>Travel tips: Prep

> There are a few things I’ve been meaning to mention, so before I forget, I’ll put them up now.

For those of you with travel to Addis ahead of you, two things.

The first one: get in shape people! {Thank you Shelly for the reminder!}
Really, no kidding. I had thought that I was in shape. I am pretty strong, I am fit and high energy. So, hey, traveling across the world to pick up a baby? No problem! Ha! My baby is now 26 pounds and despite the slings (NoloWear slings are fantastic) and such, my back is all spazzed out. I know what you are saying, “Hey, you are no spring chicken, of course it’s hard.” Well, touche’, it’s true. But I do stay fit, I ran a marathon last December, and one other unofficial one, not to mention oh, training for months and months and months. I bring this up not to brag (and if you saw me run, or run/walk {see Galloway} you’d understand that I never could} but rather to point out that it’s easy to presume you are in shape. But oh so different to live it…. So, I THOUGHT I was ready. My back begs to differ.

So, do the work: the crunches, the ab work, the lifts…..you’re gonna need it. Even those little bitty babies get heavy after a while and it’s a lifting that you are ecstatic to do, but well, it’s nice to be able to keep on doing it instead of being on the floor on your back, stuck in a spasm. {NO, that has NOT happened to me, yet….but it could happen}. And really, it’s MUCH nicer to coo and grin at your little one as you pick them up, again, than to groan as you lift them, don’t ya think? Better form and all?

Now for the picture above of Booboo and Little Man.
Prepping donations.
If you are bringing any new items into Addis, particularly anything that could conceivably be sold, try to get Gladney to give you a letter here that you can have on your person when you face the customs guy there. If not, more than likely they will hold your stuff and you will create a huge hassle for Travis and Belay and their attorney there. Anything new that comes into Addis has to pay 100% tax on it. Yes, I said 100%. So, they try hard to get around that and humanitarian aid fits the bill, but you need proof if it’s new stuff.

We brought in a bunch of deflated but new playground balls. We thought, “kids and balls, fun.” We didn’t realize it actually meant: new balls, crashing halt at customs, three hours wrangling with them, four days of hassle for in country staff. They finally got them out, but it was a problem. Our bad. Also, if I had just said “personal” as they asked what was in the duffels, they might have let it through (and it was “personal” it was ours, so that would have been legit, but I didn’t, who knew?). Or they might not have, but it’s worth a try.

Customs in Addis is like that, sometimes it’s easy and apparently, sometimes it’s not. But for a heads up, I suspect a lot of the hassle could have been avoided if we had a letter. The customs guy asked for one and we were clueless. Letter? What do you mean? It’s for an orphanage……and we naively presumed it would go through, no problem. Um. No. So, bring the stuff, but try to get a letter on the front end stating the contents and it’s purpose and where it’s going etc etc etc.

And yeah, let the kids at home play with them as they pack them up…it just adds to the fun!

3 thoughts on “>Travel tips: Prep

  1. >Wow -thank you for the heads up! I’ve bought a ton of new children’s clothes to bring and my son’s school donated a number of new items as well. I’ll be sure to request a letter from Gladney when we finally get to travel. Do you think the balls could have been covered in a letter from Gladney as well? Or would customs have questioned them as not being humanitarian aid? We had wanted to bring a few balls and parachutes with us but now I’m worried we’ll just create problems.Maureen

  2. >You know, I would just ask your caseworker about it. I brought new clothes too and got no trouble (said “personal” or “orphanage” for those and they passed right through, no interest in that). But it seemed kind of random, though balls and toys might have more street resale value…In no way am I saying it’s Gladney policy to get a letter, I’m just a mom, BUT the customs agent seemed to expect one and if we had had one, it might have gone through without the hassle. I’d email your caseworker and see what they have to say. I don’t want to create extra work for anyone either. They’ll know what’s needed, it’s just that we had NO idea…and if we were to do it again, we’d ask in advance.

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