Our family dedicated the day to gaining historic insights about Ethiopia. Some have pegged this land as the birthplace of humanity where God planted the garden of Eden (and hid the ark of the covenant). In the very least, it is the burial grounds of Lucy - archaeology's original supermodel. We saw her partial frame at the National Museum, posed in a glad box like a skeletal sleeping beauty. She will never wake, since her skull is not fully intact.
After explaining evolutionary theory to our children (an idea foreign to our family curriculum), we walked through the remaining floors. We discovered regal seats, crowns, and robes of former kings and emperors. King Selassie, the last to rule the country as king, had a giant throne crafted to disguise his short stature. His reign, however, was not short; he led the people through the second World War into the seventies. Marxism ousted him, but later the current republic won the day. The evolving (word if the day) Ethiopian flag serves as a marker of the historic shifts in governance, so explained our driver.
The higher floors of the museum showcased famous artwork by native painters and sculptors. I recognized The Skull and a piece called Demera - which was displayed at the orphanage - both by "honorable world laureate" Afework Tekele (neither a household name nor spell check-friendly).
Rounding out the museum's collection was an array of old jewelry, farming artifacts, and pictures of topless women. We did not explain this last part to our children. We did, however, buy several postcards to commemorate our visit.
History is not only learned from museums, but also the streets. Today we encountered more pot holes and homeless people. A woman with two bare bottomed children (their fronts were bare too) begged us for Birr. One of the children said, "I love you." The other said, "I have no food," while he crammed a roll into his mouth. We gave them nothing and swallowed our guilt.
While this beloved country is not rich, they are industrious. People line the streets, peddling goods, services, and making their way to and fro. New construction rises on every block. And the proliferation of malls, cell phones, and shiny vehicles makes me believe good things are coming for the nation. Case and point: they're now showing Batman vs. Superman in 3-D in the cinema on the third floor of the arcade. Yes, we did that.
So when we bring our son from his birthplace (and all humanity's, right?) to the home of the brave, we will celebrate his homeland. Ethiopia has rich history, growing industry, delicious coffee, and lovely people.