We left Askum at 9:00 and headed to Wolleka Village. We stopped at the Plowshare Training Center for Women. It was founded in 1993. The aim of the project was to help single mothers who lost their husbands because of HIV/Aids, war, natural disasters or divorce. Many of the women who have been trained here have been victims of fistulas. They have 4-5 children each but the women didn’t have any profession before. In the Training Center they learn how to do traditional and modern pottery, weaving and basketry, also silk-screening and tie-day printing. Farming and planting is also an important part of the work. The products are sold to the local community and tourists to gain financial independence for the women and their children.
We were told that they have trained over 2100 women to do pottery and weave. . Sue is a potter. They gave her some clay and she created a bowl on the wheel.
We watched a woman weaving.
Sue explained to us that woman was scrapping the hard clay on a stone and grinding it. Then she would add water to the powder so it could be used.
This woman was creating a bowl.
I purchased a small trivet to remember this place.
Then we went into the Walleka Village. It was once the village of the Beta Israel (literally “house of Israel” in Geez) who were Jews who lived in Ethiopia for centuries. These were the people who refused to convert to Christianity during the rule of Abreha and Atsbeha who were the monarchs of the Kingdom of Aksum. The Jews do not live here anymore. Most left for Israel in the 1970s. The people who showed us around were all Ethiopian Christians. I was disappointed because I thought we were going to see the Beta Israel.
There is a stone which has words I could not read. So I sent the photo to a cousin of mine, Adiva, and asked her to read it. She said that the Hebrew words on the stone seem to say that this Synagogue was built in 1942 but she could not read the other language.
Here is the synagogue.
The place where the Torah used to be kept has been covered-up.
These are some of the houses in the area.
The people who are at the village now sell things.
After we left Wolleka, we continued to drive through several villages. We went through Amba Georges and Debark, which has a University. I took photos from the Land Cruiser window.
We stopped at the office of Simien National Park where we all had to sign the register. Then we had lunch. Since we finished our lunch quickly so we took a short walk down the street until Ayu was ready. Walking on the sidewalks was not easy because the pavement was very broken, uneven, and had l large spaces between the concrete blocks. It would have been very easy to trip and fall into one of them.
We picked u our guide and a park ranger and all crammed into the jeep for the rough gravel road drive to the park. It is a requirement all visitors to the park have an armed ranger with them.
Simien Mountains National Park has rugged terrain, which include escarpments, deep valleys, and a high plateau. It was established in 1969 after Clive Nicol wrote about his experiences in From the Roof of Africa. UNESCO made Simien NP a World Heritage Site in 1978. However, due to serious population declines of some of its characteristic native species, in 1966 it was also added to the list of World Heritage in Danger.
We checked into our cabins at the Simien Lodge, which is known as the highest elevation lodge in Africa.
Jane, Sue, and I went on a hike in the park with both our guide and the park ranger. We asked the guide if the ranger carried a gun because of animals. He told us that there were no dangerous animals. Apparently when the NP was first opened, there may have been vandals around the park or perhaps people who resented it being turned into a park. It is safe now but requiring the rangers helps to employ people.
The guide pointed out various trees and plants – none of which I remember. There were beautiful views.
We walked through a field that was full of Baboons. It sure was fun to meander among them. The ranger said we could get within a meter of them but just not to touch them. Of course we weren’t going to touch them..
Some people hike for days through the park, camping out as they travel. The guide noticed that Sue, Jane, and I were moving pretty slowly because we weren’t used to the elevation so he led us on the shorter version of our hike.
Ayu picked us up and we returned to the lodge. I was very happy to have enough Wi-Fi to finally work on my blog in the lobby.
The Simien Lodge is a beautiful place.
A man who I assume was the manager gave me (and Leigh) the password to his Wifi and that made it easier to upload the photos if I sat in the restaurant. It got pretty cold outside. They built fires both in the restaurant area and in the bar area.
After dinner there were people who played music and demonstrated Ethiopian traditional dancing from this area.
When I was on my way to the bar area to see the Ethiopian dance performance, the same man who helped us with the Wifi gave hot water bag to me so I would stay warm during the cold night.. He said it would be my boyfriend tonight. I told Jane and Sue about it when I saw them in the bar area. The hot water bag also actually kept me warm as I walked back to our cabin.
We wore long underwear and had extra blankets so I was pretty cozy sleeping with my hot water bag.