Day 2: The Best Day of My Life (tied for 5th)
The title says it all. The birth of my children was something to behold. Each birth has a different story and each was remarkable in its own way. I was never present for Kallie’s birth so this will have to serve as that day, the first time I laid eyes on her.
The day had began where the last post ends, We landed in Nairobi early at about 6 am. Nairobi Airport was a little different then I expected. We walked through the arrivals gate to find our connecting gate to Addis Ababa. The walk itself was different. We arrived at Gate 16 and had to make our way to Gate 4B. Picture the departures level at Vancouver Airport big wide open with many different gates and destinations to boot. Interspersed between the different gates are vendors selling magazines or coffee whatever your last minute needs. The decorum is impressive, local artist’s work is proudly displayed in the long gaps between gates and vendors. Now close your eyes and forget what you just saw because Nairobi is nothing like that. Walking to the next gate was more like walking to your next class in school, the hallway was just as wide and as the bell rings and a thousand kids want out in the opposite direction you are going. There are still vendors except they display their wares from their lockers one right after another. The entrance to the gates are merely doorways with someone standing out front and you waiting patiently while the masses move past like salmon spawning in a stream and you clinging to the nearest rock.
Our gate was slightly different we were fortunate enough to be at the end of the hallway at the bottom of the narrow staircase in the basement. New country means new security clearance, you know the routine: bags through the scanner . . . any gels or liquids? . . . remove your laptop? Wait a second they didn’t do the last two. Maybe the walk-through metal detector constantly going off constantly distracted them. A quick pat down at the shoulders and waist means you are okay. It must because the detector went off when nobody was going through. I feel secure now!
The flight to Addis Ababa was short enough depending on how you look at it. One hour and forty minutes or the tail end of a 29 hour odyssey which the case I was glad it was over. Hop a bus from the far end of the tarmac to the arrivals area. First though the Visa area an impromptu line ensues $40 dollars and a decal in my passport and Jen and I are officially visiting. On to the immigration line to hand in the card, we filled out and down to the carousel. I’m reserving comment on the Addis Ababa Bole Road Airport. A little more wide-open but still needs some work.
I’m being bogged down folks, with too much to say not enough time to write. Let’s jump to meeting Solomon. Super nice guy, he bought us flowers and he took us to the Weygoss where we could freshen up. The plan was to freshen up and meet back at two o’clock. We made a quick trip to head office sign some papers and we would be off to the transition house. See! Now we are getting there, I could always write separate posts about: the lost stroller, the Weygoss toilet , or the Streets of Addis Ababa. Lunch our first meal in Addis. Trust me folks I’ll get there.
Let me just say this quickly. If you had to get somewhere through the downtown core of your own city, could you navigate there without road signs or street signs? Welcome to Addis Ababa! We made it to the compound of Imagine Adoption and we met Martha, a very nice lady. I’m trying to visualize the trip so that maybe I could look it up later on Google Earth but that’s just a minor detail. Our meeting was brief we were just there to get Kallie’s passport and facilitation visa and other original documents. There is a certain irony to the whole event. The facilitation visa as part of the citizenship route looks very much like our visitor visa, a decal inside our passport. The whole process at the airport took about 5 or 6 minutes. The whole process to get the facilitation visa took 11 weeks, no pomp with this circumstance. I don’t know its just mind numbing and almost upsetting.
Another jaunt through the city and I’m seeing a whole bunch of stuff. Steady Rob . . .hold the course, talk about it later. I saw the Federation of Sport (cool I took a picture), heading south, a Roundabout and a right turn down a dusty boulevard to the bottling plant, turn right and right again up an alley they call a street and I see the familiar site of the Transition House, the red roof is a give away. It’s probably the nicest building on the “block” and perhaps of our whole trip, so far.
Timeout! You are probably wondering when this guy is going to get to talking about his daughter the suspense is killing me. Yeah well now you know how I felt. It’s about 36 hours since our plane took off in Vancouver. Total sleep hours to this point is still in the single digits not close to breaking the double digits. I am tired and cranky sleep deprived jet lagged but amazingly coherent. Okay I will get back to the story.
The foyer you see in a lot of peoples blog pictures is the front door. A sliding glass door and you are in a beautiful vaulted ceiling atrium. The only décor is two couches, a single matching chair and a glass coffee table. Then we are met by the social worker, whose name is also Kalkidan, we exchange handshakes and she seats us to get ready to meet out daughter. The smell of freshly roasted coffee beans permeates the air as one of the staff is preparing coffee for us.
The head nurse walks in with Kallie in her arms. My daughter is absolutely beautiful, of course I’m biased but she is stunning. Kallie is wearing a little yellow Ethiopian style sundress, her hair is done up in braids like corn rows. She glances over at us pauses, and cries, howls in fact! Quick transition and she is in Jenny’s arms, two of the most beautiful women on the face of the Earth are before my eyes. The next couple of hours we spent getting comfortable with her. Every time we switch off she cries. She soon has us trained to the fact that yes I will cry but if you get up and walk around with me so I see stuff I’ll stop crying. Time is standing still right now I’m trying to record everything in my foggy head, on camera, video camera, and digital voice recorder. I am geeked out.
When all the staff come back we ask a barrage of questions about habits and behaviors and all sorts of stuff. Jenny is diligently taking notes. We have coffee. It is incredible coffee. Another caregiver comes in with Kallie’s food it is banana and papaya mushed up. This is her “juice”. We start to feed her but she is kind of distracted. The level of trust hasn’t quite built up enough to where we can feed her. I’ll let you hold me but feeding me maybe another time.Hana the head nuse takes over to feed her and is done in a flash!
Our visit seemed all too brief but it was past her nap time and she seemed to be getting a little cranky. We asked to see her crib and roommates. No pictures, of course, but there were 5 cribs and only four occupied at the time. Kallie was one. Pictures we sent her were posted above her crib. In the crib next to her was another beautiful little girl about her age also with pictures of her family. I didn’t get to read the names on the card except Mommy Daddy and someone else. We did not impress this little girl. At least we got a reaction. In the crib next to her, a little girl was fast asleep but didn’t event stir with all of the chatter of adults and, one girl screaming . The little boy in the room was quite the gentleman. We was standing in his crib just staring back at me. He was not crying or anything just trying to figure out who I was. A brief visit and of course all other doors were closed. No photos and they would not even tell us the babies names. Kallie’s room was on the ground floor and there were many other rooms above us.
Alas it was time to go. We had a shopping list and food to buy. I’ll see you tomorrow Kallie! We made a quick trip to the store and back to the hotel. Okay now I was physically and emotionally drained. As the sun went down so did I. With luck on my side the Weygoss was in a brown out which meant no lights, no internet, no problem.
The last thing I remember is Jenny telling me that she had left a babbling, sobbing message to ours boys and Jen’s mom. It is three in the afternoon Vancouver time, 1 am local time. I am just finishing this off.
Oh and if you are wondering the fifth best day of my life was my wedding day, of course.