Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Our Sixth Day in Ethiopia

Well, if I thought things were getting fuzzy last week... it's approaching hopeless now but I'll forge boldly ahead.

Tuesday was our sixth day. Yep. Tuesday. Um. Oh, dear. OH YES!

Tuesday morning we, baruch hashem, got our US visas for the children. We had asked to have them in one day, and they were able to do it! It often takes two. This was very fortunate because we also had to go to the German Embassy to get visas for the children. I really was grumpy about having to do all that for a two-hour visit in the airport, but at least the visas were free. I became quite a bit less grumpy when someone else explained it's part of the effort to prevent child smuggling and corruption. Dean waited in line for nearly two hours, only to find out he didn't have all the documents we needed. I had printed off the list from the embassy website, but apparently some items were missing.

We frantically went home, got all of our papers together, then dropped them off again. Frantically, because Thursday was an Ethiopian holiday (the equivalent of Labor Day, I think???) and the embassy would be CLOSED. We had been planning to show up at the German Embassy on Wednesday, picking up our visas on Thursday afternoon, and flying out Thursday night. We would have been in deep doo doo if we had waited that long. We wouldn't have been able to leave the country until Friday. But we couldn't leave the country on Friday because shabbat would start before we got home and we can't travel, etc. on shabbat. One shabbat away from home was plenty. Two was not a happy thought, especially apart from our other two kids. We got all the papers in on Tuesday afternoon and were able to pick up our visas on Wednesday afternoon. PHEW!

After that we went to the Merkato. What a great place! This was - by a million miles - the most pleasant kind of foreign public market I have ever been to. Everyone was softspoken and polite. We quietly bargained our prices, collected a (very few) things (we're just not much into "stuff"). No pushing, shoving, or yelling. It was really nice. Actually, Guatemalan markets were similar.

The only thing we bought was a really great painting telling the story of the Queen of Sheba's visit to Shlomo HaMelech in the days of the Temple. It has 30 or 40 miniature pictures of the story with captions in Ge'ez (the holy language), and is painted on leather. I'll post a picture of it later (bli neder).

On our way home from the Merkato, we saw the Muslims preparing for early evening prayers by having their feet washed before going into the mosque. Ethiopia is about 50% Ethiopian Orthodox and 50% Muslim.

That was the sixth day. Hope I can remember the seventh!!!

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