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ETHIOPIA | Monday, 2 January 2012 | Views [2171]

Oh man, I can’t believe how much I have to catch up on. My apologies for what is sure to be a long, and not too detailed post!!

From December 8 until the 20th we had lots of fun in Uganda. We toured around the city of Kampala for a few days. Our friend from HOPEthiopia, Roger, showed us around and introduced us to the delicacy also known as grasshoppers. They tasted like butter, and as much as I can say I ate them and they weren’t that bad, I don’t think I’ll want them again any time soon. Roger took us to Entebbe where we swam in Lake Victoria and celebrated his wife, Ruth’s, birthday. It wasn’t until a couple days later that we learned why we were the only ‘mzungu’s’ swimming that day… turns out you should NEVER swim in Lake Victoria. Don’t worry, I’ve been tested and the results came back negative for bilharzia and any other parasite that I could have invited into my body.   

We spent about a week in Jinja, the adventure capital of Uganda. It was there we got to river raft the Nile river on class 5 rapids. We decided to do the ‘Extreme’ boat, so Caleb, Derek, Rilla and I along with our raft guide Josh set out on the Nile River. The only pictures I have came from the 68 year old man who was on the boat beside us, one guaranteed not to flip. These pictures mostly show us, paddles in, extreme written across the side of our boat, paddling down a super, super calm river. I swear it was more extreme than that. The rapids were HUGE!!! We flipped on most of them which was super fun. There was one of the really big rapids though where we flipped and I stayed under water for a really long time, long enough for me to begin to wonder which way was up, and when I was going to get to breathe again! I survived. We also got to body surf two of the rapids. The first one was pretty tricky, but on the second one we held onto a throw-bag and they dragged us out into the rapid. Then we let go and were able to surf. I was really bad at steering myself, and my helmet was too big so I had to push it up to be able to see. I probably sat in the rapid for two minutes, then Josh told me to roll and down the river I went.

On the following day we did the bungee. There I was at the top of a 44m stand with the guy telling me to try to do a belly flop onto the roof of the bar that was just across the river. “The further you jump the better”. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I was scared! But amazingly I jumped on his count! It was so much fun!

We also got a chance to go to see the Mabira Forest outside of Jinja. The trees were huge!! The coolest thing was that they had really funky roots that went way up in the air before the tree started. There were also smaller trees wrapped around others. The girl we were with did a bit of studying with trees and she told us that there was a type of tree that would wrap itself around another, steal all its nutrients and kill the original tree. The trees were kind of hollowed out and had very strange shapes.

In Kampala we were able to see two Christmas performances at Watoto church. The first was a children’s production where they told the Christmas story from the perspective of Christmas lunch. It was super cute and really well done. The other was called ‘One Child’ and was a Christmas Cantata with performers from all the Watoto churches throughout Uganda. It is by far the best Christmas Cantata I have every seen! Wow! They told the story from Mary’s eyes as an older woman, remembering back to how it felt to be the mother of Jesus. Everyone who sang was a PHENOMENOL singer, they had a choir with over 200 singers in it, dancers, actors and intense video’s. It was really impressive. I’m sure my jaw was dropped for most of it… and it was all in English. Yay.

We arrived to Addis Ababa (via Nairobi because Entebbe was out of fuel and Nairobi was the closest stop) on December 20th. Uncle Steven was there to pick us up, and two staff from HOPEthiopia were there to greet us with a sign and flowers! It was wonderful. We have been guests at Steven and Eyeru’s house for the past couple weeks and they have been extremely kind to us!

For Christmas they went out of their way to make the couple days special for us. They even bought an oven! If you are unaware, it is currently 2004 in Ethiopia and Christmas isn’t until January 7th. So I get to celebrate twice! When the rest of the world switched to the Gregorian calendar, Ethiopia stayed with the original. 13 months in a year, 12 months have 30 day’s and the 13th month has 5 or 6 depending on the year. They advertise the country saying 13 months of sunshine and 7 years younger! Good one hey?! So I have traveled back in time to when I was 16.

They made rice porridge for dinner Christmas Eve, and we got to go to the Sheraton Hotel which is huge and impressive and has a lot of lights and a big Christmas tree. Christmas Eve morning Rilla and I went to a traditional Ethiopian spa. Basically we were covered from head to toe in butter and sat over a fire in a tent that filled with warm smoke. Sound like Christmas dinner? We certainly smelled like it for awhile! It also took me four washes to get the butter out of my hair. The ladies who worked at the spa commented over and over about how good we looked all shiny. I think their idea of beautiful is a bit different from ours!

Christmas day we opened presents, had a lovely meal of chicken and veggies and in the afternoon we had a coffee roasting ceremony. It is very traditional and we have seen them a few times. They take the fresh coffee beans, roast them, crush them, burn incense, and then you are served three rounds of coffee all using the same grounds. The first cup is extremely strong and then gets slightly weaker each cup. They also lay grass on the ground around the coal stand and the serving tray making it more cozy. I got to skype with my family that evening, Christmas morning for everyone back home!! It was really great to talk to them!

We helped celebrate Angel Gabriel day on the 29th. All the stores and restaurants cover the floor with grass representing love and peace. In the evening we went to Angel Gabriele Church. There were hundreds of people there. All the women had a white scarf covering their head, including us so we ALMOST blended in! The priests were at the front of the church outside chanting and singing and dancing. Many people in the crowd held candles that were lit and clapped along with the drumbeat. Every once in awhile they would clap faster and start whooping and hollering. Pretty neat.

We celebrated New Years by having dinner at a place called Yod Abyssinia. It is a cultural Ethiopian restaurant. We ate injera while watching people play music, sing and perform dance routines, all traditional Ethiopian. They showed dances from each tribe found throughout Ethiopia. It was insane. There were some where they would move their shoulders so hard I thought they were going to dislocate one. Another had the woman moving their heads around so fast I thought they were going to fall off! It was really fun to watch! We tried to learn a little bit of the dance before but it was very difficult. Gombienash (that is NOT how you spell her name but I don’t know the correct spelling), Steven and Eyeru’s maid was the one who tried to teach us. She’s awesome… but she laughed at us pretty hard as we butchered the Ethiopian dance. At least I now have a new goal for the next few months! We were back at home just before midnight. `We had 5 different clocks all telling a different time, and the power was out so the countdown was a bit difficult. Nevertheless 2012 it is! Happy New Year!

Ready to raft!!

Ready to raft!!


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