Jane was the first to take a shower this morning. In addition to the cold water, the shower leaked and flooded the entire floor. Oh well.
The man from the UN was eating breakfast this morning. Although he had a meeting to attend, he gave me a bit more information about the tribes that were fighting but I didn’t get the names clearly. He told me that in addition to the fighting between tribes, there are people who are not happy that the current Prime Minister is not favoring them. That is very interesting because almost everybody who talked with us told us how very happy they were with the new Prime Minister. I learned that those who are unhappy want to separate from Ethiopia. Hearing this made me sad. I clearly do not have enough information about the tribal issues in Ethiopia.
On the to Yirgalem we saw some houses that had false banana leaves all around the bottom of the house.
We really loved the flowers all around this home.
We drove through a town where some of the homes had very intricate gates. By the time I got my camera ready, we had passed the fanciest of them. I think Ayu said we were going through the area of Sidama (or Sudima) People. They decorate the front of their homes with stones.
This home has a gate, but it is not nearly as fancy as the ones we passed at the beginning of this town.
It was a very bumpy, rough road going through the town and our internal organs were again being massaged. Although we had to keep the windows closed, I appreciated that we had to drive slowly so I could see more.
I tried to get a photo of the mattresses that are mad with the teff.
At one point we drove through a town where we saw military forces with trucks that had guns on the top and officers with rifles walking through town. They may have had court orders to search houses – perhaps for guns. Of course, I did not try to take and photos. Ayu said that the government tries to educate the people who may be arrested.
It wasn’t a very long drive and we arrived at the Aragesh Lodge. What a beautiful place. We wished we had driven straight through to this place yesterday, but if we had, we would not have met the UN and European Union representatives. I would advise future travelers to go straight through to Aragesh Lodge and spend 2 nights here.
We were served a delicious welcome drink and headed on to our wonderful hut.
The weaving displayed in the reception area and the one in Sue’s and my room were beautiful. We both wished we could buy a weaving like this one.
I walked around and visited the kitchen where they were preparing the food.
Sue, Jane, Leigh, and I ate lunch outside. What an absolute treat. Aragesh Lodge has their own garden and they wash all of the vegetables in purified water. I was so thrilled to be eating this beautiful, delicious, fresh salad – the first one in a few weeks. What an absolute treat.
After lunch I wandered around the grounds. Gregory, the owner, invited me to sit down for a cup of coffee or tea. I asked for tea and he had them make fresh ginger tea for me. His son, Andreas, joined us. Tea made with fresh ginger was sure a welcome treat.
Ayu came back to get us and we drove into town for the Timket celebration. The celebration began in the afternoon of January 18th. The ceremony began with the priests in the town carrying the Tabot which is a model of the Ark of the Covenant, reverently wrapped in silk cloth to a ritual site where celebrations take place. In some towns it will be carried to a nearby stream. The Tabot is a representation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan River for Baptism.
When we arrived, Ayu said that the people would be walking along with the priests. I asked how long the walk would be and if I could walk with them. He said it would take about 90 minutes and that he would wait for me with the land cruiser at the end where they were bringing the Tabot. Jane and Sue decided to walk with me and Leigh went with Ayu to the end.
Sue and I lost track of Jane but all was well. The people were very welcoming. I took so many photos of the people as we walked along with the crowd. These are some of my favorites. I just loved being allowed to walk with them.
The people were chanting as they walk and somebody was drumming.
It was so festive. Some children wore white headdresses and carried umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun.
One of the drummers was a woman.
I just kept taking photos.
All along the route, groups of people were running along laying out a red carpet before the priests that were carrying the Tabot.
I lost count of how many red carpets were being carried.. There were what seemed like endless lines of people laying out the carpet.
One of the most relevant symbols of the festival is colorful embroidered umbrellas that protect the sacred Tabot and the priests who are carrying the Tabot. I just read that Tabot is a Ge’ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.
Men and women in robes were singing all along the route.
This little boy carrying empty water bottles never left my side the entire time we were walking
The mothers and children loved having me take their photos and showing the photos to them.
Sue and I reached the end, found Jane, Leigh and Ayu. The crowd of people were still walking behind us. I took one panoramic as they were entering the ritual site.where the priest had brought the Tabot before we drove back to the Aragesh Lodge.
What a wonderful experience being able to walk along with all of the people. I feel so privileged. I know that the Timket celebrations in places like Gondor. Lalibela and Addis Ababa are much more elaborate, but I think it was much more intimate for us to experience this in the small town of Yirgalem.
We returned to Aragesh Lodge for a relaxing evening. The lodge set up a coffee ceremony for us.
As they were preparing the coffee, we noticed that a man was feeding some vultures in the field below us. They feed them the leftover food from the kitchen.
We found out that one of the the reasons he was feeding the vultures was to bring the Hyena from the area up closer to us.
A bit hokey – but fun. We met some people from Israel at the coffee ceremony. Even though we have participated in several coffee ceremonies on this trip, I took some photos here.
While she was preparing the coffee, they brought us popcorn. I know this is silly, but I loved getting popcorn to eat.
We all went to dinner together and waited for the buffet dinner. Both Jane and Leigh decided that it was taking too long. Sue and I stayed for a delicious dinner. Aragesh Lodge has sure been a wonderful place to stay.