Letters from Ethiopia

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My sister, her husband and their three kids have been living in Ethiopia for the past two years, and will be there another three or four. Every once in a while they send a wonderful letter to the entire family filling us in on all of their adventures. She is a wonderful mom, storyteller and is very smart. I hope you enjoy her stories as much as the rest of us.

Hi everyone!!
I hope this finds everyone well!

I keep hearing that it’s cold and snowy at your end of things (minus Stefan, unless he’s snowboarding somewhere that I don’t know of). It’s super warm here–it’s like August in the US just no humidity. This really makes it much nicer, but we’re still hot. We’re having someone put in ceiling fans today, to help keep things cool. In another six weeks or so the rains will start, the dust will go down, and we will tart to cool off again.

Easter has just passed and usually we have much more time to sit and think on the meaning for us–although we do think about it all year in many senses. We had fun dying eggs on Saturday, about 66 total, and have been eating them and hiding them every since. The kids told us the Easter story this year–I think they remembered more details than I did. Some friends sent some Easter candy and plastic eggs, which have been fun, as the dog doesn’t generally eat the plastic eggs, and we enjoy the candy. I had no idea that Sweet Tart made sweet tart jelly beans. Very cool. We bought a couple of chocolate bunnies at the Sheraton in Addis for the kids, since we had no time to make homemade eggs this year. I’m still hoping to make some this week.

We arrived home last Friday (just two days before Easter) after a long ride with a friend of ours. While on vacation, our car broke down, and though it was quite an adventure, to say the least, we really had a great time. It was good to get home though too. Vacation here is an adventure–we needed to go home to rest :0)

We went to Bali (Balle) Mtn. National Park with the other Groces for a week, with an expectation to do other vacation stops along the way. We went go carting with the kids, bought some terrific Italian ice cream in Addis, went swimming at the Hilton (hot springs pool) and did typical stuff that means vacation and isn’t found in Bahir Dar. We headed to Balle and were on some seriously 4 wheel drive roads, many of which are being surveyed for paving by the Chinese (who are helping create a lot of rd. infrastructure here). I will go back again to that beautiful place, but not until the rd.s are done. It was a long slow drive for how many kms we covered. Anyway, the park was spectacular, with bushbuck, nyala, warthogs EVERYWHERE and there funny little tales sticking straight up when they run. There were all sorts of amazing animals and birds, including the Simien Wolf which is endemic to Ethiopia, even taking a video clip of one eating a molerat. The kids thought that was amazing. We saw beautiful tropical butterflies with fluorescent blue wings, forests full of fuzzy ferns, heather the size of trees and giant lobelia. Apparently there were leopards there too but we didn’t see any. Marea and Joshua collected hundreds of millipedes (some of which ended up in the wash and clogged the outtake drain). There were calla lilies and amaryllis that grow all over the place. On the way out of the park we broke the right front tire bearing next to the axle, and the car drove over our own wheel until the frame was sitting on it. When you are out of cell coverage with no one local speaking Amharic even, it was a bit of a quandary to figure out what was next. In the end, we were taken (family and supplies) by a truck driver (wow the shocks on those trucks were nice, despite being squished into a cab–the six of us) back to our hotel in the main town. After the fact, we found out that we were really blessed by God to be right where we got stuck. The road below us had hail and pouring rain for and hour plus, and the road above us was tight switchbacks, and dense clouds at 14,000 ft. It would have been miserable below, or miserable above in the freezing cold at night, but we were stuck on an uphill road, with lots of incredible hospitable locals in the midst of beautiful thatched huts and ferns and trees. They made a fire, brought tea. . .I’m always humbled by the way people connect and reach out to strangers here. We were well taken care of.

We did get our new stove fixed in Addis which means we can bake again, and now that fasting season is over for the Orthodox, we are enjoying dairy and meat too. I had some friends pass of some hi altitude recipes and I’m hoping that baking is a possibility again.

The kids are doing reasonably well with school but are behind with out being gone. We are really trying to encourage Joshua in reading. If anyone wants to send books, that seems to really help to have special books around. Marea is struggling in math still, but we are doing applied math by doing a survey, blueprints, and measurements (and lots of brainstorming for our mango trees) for a future treehouse. They even have a wooden/rope bridge planned between trees. This has been really fun for the kids and Les. Hannes is doing sweet things, like, kissing our picture, and exhausting us by not getting back on schedule since the trip and getting up at 4 am. THIS WILL CHANGE or we won’t make it through the day!!

Anyway, we are well and glad to be home. I have a cold, and we’re just trying to get ourselves organized again. There’s a homeschool conference in a month with other omeschoolers and we are looking forward to meeting other kids and families doing the same thing here. It does mean more upheaval to the schedule again.

Fill us in on your lives!
Till soon,

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