We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Sipping tea in Ethiopia

I drink a lot of tea, usually black tea with milk, and Bug and Giggle always want sips. They often request and make their own versions, anything from warm water with honey to milk and sugar and probably a dozen other concoctions they have neglected to share with us.

When Bug and I were in Ethiopia in December, we’d eat breakfast each day at the hotel, usually sharing a meal. Each morning I’d order tea, which came with lots of sugar and rarely milk. Even with milk, it still needed some sugar. Not surprisingly, Bug really liked it. So he wanted his own. I eventually obliged. He enjoyed the ritual of adding the sugar and stirring the tea as much as actually drinking it: he’d usually stop after a few sips and I’d finish his tea and mine.

At lunch I’d often order a coke, and soon Bug decided he wanted a soda as well. I’m not a big fan of giving my kids soda, but it was a special trip, we were pretty active, and I didn’t want to keep fighting him… so I gave in. As parents, Mr. Four is usually a bit stricter than I am, but I tend to be more concerned about their nutrition, so I was a bit chagrined to think I’d get home with a kid demanding tea for breakfast and Fanta for lunch.

But you know what? It didn’t happen. At all. Bug hasn’t even asked. I suspect he returned to his regularly routines so quickly he forgot about the good life of tea and soda.

I haven’t blogged much about Ethiopia, but I will do more eventually. In the meantime, some photos.

A farmer at the market in Bahir Dar gathers his teff, the grain in injera.

Beans and grains for sale at the market in Bahir Dar.


24 March 2009 Posted by | bug, ethiopia, food, giggle, parenting, tourism | 7 Comments

The Omo People of Ethiopia

I stumbled across an absolutely amazing series of photographs of the Omo of Ethiopia, by Hans Silvester. Here is some gorgeous body art. Take a look.

Tribus de L’OMO / Hans Silvester

Publish at Scribd or explore others: Other Presentations & Slid river corps

22 January 2009 Posted by | ethiopia | 6 Comments

Best of 2008

My friend Jenni just wrote a nice post about her favorite moments from the past year, and I’m inspired to do the same.

Bug is napping, but I’m going to guess his favorite moment (the one that would come to mind, anyway) was opening the Batman motorcycle he asked about all fall and got from Santa for Christmas.

Giggle’s favorite moment from 2008:

  • Seeing Santa when he woke up on Christmas morning (he’s been talking about this for a week, and we haven’t questioned him further on the matter)

Mr. Four’s favorites:

  • Boating with the boys in the mountains this summer
  • Snorkeling with the boys in Dahab

My favorites (in chronological order):

Spring, in Egypt (mostly)

  • When we first joined our club last January, sitting outside in the evening, drinking tea or a beer, while the boys played on the playground, and feeling like I had a backyard again
  • Discovering Fagnoon
  • Our spring trip to Dahab, an amazing vacation that managed to include both lots of fun for the boys and lots of relaxation for Mr. Four and me
  • in dahab
    Bug and Giggle splash around in the kiddie pool at our favorite hotel in Dahab

  • My trip to gorgeous Croatia: walking the streets of old Dubrovnik and visiting with old friends
  • on the island of mljet
    Mljet, Croatia

  • A great visit from my cousin K in June
  • Sweet little Puppy Four
  • puppy four
    Puppy Four

In the US this summer

  • My first morning back in College Town in June, listening to NPR, reading the New York Times (in print!), and drinking tea while the boys played
  • Playing baseball with my dad, Bug, and Giggle in June
  • Swimming at the lake near College Town
  • The boys running hysterically into the house this summer to report “ghosts” outside, which were really fireflies
  • Later on, watching and catching fireflies with the boys, in College Town and the mountains
  • Eating my favorite cereal
  • Laughing hysterically while tubing with Mr. Four, Giggle, and Bug in July
  • My kids discovering the laundry chute at my mom’s house

Fall, back in Egypt (mostly)

  • The Africa Reading Challenge
  • Giggle’s school
  • A few hours at Hamley’s toy store in London
  • Spamalot (also in London)
  • Snorkeling with the boys in Dahab
  • Giggle deciding it was time to re-learn Amharic
  • Bug and Giggle talking to my dad and stepmom on Thanksgiving
  • Ethiopia: time with Bug, the rock hewn churches, hippos, and Bug learning how cool it is to be Ethiopian
  • A wonderful Christmas day, including a nice chat with my mom
  • Listening to my nephew play his new accordion via Skype

1 January 2009 Posted by | bug, ethiopia, expat scene, family, food, fun, giggle, holidays, home, pets, school | 5 Comments

The intertubes are jammed

Last February, quite mysteriously, three different internet cables under the Mediterranean Sea, from Egypt to Europe, were damaged within a few days of each other. Apparently a huge percentage of Egypt’s internet services went through those cables (I’m remembering something like 90%). We had crawling internet for days and slow internet for three or four weeks. Ripples were felt throughout Africa and into other parts of the Middle East and Asia.

It seems the same thing has happened again: three internet cables have been damaged or cut. In the same place, apparently. I’d tell you more about it, but I can’t read the news!

But it’s mighty suspicious, don’t you think?

Anyway, it took quite a few hours on Friday before we figured out the problem wasn’t just our internet connection. I was able to get online early Saturday morning around 1-2am (Bug woke me up for some water and I couldn’t get back to sleep), and now I’m back online again, on Sunday at 3am (Bug woke me up because he was hungry, and I couldn’t get back to sleep).

This means I will probably not be batch-posting any photos Ethiopia. But I also know most folks are traveling or hanging out with family and not necessarily sitting around waiting for a trip report.

In the meantime, I have one more day of work (which may well be a waste without any internet) and then most of two weeks home with the boys.

They are very excited about Santa. Our little Charlie Brown tree is looking particularly fancy this year with all sorts of school-made decorations.

In any case, have a great holiday! And check back once in a while for some photos.

21 December 2008 Posted by | bug, ethiopia, holidays, this blog | 2 Comments

We’re back!

Bug and I had an amazing trip! It was the trip of a lifetime.

We spent most of our time in Lalibela and Bahir Dar. (Photos to come.)

Let me whet your appetite with this photo, from an apparently recently re-named establishment in Bahir Dar. Bug and I did not actually dine there.

The Obama Bar & Restaurant in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

In Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Now I’m off to bed, at 4 or 5pm in the afternoon, after a very tiring nighttime flight.

13 December 2008 Posted by | ethiopia, tourism | 9 Comments

Out with a whimper

Here it is, the last day of NaBloPoMo, my month of daily blogging. And I’m home sick with symptoms I will not describe out of concern for you, my reader.

This entry is the last before a hiatus. Bug and I leave for Ethiopia in a few days, and WordPress isn’t accessible there (because the government blocks it and other blogging platforms–there are work-arounds, but I’m not motivated enough to find them). Even more, though, my trip is about Bug, not blog(ing), so I’ll be offline most of the next two weeks.

I need a break, anyway. I’ve been re-reading some of my posts from a year ago, when we first arrived in Egypt, when life was new and everything was interesting. I’d like to try to re-capture some of that energy when I’m back and posting again.

Thanks for sticking with me, dear readers! And see you next month.

30 November 2008 Posted by | bug, ethiopia, this blog | 8 Comments

One week to Addis

Our ever-changing travel plans to Ethiopia have changed again!

Earlier this fall, we had decided to take this trip as a family of four, over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. But, Giggle changed his mind. He decided he wasn’t quite ready to go to Ethiopia. And that’s fine with Mr. Four and me: we want Giggle to go when he’s excited, not reluctant.

So, we’re back to the second version of the trip, only now it’s actually happening rather than just a hypothetical.

Meaning: Next week, Bug and I leave for about ten days in Ethiopia!

I have the time off for the Muslim Eid el Adha, the Feast of Abraham. Bug has off because he’s three years old. Our plans including visiting rock hewn churches in Lalibela, trekking through the countryside (a trip done by, I kid you not, my second favorite adoptive father, Brad Pitt), and visiting our housekeeper’s family in Addis.

I’ve been to Ethiopia three times now, for a total of only about two and a half weeks in-country, but this will be my first real trip as a tourist. And this will be Bug’s first trip back since our adoption.

I told him tonight we’d be leaving in a week for Ethiopia. He shouted “yeah!” and ran over and gave me a big hug and kiss. He’ll get to use his new Amharic skills for real.

I’m as thrilled as he is, excited for our trip and so excited to have so much time with my sweet Bug. And Giggle is happy as can be with the plan, and he’s looking forward to a week with Mr. Four.

What a sight we’ll be: the ferenge mom and her habesha son. I can’t wait.

26 November 2008 Posted by | bug, ethiopia, holidays, nanny, tourism | 6 Comments

My how you’ve grown (11/22)

In late October, I made note of the day when something very unexpected happen:

Giggle, completely unprompted, gave me a mini shoulder massage. He said, as he rubbed my shoulders, “You can play on your computer.” He ran off after about a minute, but that was a very nice moment, and one I suspect won’t be replayed for years, if ever.

Giggle has been having a good fall. August and early September were a bit crazy after a busy and occasionally rough summer, especially with our new apartment and his new school. But now that we’re settling in, I have a moment to reflect on how much he’s grown.

When he first came home from Ethiopia, Giggle liked to practice writing his numbers and letters in old-fashioned composition books. He lost this habit for a while, but now, with kindergarten as his inspiration, he spends time every day creating long lists of words he’s copied from his favorite books. He’s reading, sorta, in that early reading pre-literate way. He recognizes many words and really likes to figure out sounds of words. It’s great watching him learn to read. And it’s great seeing how proud he is when he figures something out. Both my boys are big fans of books, and this makes me oh so happy.

Giggle is also growing physically. His pants from last winter are now comically short and have been put away for Bug to wear when he gets bigger himself. Giggle has gained a lot of strength, too, especially from playing on the monkey bars all the time. His school really focuses on getting kids outside and playing, and it’s obvious from Giggle’s additional coordination. He loves to run and race.

Giggle is also a really fun kid. This has always been true, but it’s so much more so now that the rest of his life is more settled. He’s funny, and he likes to joke around and make faces and get us to laugh. He’s an absolute joy, and I am so lucky to be his mom.

22 November 2008 Posted by | bug, ethiopia, family, giggle, our life in egypt | 3 Comments

Amharic play group (11/11)

My friend Cindy recently had the brilliant idea of starting a play group in Amharic for some Ethiopian kids in Cairo. (Amharic is one of the main languages of Ethiopia. There is no language known as “Ethiopian.”) My boys went last week. You can read Cindy’s take on it here.

My take on it? It was fantastic. Most importantly, the boys had fun. A close second in importance: they are both jazzed about Amharic! They have been using some words in Amharic with our nanny/housekeeper, who is using more and more Amharic with them. Giggle appears to remember much more than we ever suspected, including some songs he was thrilled to hear and sing. Bug is picking it up quickly, too.

A big part of this was Cindy: she did a great job of planning some interesting activities.

When Mr. Four and I decided to move here, one motivation was for the boys to have better access to their Ethiopian culture and language. It’s taken a while, but I’m thrilled they’re actually (re)learning their language. They go for their second Amharic play group this week.

11 November 2008 Posted by | bug, ethiopia, giggle | 6 Comments

The plans, they are a-changin’

You may recall a few weeks ago when I reported that Giggle has been saying he doesn’t want to visit Ethiopia. Well, he surprised us last week. Now he does want to go. And he’s kept to this for a bit.

So, our holidays plans have changed. Instead of Bug and I dashing down to Ethiopia for a week in early December (during the Muslim Feast of Abraham), we’re all four going for about two weeks, over Christmas and New Year’s. We’ll be with all the other holiday travelers, but so it goes.

I’d love to spend more time there but there are these two concerns called money and time. Mr. Four’s job means we have a bit more money than we did last year… and a bit less time. So it goes.

The best part about this trip? Last February, we decided to take a trip this Christmas to Ethiopia. Only more recently did that plan change. But we’re back on track to taking exactly the trip we hoped for.

Tentatively we plan to relax south of Addis Ababa around Lake Langaro for a few days and then visit some of the historical sites up north.

We are still hoping to spend next summer in East Africa as well, specifically Tanzania and Kenya. I’m really excited for these trips–indeed, they are a big part of the reason we moved to Egypt in the first place. I feel my writing should be more infused with enthusiasm, so I will end with this:


27 October 2008 Posted by | bug, ethiopia, giggle, holidays, tourism | 4 Comments