Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Heldts visit Little Ethiopia

Kevin had this past Friday off, so we packed up the kids and took a quick trip down to Los Angeles to Little Ethiopia. It's this little stretch of Fairfax Avenue with some Ethiopian restaurants and businesses, and a high concentration of Ethiopians and Eritreans living in the surrounding area. We'd been wanting to check it out for awhile now, and this was pretty much the last weekend that would work before the baby is due.

Right when we got there we met an Ethiopian couple on the sidewalk with two cute little boys. We talked to them for quite awhile. Then we headed into the Merkato which is a little shop with all sorts of things, from music and books and clothing to injera, spices, and other ingredients for Ethiopian cooking. There were little tables and chairs out front where a couple of elderly Ethiopian men were sitting, drinking Ethiopian beer. They were so friendly and were very interested in the kids. Inside the shop there were several Ethiopians just hanging out (they all seemed to know each other). They loved seeing the kids, and it was fun to talk to them and hear where exactly in Ethiopia they came from, how long they'd been in the US, etc. One older man even invited us to come to his church (Ethiopian Orthodox)!

Then we went to the restaurant Rosalind's for dinner. The food was good, but definitely not as good as what we had in Ethiopia. (Go figure.) Yosef was a big hit with the women working at the restaurant--he was also a huge hit in Ethiopia. Ethiopians seem to take to him much more than to Biniam, which is interesting. Anna REALLY liked the injera ("Yummy injera!" she yelled out at one point).

One thing I love about Ethiopians (and this probably applies to Africans in general) is how much they love kids. No weird comments about how many kids we have, no one bats an eye. I was interested to see how they would react to us and to our boys, because obviously there are two sides to the international adoption coin. Everyone we met though was just plain delighted to see the kids, and so nice to us, and thought we were doing a good thing.

Several of the people we met had a sadness about them when they talked about their country. One man, who's been in the US for 34 years now, has never returned to Ethiopia. He told me with this sad look in his eyes that he has no reason to. I got the impression that although they all have a deep love and pride for the country they come from, they grieve the situation there and almost feel their country has let them down. They all seemed to see Yosef and Biniam as being fortunate to have gotten out.

When we're out and about running errands here at home, or with other people, I am very aware that Yosef and Biniam are from Ethiopia. However, when we're in a setting like Little Ethiopia, I am very aware of Yosef and Biniam's American identity. I find this kind of odd.

So that was the trip. Well, minus the McFlurry's we got on the ride home, but that doesn't seem to go with the rest of the post!


5KidMom said...

It's good to hear the Ethiopian people understand and support your beautiful family, even if people like that wacky lady at the concert do not.

When we were traveling to Addis last April to bring Grace home, we met a girl in the Washington DC airport that turned out to be the sister of the man that owns a shop in Little Ethiopia there in Fairfax. I guess it really is a small worls after all. 8^)

Lindsey said...

Your kids are so cute its sickening! How crazy that our daughters will have the same name. Eric's grandma was Anna Tharaldson and they always had such a close bond that a few years ago Eric declared that we would name our first daughter Anna to honor his grandma who died 8 days before our wedding! I think its sweet! Hooray for Annas.

kristen borland said...

how fun! i love the effort you are making to get to know Ethiopia and the boys heritage. that will be a great asset for them as they grown up.

Brianna Heldt said...

Effort indeed! Getting to LA is no small feat what with the traffic! What I'm hoping for is, that our ties to Ethiopia will be really natural. Like, I want to learn how to make some Ethiopian food, and I'd love us to eventually know some Ethiopian immigrants. In other words, I'd love it to just be a natural part of our family. Our interest in and love for Ethiopia is genuine and natural so hopefully the rest will flow from that.

Rachel said...

Wow, that's a pretty long trip so close to your due date. I'm a scardy cat and assume that being more than an hour away from my hospital will spontaneously through me into hard labor! 12 weeks or so left for me!!!

Shana said...

How awesome that you have something like "little Ethiopia" near your house. We have nothing like that anywhere near us - not even one Ethiopian restaurant. That's why I ate Ethiopian food almost every chance I got while we were in Ethiopia! And Anna sounds like a girl after my own heart...I could eat injera all day long!


Blog Template by YummyLolly.com