Saturday, November 24, 2012

Back to Bora, Ethiopia Trip -- Day 9

My last day in Ethiopia was definitely the most laid back.  After the prior night's activities, the day for most of the Vision Team started a bit later.  And this time, we had to check out of the hotel -- from this point forward, all our luggage was with us in (or on top of) the van.

Our first stop of the day was the Hamlin Fistula Clinic.  If you're wondering what this is, I suggest you consider watching the extremely popular and informative documentary "A Walk to Beautiful" to become fully informed.  I offer this overly-simplified explanation:  a fistula is an injury women sometimes suffer during childbirth which can be readily corrected by surgery.  In a place like Ethiopia, however, where 98% of births are unattended by any medically trained personnel, the problem often goes uncorrected, and often with severe social consequences.  The Hamlin Clinic has been helping the women of Ethiopia get the physical problem corrected for decades.  They also helps the afflicted women re-enter society through physical rehabilitation, counseling, education, and even some job training.  Their work is truly inspirational.

After the Fistula Clinic, we visited a group called "Entoto Outreach," which is a new name for a somewhat older aid effort.  Many ill people, particularly women with HIV, come to Entoto because of the mountain's reputed healing properties.  Once there, they often end up living under very primitive conditions, and hauling huge bundles of firewood down the mountain to sell in Addis as a means of earning a little money.  It is a very difficult way to survive.  Entoto Outreach teaches these women a craft (in this case, jewelry making), helps organize production of products, and provides a marketing scheme.  They run a small shop at the site, which we visited.  During my last visit, there was more of a structured tour and commentary on the organization's mission.  On this trip, we basically ended up just shopping.

We ate lunch at the Lucy Cafe, which is adjacent to the National Museum.  For those who are unaware, a partial fossilized skeleton of one of the earliest hominoid progenitors was found in the Awash river area of the Great Rift Valley.  This skeleton, dubbed "Lucy" is quite famous, and also seems to indicate that mankind's early evolution began in present day Ethiopia.  While the actual skeleton is elsewhere (the USA, I think), the National Museum has a very nice display and replicas of the bones.  Worth seeing on your trip to Addis, although we didn't actually visit this trip.

Of course, the cafe is simply a restaurant which capitalizes on the Lucy theme.  The food is, however, quite good.
The Lucy Cafe, next to the National Museum
Next, we went shopping -- tourist souvenir shopping -- at the postal shops.  I've shopped here extensively in the past, and was only interested in a few items.  I did, however, find a bayonet that the seller claimed dated all the way back to the battle of Adawa, in the late 19th century.  It definitely looked like it could have been from that era, although the condition of the bayonet and scabbard was poor.  I eventually decided to pass, and instead drank a diet coke in the little cafe next to the shops while the rest of the team wrapped up their buying.
Scarves displayed at one of the Postal Shops
We returned to the Bier Garten for dinner -- this time without any hassles or incidents.  A little food, a little beer, and suddenly our time was up.  It was time to head to the airport.

In the parking long, we said goodbyes to our guides, driver, as well as Ally and her two boys.  After a week of togetherness, there was definitely a closeness that I miss back here in the USA.  I'm certain, however, that I will see Million, Dawit, and Israel again.  Ally has to come and see me, as I brought a suitcase of hers back to the US.  We can practice drinking Tej from a pitcher at my house, Ally!

The Addis Ababa airport can be a bit crazy, so I was prepared for long lines and plenty of delay, but much to my surprise, everything was easy.  I did outsmart myself with my seat assignment, however.  I have an Ethiopian Air gold card, and used it to get my seat changed, taking an aisle seat in the back row.   My logic: since the last row is seen as "undesirable," it was less likely that the middle seat next to me would be taken.  Unfortunately, the aisle seat on the other side of the middle was open, too,.  Moments before take-off, a couple moved to the two seats so they could be together.

Win some, lose some.

I had great ambitions to edit a substantial amount of one of my novels on the flight home, but we'd barely gotten off the ground before I was falling asleep -- plenty of fatigue from the trip catching up with me.

The two photos above came from Curt Good's Ethiopia album on Facebook.  See more of his Ethiopia pictures here:  Curt Good

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