Today started out not knowing what was going on other than having to wake up and be ready to go by 7. We were told “take a fresh pair of underwear and your toothbrush because we might have to stay overnight”. We were then told we were going to an Ethiopian prison, and we would be able to see the Ethiopian country side. Aki (owner of the guest home) was in charge, and we found out we were going to visit his brother. He explained that in Ethiopia there are different prisons for the length of time you need to spend in prison. This particular prison was for people serving a 6 month term. Aki explained that in Ethiopia you can go to prison for 6 months for fighting. (guess I wont be doing any of that here) He also explained that his brother was in prison because he was with a friend that had stolen something. Yikes, in prison for 6 months due to association. Let me rewind this a bit for you, and tell you what we really did MOST of the day. After driving for about 3 hours the Ethiopians said 20 kilometers more. A few HOURS later we were again told we had 20 kilometers more. We are now a 6 hour drive from home when we arrived at the prison. All I could think to myself was, what was this ‘might’ have to stay overnight thing. We had driven through A LOT more countryside than I had anticipated we would. (It was interesting and glad we got the opportunity, but a van with 14 people some sitting on wheel wells for 10 hours today???) I’m just glad we have some good singers in our group, because that’s what we ended up doing most of the day. Ok now for the 30-45 min of what we drove all this way for… the prison. We walked around the walls to the visitation area. The walk was my favorite part because there were monkeys in the trees. We were patted down before ‘entering’/aka walking up to barb wire fence where the prisoners were held. I found it interesting that we just had to tell one of the prisoners who we were here to see and they would go find them. Aki’s brother and one of his brother’s friends came out to talk with us/Aki. We sat on a bench and he came out and stood by a wooden fence (maybe 4 feet hight) and not behind glass like american prisoners. Actually family and friends are able to bring food, money, clothes, or whatever to the prisoners. It seemed funny to hand a few bags through a fence like it was no big deal. We stayed for maybe a half hour and it was back on the road again. Yipee I could hardly wait. In all honestly it was great to see why Ethiopia has the most diverse landscape in Africa. We went through mountains and even through a few tunnels. The driver literally was weaving through goats, cows, sheep, and people walking on the road. So we ended up staying in a hotel. The hotel cost the equivalent to $3.50 per night, so it didn’t break the bank. I was just happy that we were able to get out to the van, and thankful that no one got sick or had bad gas in that very long van ride. It was a bonding experience for ALL of us whether we wanted it to be or not. In all seriousness though, today AGAIN made me think about how fortunate we are and how many ‘things’ we have. By things I mean material things, friendships, opportunities etc. For example a young boy washed my shoes for me today and I couldn’t help but think about his childhood and how it was very different from mine. Here he is washing people’s shoes for money to live off, while I at that age was playing basketball with friends in my driveway after school. I can’t help but feel like his childhood is being robbed from him. I wonder how different his lifestyle will be by the time he’s my age. (he is working for a reason at a very young age) Does he have family problems? Is he saving money for school? Why is this young child taking his own initiative? He is forced into being a responsible person at an extremely young age. I respect this little guy for working for what he needs rather than maybe begging for it. I probably wouldn’t have chose to sit in a packed in a van for 10 hours, but feel like the relationships built is more important than going to see hippos for example. Our group continues to enjoy the “black gold” or as we know it as coffee. Tibs (almost like lamb fajitas) is almost a daily meal, but I really like it. Over all today was a good day of rest for us. I think by the end of the day everyone is feeling healthy and rested.