Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Well, when the sickies in our family were up to it, we finally were able to consider a day trip out of the city. (We had already given up on the idea of our trip to Awassa...a two day trip). We headed towards this lovely mountain filled with eucalyptus trees. About 5 minutes into our drive, Elliot suddenly says he doesn't feel well. He initially thinks it's because he didn't eat enough breakfast. So I gave him a fruit leather. Almost immediately upon eating that, he asks for a bag! Producing a gallon size zip lock, he empties his stomach into it. Wendi, our courageous driver pulls over and without a question, takes the barf bag to a dumpster...which I have to say is kinda funny considering there is garbage all over the streets anyway, yet the dumpsters are always full, too!
We continue our drive. Wendi points out that the athletes train on this mountain, which is about 8000 feet. Which is why they come to America and whup our butts!! We see numerous runners training, having no problem breathing at all and running full speed up or down the mountain! On the side of the hill, there are beautiful carvings of the Lion of Judah, a church in Lalibela (known for their amazing stone churches), other animals and Haile Selassie, the king of Ethiopia.
Elliot suddenly clutches his side and basically screams in pain...apparently Montezuma's Revenge was in full force. Wendi pulled over along the road, about a 1/4 of the way up the mountain and I dug out some TP for my anguished son. Andrew and Elliot were quite the site, running into the eucalyptus forest! Twenty minutes later (and seeing numerous donkeys and women with bundles of eucalyptus branches on their backs coming down into town w/ their loads), Elliot emerged, glad to be rid of his load!! (Ok, that was bad...) Apparently, it was pretty bad!! The great thing is we had a prescription for Cipro which helped him tremendously.
Needless to say, we turned around and headed back to the guesthouse so Elliot could recover fully. We actually made the trip the next day and it was a great success...more on that in Chap. Four...
Ru just woke up so I need to continue this again later. Hopefully sooner than later, anyway. I'll also try to get Andrew to upload a video of this beautiful eucalyptus mountain side. It was so lovely. One of my highlights of the trip (minus the sick kid!)...
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
So, on to chapter two of our Ethiopian trip! In chapter one, I noticed a lot of typo's (which I deplore!) but since I am typing this usually in the middle of the night, I will excuse myself a bit and realize that sometime grammatical errors will occur! (Esp. for mama's of virtual twins!)
Day two arrived in Addis and our 13 year old daughter started having a sore throat and muscle aches. Her head started hurting and then came the deep chesty coughing. By that evening she was bed bound with a temp. of 103.5 and refusing any solids. With the lethargy and no interest in food, we tried to keep as many liquids in her system as possible. Wendi, the guesthouse chef (not to be confused with Wendi our driver) concocted wonderful soups each evening, but this turned Chloe's stomach as well. Thank goodness they had fresh squeezed OJ and bottled water. I think we pretty much used up their entire water ration for the week. We were constantly asking for more. I'm pretty sure it was a little joke with the staff about how much water the Ferguson's drank as we each had probably two or three bottles of Highland each day!
Day three arrived and Andrew started feeling low. A sore throat, fever, aches, headache...coughing...Sound familiar? By that evening, his temperature had soared to 104! He too went to bed. At this point I HAVE to mention that a few weeks before leaving on our trip, Andrew got into one of his fatherly tirades about "staying well" and making sure to "take our vitamins"..."load up on zinc, Vit. C, magnesium, etc. etc. etc."...by the time we actually left town, we all had heard enough about supplemental intake!
So now with two down...Elliot and I were holding down the fort. I must say that my 10 year old was such a great help to me. He would go to the orphanage each day and hold Ruby on his lap while we drove back to the orphanage. They became great buddies! Very few people can make Ruby laugh like her big brother! I know at this point therapists will say that Ruby should only have bonded in this way (the way that she bonded with Elliot) with her daddy and mama, but we had to do what we had to do. I held Roman on my lap and off we went. In Ethiopia, seatbelts are optional and there are no child car seats. A crazy notion if you were to see how people drive there! Yikes! A car horn in Ethiopia is not only for letting people know you are irritated with them but also to let pedestrians & other drivers know you are within inches of running their heels over!
Saturday evening comes around and I've still got two very sick family members. I felt like I'd been carrying a family of six on my shoulders in a third world country. With Elliot and I the only two visible Ferguson's, I'm sure the guesthouse staff thought Andrew and Chloe were dead. That night Andrew took Nyquil. He also requested the sleeping pill, Ambien. I told him "No!!" because you're not supposed to take it with alcohol. We all went to bed. At some point a few hours later, Andrew awoke, feeling terrible, and found his coveted Ambien. The next morning, I realized that Andrew was sleeping much deeper than normal. He also was incoherent. He mumbled and slurred his speech. He usually wouldn't answer when I asked him questions or he would babble strange things. For instance, he started saying things about "there are flying batteries in the room! Get them down, get them down!" and "Catch the big fish! The big fish are the meanest, so get them first!!!" At one point he made mention to our Ethiopian attorney, Sintayehu and one of the drivers, Solomon. "Sinty called Solomon and said to come get us! Solomon, Solomon, where are you? Come get us!!!"...Although a little funny at first, I soon realized that my husband was not being his normal self. Then, he continued to ask for more Ambien!! At one point he attempted to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. As he was crashing into the walls and door jams, I knew I needed to help him. There is nothing scarier than taking your 200 lb., incoherent, babbling, hallucinating husband to go potty!!!
Elliot and I had to go and get the babies again so I woke Chloe up. I told her she needed to go in and sleep next to Daddy and babysit him. Since she wasn't hallucinating, she was clearly more capable of monitoring her father than he was of himself! But her temperature was still near 104 for the third day. I also told her that I had hidden all meds from her dad and if she had any problems with him acting weird than she would need to get up and go tell Muli or Wendi in the kitchen. The staff were wonderful and we are indebted to them for their hospitality. They cared for us so well.
We were quickly using up any meds we had taken with us, and with the only antibiotics on hand being the Malaria meds, I was trying to think rationally about what to do...as well as doing A LOT of praying!
By Monday midmorning, Andrew was starting to feel slightly better. The hallucinations had stopped (although I did resort to asking him who our President was, the names of our children as well as what day of the week it was, to which he was able to answer correctly the names, but got the date wrong.) He still slept most of that day and emerged a better feeling man on Tuesday. During this time, Chloe still was sleeping a minimum of 10 hours per day and still not eating a thing. She ended up losing enough weight (not sure of the poundage) for it to be noticeable. And this is a girl who can't afford to lose any in the first place!
Well, I guess I should stop there...for those of you who are still hanging in there and reading...please know how grateful I am!!! forget! This blog is not only to share our experiences but also to serve as a journal for us so we can remember our trip and all the interesting things surrounding it! We are blessed to have our health...to live in the USA where medicine is easily accessible!
In my next chapter, people get well...well, at least Andrew does. Chloe starts feeling better for a few days anyway & Elliot has a jaunt into the Eucalyptus Forest he will never forget!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
CHAPTER ONE: We arrived back home Saturday evening, Feb. 7th to a wonderful crowd of friends waiting at the Portland Airport. It was very emotional for me. We had just spend the past 32+ hours on flights that took us from Addis Ababa to Khartoum to Frankfurt to Chicago and then finally (FINALLY) home to PDX. Getting my feet planted back on American soil was wonderful at O'Hare, but being HOME was an truly safe feeling.
Our trip was amazing. That word, "amazing" can have so many different meanings to me. Not always positive, not always in the way most people think. When I say amazing, most people assume it was ALL wonderful and joyous. And, this is the word I use when I do not have the time or the energy to describe in full how it exactly was. Our trip was full of adventure that is for sure.
This may have to be continued unto another posting, but I will start with the day we left and journal the trip from there. I feel that each person's journey will hold something different for them and that they should not take my experience was one they will also have.
Monday, Jan.26 we arrived at PDX and headed out for destination Addis at approx. 1:30pm. Our flights there (PDX to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Istanbul, Istanbul to Addis Ababa) were uneventful and seemingly fast. We were blessed enough to fly business class and therefore we were also able to take advantage of the different clubs in each airport. Landing in Istanbul, Turkey was an experience. Never before have I felt so much like the "Ugly American". I found the people in the airport to be arrogant and rude. I was, not once, greeted with a smile or any form of hospitality. We had a six hour layover to which we were very glad to get back on a plane! Then on to Addis, about a six hour flight.
Arriving in Addis, we made our way to customs, but because we decided to ride the 'lift' (elevator), we went down too many floors and got lost. After about a 1/2 hour (or so it seemed), we found our correct way (Thanks to the very friendly soldiers who directed us). By now the line was very long at customs and we waited there. Quite some time later, we found our many bags and suitcases full of formula and donations and had them scanned one final time. The security personnel were alarmed by the amount of formula and were very hesitant to let us through. After several explanations from me that it was going to the Toukoul Orphanage for the BABIES, they allowed us through.
We then waited in the airport for our driver to show up. Since our friend Tania had traveled just a month before, we knew that waiting for our ride was a possibility. We waited...and waited. Finally a nice young woman came over and asked if she could call someone for us. We gave her the numbers for our attorney (who our agency said to call first in such an event). Sintayehu arrived about an hour later in a very small car. Realizing our luggage would never fit, he then called Solomon who arrived in a mini van! =) Needless to say, we were loaded to the hilt!
At this point, we were all feeling great and full of anticipation. We knew we would meet our babies that morning as well as have our US Embassy appointment in a few hours. A very full day. We were supposed to have the Embassy appointment the next day, but due to an In Service Day, they bumped it up.
After a breakfast of nearly fried eggs, freshly squeezed OJ and Ethiopian coffee, we were headed out to meet Ruby Kalkidan and Roman Abinet.
The drive to the orphanage confirmed our earlier ride from the airport. People lined the streets, walking to wherever they were going, or usually running. They would dart in and out of traffic with reckless abandon. Young children were no exception. The exhaust from vehicles choked us and the sites amazed us. Everywhere we looked, it was a completely new experience. Men and women in authentic Ethiopian garb, priests in Orthodox Christian shawls and of course, mostly western attire. Some women walking down the dirty, uneven road wearing high heels and dresses. Appearing to be going to the office...men in three piece suits coming out of a tin shack, on their way to work. The smells were interesting and usually wonderful due to the strong scent of burberry hanging in the air.
A short drive to the orphanage, along the way passing a few meat stores...small shacks with fresh (?) meat hanging on the walls. By small I mean like an 8X8 area. No refrigeration whatsoever. We arrived at Toukoul within 10 minutes and met Melat, the orphanage secretary. Wendi, our new driver introduced us and Melat made a phone call alerting the staff the Kalkidan and Abinet needed to be readied!!! We filled out paperwork and told Melat of our donations. Within moments, two nannies arrived outside the window carrying two lovely children! Our children!!! For the past year, I thought I would cry when first meeting my new babies. But in that moment it was just 'awe'. It literally happened so fast, I don't even know what video we have. Ruby stared at us with those big eyes of hers, really not sure what she was getting herself into! Roman greeted us with a huge smile and lit up the entire area! What a charmer that one!
We spend the rest of the morning in the visiting room there at the orphanage, bonding. Ruby fell asleep on daddy's chest. The room is fairly small and spending it with four other new parents was quite an endeavor. The other parents were all from France, so communication was also limited.
This will conclude 'chapter one' since I really need to be sleeping! Roman has had his nighttime bottle and Ruby should stay asleep the rest of the night (fingers crossed). I am battling a bad cold (nasty chest cough!!) It's 12:40am and I have several hours of sleep I could be taking advantage of!