Monday, February 14, 2011

In-Country Travel Package!

Some of you know that on February 8 all the families who have March 10 court dates had a conference call with Kristen (the AW travel coordinator) regarding our upcoming trip, what the schedule will be like, what to be sure to bring, etc. Ever since that call I have been waiting (not-so-patiently) to receive our in-country travel package and last Thursday it finally arrived! One thing we were wondering about was how much our in-country package would cost. Let me preface this amount that this ONLY covers the time that Garth and I are there together through March 13...not for my entire stay. The cost is.....$2129. This travel package covers:
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Transportation to adoption appointments
  • Transportation to planned sightseeing and activities
  • 3 group meals
  • Accommodations (including breakfast) at the Yebsabi Guest House
  • In-Country guide services
  • Processing fee
If we wish to do some sightseeing that isn't included in the package, we will have to pay those on our own. In the packet information, AW lists several English-speaking, Christian drivers that we can hire. Garth and I will be taking advantage of this service so we can travel down to the area that our boys are from...the Sidamo region. On Friday morning after visiting our boys at the transition home, we will be hiring one of those drivers to head down to Awassa. While down there we will be visiting the orphanage that our boys were at before relocating to the AW transition home and doing some sight-seeing. Since it is about a 5-1/2 drive one way, we will be staying overnight and then come back sometime on Saturday. Some of you may be wondering why we would leave do this instead of spending the time with the boys, but Garth and I both feel strongly that in the long run it will be better for them because while we are down there, we will be able to see the area that they lived in for a few years. We are also hoping to be able to speak with someone at the orphanage and possibly get more information about them. We will be able to get pictures of that area to put in their life books, the houses, the vegetation, etc. When we come back on Saturday, we will go back to the transition home and hopefully, if we pass court on Thursday, we will be able to pick the boys up and bring them to our guest home with us. If we don't pass court on Thursday, then they will have to stay at the transition home and we will spend as much time as possible with them.

One of the things that the travel package included are optional activities that we could do which I have listed here:
  • Spend more time at orphanages (in Addis Ababa)
  • Visit historic churches in Addis Ababa
  • Ethiopia National Museum-Home to "Lucy", ancient artifacts, and the occasional art exhibit
  • Museum and Library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies-Museum in former palace of Hailie Selassie at Addis Ababa University campus. It displays artifacts of Ethiopian ethnic groups, musical instruments, crosses, and icons.
  • Addis Ababa Museum-A former royal residence located on Entoto Mountain, contains old ceremonial and official clothes, also contains a large collection of photos of the early days of Addis. 
  • Lion Zoo-A small and inexpensive zoo focusing mainly on Abyssinian Lions (black-maned)
  • More souvenir shopping-you can hire a driver to help you barter and find the best prices
  • Holy Trinity Cathedral-The interior is decorated by painting in both modern and medieval Ethiopian styles. It is the burial site of Emperor Hailie Selassie and his wife. It also houses a memorial to the first victims of the Derg regime (30 birr/person)
  • Visit the Fistula Hospital
  • Entoto Mountain-View of Addis Ababa from the top of the mountain, optional museum of a very old, traditional Orthodox church on the mountain; optional gift shop with bags and crafts supporting the women who carry heavy loads of wood down from the mountain for a living. 
Some of the planned activities that we can participate in include visiting 2 orphanages in Addis Ababa, shopping, and going to a coffee factory. Garth and I would like to go to the Lion Zoo and Entoto Mountain and I would like to visit the Fistula Hospital so hopefully we can do those as well.

The travel package also includes three churches that we are welcome to attend on Sundays while in Ethiopia. They include:

  • The International Evangelical Church-A diverse congregation from many nations, traditional services at 8:30 and 11:15 a.m.
  • Beza International Church-Lively worship, challenging sermons, aims to meet the needs of the country through the church body, 2-3 hour service starting at 9:00 a.m.
  • St. Matthews Anglican Church-Traditional Anglican service at 10:15 a.m., informal service at 5:00 p.m. 
I have to admit that the Beza International Church sounds like my kind of service with "lively worship" but I will probably visit each one while I'm there.

They also have an extensive list of restaurants they would recommend. The best part is they are separated out by food type.

  • East Dragon-Authentic Chinese
  • ZhongHua-Authentic Chinese
  • Gati-Thai Food

  • Castelli-Fine Italian dining-reservations required
  • Antica-Brick oven pizzas, past, and more
  • Il Camineto-Affordable 3-course Italian meal
  • Makush-Known for their Italian food and art gallery
  • Blue Tops-Sandwiches and pastas...great ice cream!
  • Top View-Blue Tops with a better view
  • Don Vito's-Known for good pizza
  • Pizza Deli Roma-Good pizza

  • Fasika-Ethiopian food and traditional dancing
  • Yod Abyssinia-Ethiopian food and traditional dancing
  • Heber-Ethiopian food and traditional dancing

  • Garden Paradise-Good BBQ chicken, kebabs, salads, burgers
  • Zebra Grill-Chicken wings, burritos, and more
  • Biergarten Inn-German and bar food
  • Loti-French food
  • Family Restaurant-Wide variety of food, known for their burgers, Mexican, and chocolate cake
  • Meda Sports Bar (dinner only)-Fajitas, fried chicken
  • Serenade-Mediterranean
  • The Chop House-Steak
  • Aladdins-Lebanese/Mediterranean
  • Lime Tree-Sandwiches, soups, salads, and the best chocolate cake
  • Melting Pot-Wide variety of food, salads, Mexican, pizza
  • Metro Pizza-Excellent pizzas

Coffee Houses
  • Enricos-Excellent cream puffs
  • Tamoca-Great coffee
  • Kaldi's-Ethiopian Starbucks
  • La Parisienne-Good coffee, croissants
  • Bilo's-Great ice cream cakes

Knowing these details made me even more excited to go! Obviously Garth and I are most excited about meeting our boys, but we are also very excited about getting to experience Ethiopia. I can hardly wait to smell the smells, hear the sounds, see the people, and learn as much as I can about the culture, history, traditions, etc. of the Ethiopian people. We will also be there together for Garth's birthday, so it will be FANTASTIC to be able to share that with the boys. YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. thanks so much for posting this! so great to have that knowledge. i can't wait to hear all about your trip when you get back. it sounds like they keep you pretty busy. what a blessing to get to experience so much of the boys' homeland. we are undecided about visiting our little girl's region because it is 7 hours away. still praying about that :) have fun packing!

  2. This is all so exciting!! I'm even more anxious to 1. Get our referral and 2. Head to Ethiopia. Thank you so much for copying this down for us! It gets me that much more excited about everything!!

  3. You are so right that the time spent going to the boys' home region is time well spent. It will be the BEST use of your time, I guarantee it. I have been to many of those restaurants and almost all of the tourist spots. You should visit the Fistula hospital if you get a chance, it is so inspiring! I am getting very excited for our trip; Tom and I leave in 12 days!

  4. I'm so excited to follow your journey! We're waiting on a court date too & seriously considering saying in country for the duration as well. I can't wait to read all about your stay!

    God bless!!!!

    Jill Ross

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