After so many months of living out of suitcases, not having a routine, and generally missing our stuff, here we are in Addis. And we are still practically living out of suitcases, since none of our shipments have arrived. We still miss our stuff. The baby is getting into a napping routine, finally, but it means that we are pretty much stuck at home (she’s taking three long naps a day and even sleeping much better at night than she has in months, but only if she’s in her own bed and the house is relatively quiet).
I definitely think we will like it here, but right now, it’s hard to imagine what our lives will be like when we have a car, and some help around the house. Also, Charlotte needs to be in preschool because I simply can’t entertain her all day, but the school we picked out a year ago is just way too far from our new house. We’re considering other preschools now (the French school, a British preschool, and another American preschool), but it will take us some time to tour them and decide. Meanwhile, getting anywhere requires a car because the streets are too crazy (and the sidewalks non-existent in many spots) for me to walk with both of the girls. If I had some household help, I could at least go to the store to buy groceries and leave the girls at home. I’ve been calling nannies and housekeepers since we arrived, but nothing has worked out yet.
But none of these “problems” are unique to Ethiopia. I remember going crazy when we got to Pretoria because we didn’t have a car for about a week. Here it could take months for our car to arrive, so I am honestly not sure what we’ll do. Most people find a reliable taxi to use, or rent a car (which we can’t do yet because we need local licenses to drive).
One problem that is new for us is the lack of potable water from the tap. It’s not a big deal, but it takes some getting used to (making sure the girls don’t drink the bath water, no brushing teeth with tap water, no cooking with tap water, etc). Willa has some mild tummy troubles already, which is bizarre since she is exclusively breast fed (I gave up on solids a week ago and will try again soon–she is just so sensitive to everything). We are watching her closely for signs of dehydration, but I think she’ll be fine.
Another challenge is cleaning the produce. Last night I washed everything that I got at a nearby fruit and vegetable stand. The process was daunting: first you wash everything off, then you soak in a bleach solution for 20-30 minutes, then rinse in distilled water. I’m sure I will get better at it, but last night it felt like I was learning a new language. We are lucky to have a water distiller, but it’s awfully small, so I had to wait a long time for it to fill up again so I could rinse everything after soaking. Next time I will be better prepared.
At a little grocery store near our house yesterday, I found lots of things that I was surprised to see here, like imported cheeses and cereals (expensive, but nice to have sometimes). The store was clean and pretty well-stocked. Charlotte was with me, and we had to search for eggs for a long time (I made it into a little Dora the Explorer game: “Okay Charlotte, when you see eggs, say ‘eggs’!”). She finally found them on the floor under the produce, loose, in a big box. Someone came over and gave me a little plastic bag to put them in, and I picked out 6 of them and then very carefully held the eggs on my lap on the way home. Another amusing item was the milk: I am happy to report that there is pasteurized milk (at least, it says so on the package). However, it only comes in bags. How inconvenient! Just another little quirk that we’ll quickly get used to, I’m sure.
Whew, I feel better now. Thanks for reading about my frustration!
On the bright side, we are so happy to be back together as a family. The girls are adjusting well to being in a new house, even though Charlotte keeps talking about going back to Saugatuck (we all wish we could live there, honey). I am a little homesick for Pretoria, but excited to learn more about Ethiopia. We have already met several really nice people here, and they’ve helped us feel more at home by bringing over food, toys, etc. If we’re patient and keep an open mind, one day we’ll wake up and feel completely at home.