We certainly learned quite a few lessons for the next time we travel to Ethiopia. We wanted to list a few of them for the families who have yet to travel.
1. Take a small back pack and pack it like you're not coming back until the evening when you leave the Guest House each day. In many cases, we didn't come back to the Guest House until dinner time. Be sure to take lots of snacks to give the children on the street. Here's a picture of the Transition Home!
2. Ensure your shopping day is early in your stay. Ours was the day before we left, and we wish we had more time to look and maybe come back to a few things instead of having to make the decision right then and there if we wanted to make the purchase.
3. Write down questions ahead of time for the medical doctor and child psychologist. Talking with them at the Transition Home was very helpful, and your mind may be a bit distracted from meeting your child that you'll need to refer to your notes!!
4. Bring your laptop computer. The internet connectivity is VERY slow, but everyone had luck updating Facebook. The connectivity was so slow that we couldn't bring up our blog to update it so we were glad to have Facebook. Don't even think of e-mailing pictures to your friends; the available bandwidth just won't support.
5. Use the laundry service at the Guest House and save on suitcase space. All laundry is done by hand! Our clothes were returned at the end of the next day. I included a few pictures of our room and suite at the Guest House.
6. Bring an adapter for the electrical outlet. We just took a transformer (as a backup to the transformer already in the comptuter electrical cord). The plugs on the transformer fit the wall outlet, but the outlets are recessed so you'll need a plug adapter to fit into the recessed outlet. I hope this makes sense. I should have taken a picture!
7. Don't worry about bringing lots of food. The breakfasts and dinners at the Guest House were great. Do buy bottled water out in town because it's way cheaper than at the Guest House. Since you'll use bottled water for everything, to include brushing teeth, you'll go through lots of water during the 7-day stay.
8. If you can afford it, plan an overnight layover both coming and going. We thought it helped with the jet lag and just made the long flights a little more manageable. We realize it makes the trip longer, but it's 30-something hours straight to and from the West Coast. We highly recommend Frankfurt. The hotel is connected to the airport, and we were in our room less than an hour from walking off the plane (that includes customs and passport check). I included a picture of the Sheraton lobby - very nice!
9. Bring warm PJs. The nights are a little chilly and there's no heat in the Guest House. We asked for an extra blanket and that helped a lot.
10. Speaking of chilly nights and mornings, bring hot chocolate if you're not a coffee or tea drinker like me. They have hot water at breakfast and it would have been nice to have something to warm up with in the mornings.
11. Many folks slept in ear plugs because of the barking dogs and rooster. The rooster must be blind because he started crowing at 3am (well before sunrise). The dogs did bark but we didn't think it was that bad. We didn't use ear plugs and slept great. Jet lag is going to get you up early anyway for the first 2-3 days.
12. Don't worry about fancy clothes for the court date. I wore slacks and a collared shirt and Alicia wore cotton slacks and a collared blouse. It's a rather informal experience and very quick. We were in the Judge's office for about 2 minutes.
13. After you get your ticket at the Addis airport, you'll complete an immigration form and then proceed through the passport check. Pick up a few extra immigration forms for next time. The next time you come through this airport will be with your child and the more you can do ahead of time, the better.
14. As I mentioned in my last post, if you're over 6 feet tall, Ethiopia Air really has no legroom. Ethiopia Air flights are cheaper but potentially very uncomfortable!
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