Much has happened since our last post. I know, I know, we sort of left you hanging in Ethiopia for about half a year. However, it being the last real day of Christmas break I thought people might appreciate hearing that Brandon and I are both still alive.
Yes, we did return from Africa in June. Our journey back was a difficult one for us as we were both recovering from illness. Delayed flights and long layovers made for a memorable travel experience—we were even able to take a trip to United Arab Emirates during a 31 hour layover. We brought back our amazing experiences with the African people and especially the children in the orphanages. Their warmth and enthusiasm for life were contagious. I also brought back a nasty little parasite, which was not a pleasant experience. I believe I got that from the “firfir” mentioned in the last post. Nasty!
Brandon and I started work on our book this past summer. We have found it a slow process, but we remain hopeful to finish the book. We spent the summer working near home, earning money for college. Of course, we found plenty of time to get together with our friends to run and hang out.
In August we both went back to college—Brandon went to Wheaton College in Illinois, and I returned to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. This is Brandon’s first year at Wheaton, and he is working on linguistics and considering possible careers. I am now in the School of Business at Michigan and plan to go into financial services or investment banking.
Our Christmas mail brought a welcome surprise package from John Wallace in the state Washington. You’ll remember him as the See John Run runner who was originally from Negaunee, Michigan. John sent us DVDs with footage and pictures from the end of our trip to Road’s End, Oregon. John’s encouragement is appreciated. You should check out his Web site at http://www.seejohnrun.com for a complete listing of runners who have crossed the U.S. on foot.
Shortly after we finished our Run Across the USA, a hacker attacked our Web site. That resulted in the loss of all the wonderful blogs from that summer’s run. Fortunately, we have a printed copy of almost every blog. Since we finished our Run Across the USA, Internet spam has been hitting our site repeatedly. Some of the spam has links to undesirable sites. For that reason we have decided to shut down the message board. If anyone wants to contact us, you can still write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Or, you can write me at Matt Wyble, N5958 County Road 577, Wallace, MI 49893.
The people of Africa desperately need clean water. Many of you helped us in our quest to raise money for safe drinking water. We encourage you to keep the African people in mind when you donate money to charitable organizations.
When we finished our trek across the U.S., we really didn’t think we would ever consider another journey by foot. However, as time passes we both are getting the urge to do so. We are mulling over the idea of trying to set the world record for hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, and Brandon keeps mentioning a desire to walk from the Gulf of Mexico back to the Great Lakes.
I hope you all have a safe and happy new year! Thank you for all your e-mailed wishes and make sure to stay in touch!
This is Matt’s mom posting for the guys. Matt and Brandon both called home today for our first communication with them since Tuesday. I missed Matt’s phone call, but Sherry Newlin did talk to Brandon. Brandon’s phone call home was frustrating as there was a significant delay in transmission. Brandon and his mother Sherry ended up interrupting each other unintentionally throughout the conversation. Here is—to the best of my understanding—a recap of what Brandon told his mother. Part of the recap comes from Brandon’s May 27 e-mail.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa. The Water for Africa group has been very busy the past few days. The group has worked on two main projects. The first endeavor was working on getting water lines connected between the orphanage and the water source. The second task was building a room on the orphanage.
Both Brandon and Matt endured a few miserable days of sickness this week. Brandon awoke with a sore throat one day and tried to shake it off. According to Brandon, “That night we tried an interesting ethnic dish called "firfir," which was good and spicy, but turned out to be a big mistake. We flew out to Lalibela and I was feeling a little sick on the way there. The bus ride that went out to the actual town from the airport was long, windy, and bumpy. As soon as we got to the hotel room I went to the bathroom (which became a rather regular occurrence.) I then didn't leave the room for about a day and a half, sweating and shivering, sleeping and waking up periodically to satisfy the call of nature. I don't think I've ever been that intensely sick. I'm better now, by the way. As soon as I could stomach some food I started to feel less weak and worked my way from soup, to omelet, and even a double-cheeseburger tonight (what a treat).”
Apparently the entire group weathered two days of vomiting and diarrhea before they returned to Addis Ababa. In Addis they saw incredible, 2,000-year-old churches that are carved out of stone.
Brandon says, “We were able to dance quite a bit at a party one of the nights too. We've had a lot of good cultural experiences.”
Communication is very limited--the Internet is incredibly slow; phone calls are expensive and not readily available.
On Monday the group will take a day trip to the Blue Nile. Then on Wednesday they will all start their journey home, with Matt and Brandon getting to Green Bay, Wisconsin, Friday afternoon.
I am writing for Brandon today. His internet in Africa is really slow so he asked me, his mom, to post for him. Instead of me writing things for him, I will just post an email that he sent to me.
Hello everybody, this is Brandon.
I don't have much time right now and the internet here is slower than
dirt (which is an incorrect metaphor), so I'll try to make this as
concise as possible and hopefully give you an accurate reading of how
the trip is going.
So far Ethiopia has been amazing. We took a 10 hour drive through the
mountains to get to the village, Babele, which we're working in the
orphanage to build another room. Although the natives did most of the
work, I was still able to work up a good sweat. The best part was by
far the children, who are almost too cute for words. We got a lot of
video tape of me teaching them the parts of the body in English.so
precious. We played for hours and could've done it for longer. We've
been staying at hotels most of the time, although they're much more
primitive than hotels in America. The bathrooms are less than clean
and we hardly ever get hot water. I think it's a fair trade-off
though, considering they cost between 10 and 20 US dollars a night.
So far the food has been amazing. They have delicious bread and the
way they season their meat makes it succulent. I haven't had any bowel
problems, although some of our team members have, which makes me feel
fortunate. I haven't even had to use my personal roll of toilet paper.
We've seen quite a few animals, including hundreds of camels, goats,
and donkeys that always seem to be congregating in the middle of the
road. One of the highlights for me was a herd(?) of baboons that
gathered by the road. We threw them a couple of mangoes and it was a
lot of fun to watch them fight over the fruit. We were able to witness
a battle between a goat and a chicken in the village, when the goat got
too close to the mother hen's chicks. The goat was attached to a rope
and was finally able to escape when the rope broke. Another incredible
animal experience was feeding a pack of hyenas.with my mouth! You'll
have to see the video to believe it, but it was pretty incredible.
We got back to the orphanage in the city of Addis in time for a going
away party for Eric, a guy from Boston who's been in Ethiopia for 7
years. At the party they had some traditional Ethiopia dancers (who
were kids that Eric had spent time with). After the ceremony, our
other team members went to go get fitted for some suits, while we
stayed behind to interact with the kids. It took us a while to break
the ice, but then we asked one of the dancers to come over and show us
some moves. We followed as best we could, but I'm sure it looked
ridiculous. After a couple hours of dancing we sat down and tried to
learn all of their names. It took us a while to get the pronunciations
right, but by the end we were getting pretty good.
The next few days we'll be taking in a lot of the historical stuff
around. Internet access has been very limited, and like I said, it is
incredibly slow. I'm typing up this email in word and hoping to copy and
paste it into an email box, but right now it doesn't look promising
cause it's taking forever to load. It is very frustrating because I
can't even check the emails that people have sent to me, so thanks for
the thought, even if I don't get to read it.
So, even if you don't get this, I love you all, even if I don't miss
you that much. We're having an incredible time and we both feel the
work of God in our hearts as we interact with the poverty, disease, and
tragedy that so many of these kids have gone through. It would break
your heart to see some of it.
We've been taking hundreds of pictures and hours of video tape, so
we'll have plenty to share when we get home.
The saga goes on.........
Well, we are several thousand miles away from home, but we're not in Ethiopia yet. Brandon and I are still in transit, along with a fellow member of the Water For Children Africa team named Caiel. We ran into some...logistical issues in Washington D.C. that caused us to miss our flight, and we ended up spending the better part of a day stuck in airports. We flew to New York, and last night we flew from there to Dubai, a large city in the United Arab Emirates. We were originally supposed to fly out 3 hours after our arrival in Dubai, but since we missed that flight it was another 31 hours until the next one departed for Addis Ababa. We decided not to spend any more time in an airport and reserved a hotel room and hired a taxi to take us there.
We have had a pretty fun time so far, it's like getting to see a bonus country that we weren't expecting to experience. The people have been very friendly and the scenery is beautiful, although it is very, very hot. We have booked a trip on the "Desert Safari" tonight, which sounds like it should be fun. I am told that we get to ride camels and belly dance. After that we will be heading to the airport: we fly out at 4:35 AM local time tomorrow morning, after which we will be on our way to Addis Ababa to explore Ethiopia!
We are just about 2 weeks away from the Africa trip and there's still a bunch of stuff to take care of.
Apparently when entering a foreign country other than England or one adjoining the U.S., there are certain procedures and forms that must be filled out. Matt and I are in the process of jumping through some of the hoops to getting a visa (which is a little nervewracking right now, because we've already spent over a thousand dollars on a plane ticket, and we don't want to spend three weeks in an Ethiopian airport.)
I'm actually watching a video right now of Matt and I in South Dakota from last summer. Oh the wretched memories of 100 degree weather and 40 mile per hour winds.
That's all for now,
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