Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.


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Nechisar National Park- Lake Chamo – Crocodiles – Jan 12

This morning Ayu took us to Nechisar National Park for a boat trip. We walked down to the boat ramp and I watched one of the men dry off the seats after a group of people got off of the boat.

I was wondering just how wet we were going to get on this trip.

When I was standing on the dock waiting I noticed a bird high up in a tree.

Other people arrived on the dock and were put into a boat.  We were not sure what was happening but we waited some more.  Jane, Sue, and Leigh went back to where Ayu was.  I stayed on the dock with a few other people who were waiting … and waiting … and waiting … and waiting.  I started taking photos of dragon flies.

I again watched another group of people get onto a boat.  This was certainly an exercise in patience, but I was feeling relaxed and watching other birds land on the dock.

A couple of young men arrived and I started talking to them.  They said that we were waiting due to a fuel shortage.  So I just waited some more.  I really have no idea how long I waited but finally Ayu, Sue, Jane, and Leigh came down to the dock and we boarded the boat with about 6 other people.

It actually was a shortage of petro that caused the wait.  But Ayu went right into action.  He called the Paradise Lodge.  The desk people where not giving him the help he needed so he reached the manager of the lodge.  They had petro delivered by motorbike so we could do the boat ride.  This was just another example of how lucky we are  to have Ayu as our driver.

It was a lovely ride on the lake.  I took a photo of a smaller version of our boat.

We watched some fishermen.

Then we saw more birds like the one I had photographed from the dock.  I learned that they were African Fishing Eagles.  What beautiful birds.

We passed an island.

I zoomed in with my camera and was pretty sure I saw evidence of people staying there.

Then we saw a few more hippos but just a couple of them.

Finally we came to the crocodiles.  They were lazily laying along the shore.

I sure wouldn’t want to get too close to them.

This bird sure pales in size next to a crocodile.

On our way back we passed the cave.  Now there were actually people there.  I found out that they are fishermen.

We saw more fisherman …


… eagles, pelicans …

… and a stork or some kind of heron.

What a great trip on Lake Chamo – worth the wait.  When we were walking back to the Land Cruiser, I saw this bird.  I have no idea what it is.

And we were off for today’s drive.

These are bee hives in Acacia trees.

There were a smaller group of women waiting to get water.

All of these motorcycles needed petro.

We arrived at Kanta Lodge for a quick lunch.   It is a lovely place.

Leigh had decided that she needed a rest and time by herself so she arranged to stay at Kanta Lodge and wait for us for the next 3 nights.

So we drove off to Jinka.  On the way Ayu stopped at the Jinka Market.  Jane and Sue waited in the car so I only had a few minutes to walk around the market.

I wish I had had more time to spend at the Jinka Market.

As we drove there were many children doing dances in the streets.  They all wanted us to stop and give them money.  Some had painted faces.  Some were on stilts.  We never stopped but I did sneak one photo out of the front window of the  Land Cruiser.

The Jinka Lodge left a bit to be desired but there were beds and a shower so not complaining.

 


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Dorzi People – January 11

I got up this morning at about 6:45. Leigh and I opened the door just in time to see the sun rising.

 

We were scheduled to leave at 8:00 this morning first stopped at the on site clinic for cough medicine for Jane and Sue. How nice for the Serana Lodge to actually have a clinic on the property.   Since we had to wait a bit for the doctor to arrive at the clinic, I took a few photos of the birds. Ayu said that they are two different kinds of Starlings. Their Starlings are much more beautiful than ours at home.

 

 

I sure enjoyed listening to their songs.

Jane and Sue bought some kind of cough medicine.

I again took a few photos through the car window as Ayu was driving.

We always try to switch seats about every couple of hours. Today when Ayu stopped for us to change seats, many people came to the car by the time I walked from the front seat – around the car – to the back seat on the other side. I was only able to take a photo of a few of them because nobody wanted to open the windows.

It was hard to believe how many people could appear out of the fields in such a short time.

We have seen more motorcycles on this road than any other.

 

We drove through Shashmane where there are many Rastafarians living. Ayu told us that many of them came from Jamaica. Apparently King H…. went to visit Jamaica during a very long drought and when he got off the plane, it suddenly started raining very hard. They thought he brought the rain. Many of them decided to move to Ethiopia.

I wish I had been able to get a photo of the group of women (perhaps about 30) who were waiting in line to get their 5 gallon orange buckets filled with water.

Ayu said that there is plenty of water in the mountains around here but there is no infrastructure to bring the water to the town. He attributes that to the corruption of the past government.

When we went through Windo Genate (I am sure I spelled this incorrectly), Ayu said we were going through 2 areas. On one side of the road are the Oromo people. On the other side of the road are the Sidama people.

We had lunch in Sodo where the Walaita people live. Soto has the largest population of the southern nation of nationalities. There are 88 languages spoken in Ethiopia. We loved this tree in the courtyard,

This is a community center near the restaurant.

These woman were selling bananas and we decided to try some.

We drove up a fairly long bumpy gravel road to visit a village of Dorze people. These people live in the Guge Mountains. One of the men from the village showed us around.  First he showed us a place they use as a guest house.

I stepped into the house and decided I wouldn’t want to sleep there.

Then we walked into the village which was very interesting. He showed us some of the bamboo fields.

Their woven houses, which are shaped in the form of a beehive, are constructed with vertical hardwood poles and woven bamboo. They have to cut the bamboo at just the right time so that it is less likely to be attacked by termites at the bottom. Traditionally the bamboos that are used as frames for the huts are cut during moonlight.

 

The houses are built to last about 50 or 60 years but he said that the above house is about 90 years old.

Inside the house, they build a wood fire almost every day. The soot from the fire sticks to the room and helps to prevent the termites from eating it. The termites do eat it from the bottom so over the years it shrinks. The door must be redone when needed.

These are a couple of photos taken of the inside of the house

 

 

 

They cook inside the house. There is a room in the house at the back where the animals live. They do not leave them outside at night. There is also another structure built for more animals because there is not enough room in one house.

They actually have a small solar panel on the house for a light.

They were growing pumpkins.

They raise honeybees.

This is what the old hive from long ago looked like.

These are the people who use the false banana trees to make Kocho. A woman demonstrated how she scrapes a grain off the interior of the plant to get a pulp.

 

 

They bury this product for at least 3 weeks until it ferments. The longer it ferments, the better it tastes.

Then she chopped for a few minutes with a large knife blade to make sure any fibers remaining are chopped up.…

Then she forms it into a flat-bread cooks it.

The Dorze people are known for their weaving. The women take raw cotton, untie it, and make small spindles of thread. Then the men take over and use the spindles of thread to make a single solid and long thread of cotton.

Sue and I each purchased a scarf.

We had the opportunity to taste the kocho with honey and/or something very spicy. Sue tasted the spicy choice.  We all tasted the honey.

We also were served a drink that they make in this area (he called it local beer but Sue and Jane thought it tasted like vodka). There is a ceremony for drinking it so I put water in my glass so I could participate. Ayu took a video of us.

I read that the Dorze are very industrious and are well-educated, comparatively speaking. The literacy rate is estimated to be 45%. They are “cousins” of the Gamo tribe, but consider themselves superior to the Gamo. The Dorze Christians are largely Orthodox, while the Gamo Christians are largely Protestant. They speak the Dorze language, an Omotic tongue.

We had a great time in the Dorze village.I finally got a photo of a man standing on a cart as the donkey was pulling it down the road.

It was about 5:30 when we arrived in Arba Minch. Arba Minh means forty springs. It is set high on the escapement and is supposed to have incomparable views over the twin Lakes Chamo and Abaya Lakes. The mountain between the two lakes is called God’s Bridge. We are not sure what causes the hazy conditions. Here are the views from the reception area and from our room.

The lake is brown due to a high level of suspended sediments.

Jane, Sue, and I went to the pool but we only sat on the side because the water was too cool for us. We were going to go to the steam room but apparently we needed a reservation. So we decided just to go for dinner.

We had barbecue fish and lamb for dinner. We looked at the dessert menu and asked the waitress to explain one of the chocolate dessert choices.. She said it was a new menu so she didn’t know. I asked her if she could find out what it was but when she came back, she said there was a new cook so they didn’t have it. Jane and Sue ordered flan and I ordered chocolate ice-cream. My ice-cream was delicious but whatever they brought for Jane and Sue certainly wasn’t flan.

At dinner we saw a fire in the distance over the lake. We were told they were burning charcoal which could have been the reason for the  unclear skies.  But Ayu  later explained that it was a controlled burn.  We have no idea what is causing the unclear skies.

We have had another great day in Ethiopia.


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Addis to Langano and Tiya Stelae – January 10th

We have been traveling for 9 days since my last post and we finally have enough bandwidth to begin posting again.  We started on the southern part of our adventure in Ethiopia. The traffic was again very crowded. It is hard to believe how Ayu can make a left hand turn on to a 4-lane street without any stop sign. He just inches his way out until the traffic has to stop. The cars just had to stop for him.

We needed to buy more water for this journey. Ayu tried to go to the water factory but they were not selling water bottles there. Ayu saw a delivery truck that was carrying bottles of water and he called out to them. About 5 minutes later we both pulled off to the side of the road and Ayu bought us 24 large bottles of water for the trip.

There were several teenagers moving between cars trying to sell things. Ayu said that many of these teens and young adults have moved to Addis from the south. In many tribes in the south the men have 3-4 wives and those wives have about 6 children each. So the older children move to Addis. They sell stuff and sleep outside. They tend to have no education or skills. If they can’t sell things, they become hopeless and are susceptible to becoming thieves and gangsters. The government is trying to help by offering training programs.

 

It took us a long tine to get through the traffic to get out of Addis.

Our trip took us unto the Rift Valley. This is where Lucy was found. Ayu explained about the Gurage Tribe. They have their own language. They consist of Muslims, Christians, and Protestants. They are known for grinding raw meat into tiny parts and mixing it with butter and sauces called kitto.

We passed many plants that look like banana trees but Ayu said that they are false banana trees. We will learn more about Kucho, which is a typical food made from the false banana trees or Koba.

We stopped at the site of the Tiya Stelae.  There are 46 large, decorated Tiya megaliths, which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the construction of such megaliths is an ancient tradition in Ethiopia, the Tiya stones are fairly ‘recent’, dating to sometime between the 10th and 15th centuries. Remarkably little is known about the Tiya stelae, beyond descriptions of their physical appearance. These large monuments likely had some cultural significance when erected, but their meaning remains unclear and very few efforts have been made towards understanding these magnificent monoliths. Our guide at the site told us about the sword symbols on the stelae. He said that it was a burial site for royalty. He distinguished between those that are stones for women and men. He also said that the bones of the people buried at this site indicate that they were buried sitting up.

This is a whole group of them.

The guide gave us explanations of the symbols on the stelae.  It was something about the swords signifying how many were killed by this person.

Or something about palm trees and that this one is for a man.


And this one is a woman.

We had lunch in Zoye where there is a lake but not near the restaurant.

We passed a tree that was filled with storks.

We are staying at the Serana Lodge on Lake Langano in the Oromia region. The lake is brown in color but that is due to the richness of minerals. I walked down to the lake but only waded up to my ankles.

They have a spa and I took full advantage of it. I used the hot tub (which wasn’t very hot), sauna, and steam room before having a wonderful 60 minute massage.

The surroundings around this lodge are beautiful. We had lentil soup and pasta for dinner. There was actually ice-cream available for dessert and I took full advantage of it for a chocolate/rum/nut sundae.


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Driving Back to Addis Jan 8th – Jan 9th

Again Ayu did a fantastic job driving over the difficult road out of Lalibela. All along the road we could see the pilgrims walking back to their homes .  It took 2 hours and 40 minutes to drive the 40 kilometers.

Ayu pointed out people drying both malt and hops.

These men were enjoying their beer.

We passed a man plowing his field.

This man is carrying equipment for the plow.

We passed some children carrying 5 gallon containers of water on their backs.  I didn’t get a photo of them but here is a photo of some woman doing that.  I don’t know how they can carry that much.

This man was washing his camel.

For lunch we stopped at the same place where Leigh had ordered a chicken pizzq that was very good so we ordered 2 of them for lunch.  There must have been a new cook because they were not the same quality at all.

Ayu stopped to buy some papaya for his family since we are headed back to Addis.

Children always seem to like to have their photographs taken.

In Dessie Ayu took us to a pharmacy so Sue could buy some cough medicine.

When we arrived in Kombolcha, there were many blue and white vans.  Ayu said they call them blue devils because they are such crazy drivers.  He sure can weave our jeep through the traffic.

We stayed at the Yegofe View Hotel.  There is not elevator and we had to walk up to the 3rd floor (which is actually 3 full floors above the ground level).  Dinner at the restaurant which is in another building was extremely slow.  think the cook can only make one dish at a time and there was a group of Chinese men who had ordered before us.  It was a clean and comfortable place.

In the morning the man at the desk came to tell me that my friend had fainted.  Actually somebody had spilled water on the marble steps and when Leigh was walking down, she slipped on it.  It was so lucky that she was holding the railing because she came down about 6 steps.  I am still concerned that she is going to be feeling that fall for days.

There were camels carrying the hugest loads of wool to the market.

Camels carrying huge loads of wood to market.  I was too slow for that photo so I just took this one.

Down the road we saw some children carrying bags of dung.

Most of the people along this route are Muslims.  Ayu said that they have increased their population over 40% in the last 20 years.  There were some houses that had 2 front doors.  That is because the men in these houses have 2 wives.

Ayu told me that they do not like to have their photographs taken so I got this one as we were driving

We went through a small town that was very dusty and crowded.  There were stores all along the road.  The interesting thing is that the road was paved all the way up to the beginning of the town and then unpaved all the way through the town.  The people looked very poor.  As we left the town we were again on the paved road.

 

 

 

Big market from 4 tribes on Monday in Sanbate.

Train goes to Awash

 

Acacia trees are not cut down – grow slowly

 

Malaria is being controlled but not HIV

 

Manze is where Ayu’s father and mother was born. Her sisters and brothers are Oromo.

 

Tarmabare Tarma means honey from ground bee – bare means gate

So gate of that honey. Where we bought roasted barley and my hat.

Debra berehane means Mountain + Light or light of the mountain

 

Getva Hotel

Fantastic soup, fries, and Chai

 

 

 

 


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Genna in Lalibela – Jan 7

Ayu and Zerdu picked me up at 6:00 am. I was the only one who wanted to go to the morning celebration at the church. Zerdu explained to me about morning Mass, which had started very early, was just about to end. Some of the pilgrims had gone into the church late last night so they were in the church for the Mass. For all the other pilgrims, it was broadcasted.

We started out together trying to get to a spot where we could see but it was so jammed pack that we couldn’t move forward. It was still dark outside and I noticed these 2 women standing on the side doing private prayers.

Zerdu took me another way around and we lost track of Ayu. I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get close enough to see anything. It was getting lighter and I noticed these 2 men also praying privately.

We were still too far away and I noticed that some people had climbed up a tree.

We were still to far away for a good view.

Finally we inched close enough to see. I was right by these two beautiful girls. I asked to take a photo of them and at first they were very shy. Then they agreed.

 

The procession on the ledge below us had begun.

They walked all along the ledge until they came to a spot that looked like the end.

One of the Deacons was carrying a large cross.

They just kept proceeding from the church along the ledge in front of us.

As they were walking along the ledge, they were chanting and dancing.

The special hymn of the day is known as Beza Kullu (literally meaning The Redeemer of All). Dancers, playing metallic sistrum (Egyptian percussion instrument) in their hands, sing the hymns of the holiday, swaying all together from north to south to the rhythm of the big drums. The dance is said to symbolize the praise made by the angels and shepherds on the night of Christmas. The chanters above the courtyard represent the angels of the heaven and those at the bottom symbolize the shepherds of Bethlehem.

Sometimes all of the people would break into a cheer and make a sound with their tongues. The girls that I was standing near asked me to try to make the sound. I made many of the people around me laugh because I cannot do it. The pilgrims around me were so welcoming. Most of them were sitting and I was standing next to them. The girls put their bag down and encouraged me to sit. Zerdu took a photo of me.

I tried but my knees just wouldn’t work in that tight position so I had to stand.

They were not only in there beautiful robes, carrying those umbrellas and crosses, but they also brought out paintings.

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I took more photos of girls.

Zerdo explained to me that the people on the ledge with the crowns were couples who had been married in the church early this morning. A requirement of being married in the church is to be pure (virgins).

A couple of women wanted me to take a photo of them. I loved doing this.

 

We stayed for a long time. I took several videos of the celebration. Then Zerdo told me that we had to leave and let me out through the crowd.

It is very hard for me to put into words the feelings I was experiencing at this celebration. I am not a religious person. The faith of these people is very different from mine. Yet, I was overwhelmed. Over 100,000 people traveling across the country to be in Lalibela for Christmas; the warm welcome I was given; the way they take care of each other with shared food; all filled me up with the spirituality of it all. I feel so enormously privileged to have participated in Genna in Lalibela.

It was almost time for the people to get together for their Christmas feast.

The first Christmas meal is often an early breakfast, eaten by bleary-eyed congregants after returning home. The light meal likely starts with juice made from flaxseed (to oil up the intestines after 40 days of fasting) before moving on to the famously spicy chicken stew doro wot, and it most certainly includes appropriately strong Ethiopian coffee to help welcome the new day. Later on, friends and relatives gather to enjoy a full Genna feast, usually involving a freshly killed lamb for mutton tibs and traditional beverages such as tej (honey wine). I am not sure how many of these pilgrims had a feast in Ethiopia and how many had to wait until they reached their homes – some of the very far away.

This would be one of the few times in the year that they would be eating any meat. I learned that there are 265 days each year when these people observe some kind of fasting by eating only one meal per day. They may not eat anything that is an animal product on those days so; basically it is a vegan diet. Ayu had been observing that diet the whole time he as been driving us from place to place. He could not even have a piece of chocolate candy because it has milk in it.

They took me back to the hotel for a very quick breakfast before we all headed out for a donkey ride up the mountainside.

These 2 boys walked along besides me telling me their story. They said that they are from a distant village where school is not as good as in Lalibela.   They are friends – not siblings. They live together in Lalibela so they can attend the school here. The 17 year-old works carrying luggage and the 12-year-old shines shoes.

I am not sure how true this story was but Ayu told me that it is not uncommon for boys that age to do that.

This is the man who was leading my donkey.

 

I asked Zerdu to take a photo of all of us..

We all rode the donkeys for a while and then the terrain got too steep so we had to walk. Leigh stayed behind with her donkey and the man who was leading her donkey. Zerdu said we would be back in 2 to 3 hours.

The hike was rocky and steep and at about 10,000 feet of elevation where the view was wonderful.

With my zoom lens, I took a photograph of the church below. You can see the long line of people still waiting (even thought the celebration was over) to get into the tunnel to go inside the church.

This is Zerdu pointing out things in the distance to us.

Zerdu took a photo of us holding our poles behind our backs the way the Ethiopian people do when they are walking along the road.

The hike up there was pretty hard and we were tired. Jane, Sue and I decided that we did not have to go all the way to the 13th C. rock hewn monastery of Ashton Mariam. The walk would have been even steeper.

 

So we stood around for a bit, purchased cokes for the men who were leading our donkeys from the local people, and got back onto our donkeys. Sue’s donkey decided that he didn’t want her and tried to buck her off. She is a good rider and held on with the help of all of the men. I couldn’t get my camera adjusted quickly enough to catch the event. Whew, she was safe.

 

Zerdu asked the men to take us back down a flatter terrain so we didn’t have to walk down the steep hillside. The flattop of this mountain is where we would have had to hike. I was glad that we decided not to do the rest of the hike up the hillside. Zerdu had called the man who was with Leigh and asked him to bring her down to meet us almost at the bottom.

 

We passed homes along the way.

 

I realized that although we were riding along the flat road, Zerdu was taking shortcuts down the hillside.

Although the terrain was very flat, it was a long ride back to Lalibela. I hadn’t ridden a donkey in about 14 years and I had forgotten how uncomfortable it could be. My legs were tired. My bottom was getting sore. And my neck was feeling the strain. Eventually we decided to get off of the mules and walk the rest of the way down to where Ayu was going to meet us.

After the mule ride we stopped for lunch. Then Ayu drove us to the Nakuto Le’abe Monastery. On the way we passed people getting water from a well.

King Nakuto Le’abe, abdicated his throne in 1270 AD and went to a cave to lead a hermit’s life. This cave has ever since became a monastery and has dramatic settings. It houses one of the most interesting collections of ancient crosses, illustrated manuscripts and other icons some of which are attributed to its founder Nakuto Le’abe.

There was a celebration with drumming and chanting taking place and we so enjoyed participating.

There were also people praying.

We where shown crosses and artifacts.

Holy water is dripping into the cave. Many people were being blessed by it and collecting it. Ayu collected some of it in a bottle. He splashed it onto us. He will also bringing some home to his family.

Our day was not over yet. Ayu took us to the home of Mazda where she lives with her mother, sister, and aunt. It was a very, very small room where 4 people live.

They served home brewed bear.

They served us injera with freshly slaughtered goat meat. It was delicious.

Then Mazda went through all the steps of the coffee ceremony. She roasted the coffee beans and then her sister ground them outside and ground them. She put them into the pot on the fire, added water, did something with water in all of the cups (perhaps rinsing them?), and served us coffee. I don’t usually drink coffee, but this cup of coffee was delicious.

Ayu told us that the coffee ceremony is done every day. The people who don’t work prepare the meals. They cook outside. Perhaps it is a community kitchen. When the person who works gets home, the sit down to a meal and all tell about their day. Members of other people in the small community get together often to share stories.

This is Mazda ‘s Mom.

We went back to the hotel for a shot time and then went out to eat at Ban Ababa which is a Scottish / Ethiopian Restaurant. The food was delicious.

It is hard to believe how much we did this day. We could not have had a better guide than Zerwdu . We are so lucky to have Ayu as our drivers


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Lalibela – Jan 6th

Over 100,000 pilgrims come to Lalibela to celebrate both the Orthodox Ethiopian Christmas and King Lalibela and we are here..

Ayu drove us up to the area of the rock churches where we met our guide, Zerdu.   We started walking towards the churches. This is the day before the Ethiopian Christmas. There were pilgrims everywhere.

They were sitting all over the ground.

 

These two women were sitting under a tree.

They were mostly dressed in white. I love taking photos of their faces.

 

We had to wait for Zerdu to buy our tickets so that we could enter the churches.

Many pilgrims were standing on the walls.

We knew we would have to get into lines with the pilgrims waiting to get into one of the churches.

They were so jammed together and we had to follow them.. This was going to be quite a day.

 

It was hard for Jane, Sue, and I to stay together with Zerdu. There were many stairs to go down and there were shoes left all over the stairs. (You can’t enter a church wearing shoes.

I asked Zerdu how all of these people ever found their own shoes and he told me that when they leave the church, they just take any pair that fits them.

There are actually 11 rock-hewed churches in Lalibela. They date back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’ after God apparently appeared to him in a dream after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land. Many of the churches are names after churches in Jerusalem. The city is, of course, name after King Lalibela.

The churches we visited in the last few days were carved into a mountain (semi-monolithic). The churches in Lalibela were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs. Amazingly, they only had hand tools like hammers and chisels.

Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’ after God apparently appeared to him in a dream after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land They only had primitive tools like hammers and chisels, etc. It is really unbelievable.

It would have been much easier to take photos of both the inside and outside of these incredible churches at another time of the year when all of the pilgrims were not there. But it is the pilgrims that made the experience so wonderful.

This of the top of the Church of Bete Giyorgis (Church of St. George). It is in the shape of a cross.

You can see one of the original drainpipes that was installed on the top of St. George. They are on three sides. Because they church is higher on the 4th side there was no need for one. It is amazing how brilliant they were at the time these churches were carved out of the rock.

And this shows a side view of Bete Giyorgis

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Driving to Lalibela – Jan 5

I am again way behind in posting.  We haven’t had adequate Wifi for the last 3 nights so I am behind 4 days.

We left Mekele at about 8:00 in the morning. As we were driving through town, we saw a herd of camel crossing the street. It is very possible that they had just brought a load of salt to Mekele.

It was a 290 km drive to Lalibela. I expected to just take a few photos from the car and there were some.

First we saw cattle with large horns. I think this photo with the factory in the background is fun,

 

A man who was selling a chicken was waving it at us.

The streets were lined with cattle today. Ayu did a fantastic job of maneuvering our jeep around and through the middle of them.

I took a couple of photos of the rock formations in the distance …

…and a couple of houses.

We went from the Tigray region back to the Amhara region through the Woldia Mountain. The construction of the houses is now wood again.

Very shortly the hills became much less rocky and were covered in some kind of green foliage.

Then it looked like a camel convention. There were so many camel along the road.

This woman was dressed very colorfully.

I just took some random shots along the road.

We noticed that a camel was sitting down with his/her front legs bent at the knee.

Soon we were passing small herds of animals. Ayu told us that they were all being taken to the Saturday market but that this one was very big because it was just before Christmas. The Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated on January 7th.

I asked Ayu if we could go to the animal market. He turned the jeep around and kept asking people which street to take to get there. There were more Bajajs being driven around this small town than I had ever seen before. There must have been a hundred of them.

We had an absolute blast walking around right in the middle of all the cattle, sheep, etc. at the animal market in the town of Alamata.

 

Some people were selling branches of wood.

I loved taking photos of the people

and they seemed to enjoy having their photo taken.

Sue even took this photo of me showing them their photo.

I showed the photos that I took to each group or person. The boys really loved it. Sue took a photo f me shoeing the photos to a few of the men.

I saw one man with a rifle over his shoulder.

It was not each maneuvering through the animals. At one point a large cow pushed right through where Jane I were standing and I spontaneously grabbed onto Jane’s hand.

On man had a large log on a wagon.

A woman was carrying her baby on her back.

 

We sure had a good time at the market but we had to get going because we had a long drive ahead of us so back into the jeep.

Seeing the bajaj following this truck caught our eyes.

There were so many cattle blocking the road as we were driving.

Ayu said all of them would be eaten .] at the Christmas celebration. It was really hard to believe how many cattle and sheep were going to be eaten in one day. They eat every part of the animals and often eat the meet raw. Ethiopians only eat meet on the holidays (Christmas, New Years, etc.). Families and communities eat together sharing the food. I leaned that Ethiopian Christians actually fast on 265 days if the year,. When they do eat on those days, they cannot eat any meat products. So basically they have a vegan diet except for the special feasts.

We stopped for lunch. The waiter suggested goat-meat for lunch. The goat had just been slaughtered the previous day. It was pretty good but not the most tender meat.

Ayu stopped to try to buy honey for us but they only had quart jars and we didn’t want that much.

This man is selling home-brewed beer. The orange cup in front of his house indicates that he has beer available.

The last part of the day was over 40 km on an extremely rough road. I don’t know how Ayu did it. We saw vehicles along the road that had been in accidents and some that were stuck waiting for a mechanic to come help them It took several hours before we arrived in Lalibela.  The whole drive took 9 hours except for our lunch break.

We checked into the Roha Hotel. I took a short walk before dinner  There were several shops along the road..  One is called the Obama shop and the another has Opera’s name on it.

 

The Roha Hotel  is the first place that we are finding to be disappointing. They do not put bottled water in our rooms. The reception people were not the friendliest.. We had been looking so forward to 3 nights in the same place.  But there are firm (actually very, very firm) beds and a shower so we were fine.  For a driving day, this was pretty good.