To the Garden of Eden

Trip Start Jun 17, 2008
Trip End Jul 05, 2008

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Friday, June 20, 2008

Awoke to the sound of roosters at 4am after a night of very heavy rains in which the water came right down the hallway (no sealed doors between from the outside balcony). 

I think airports will become one of my favourite parts of traveling in the next week.  It's so interesting to see how things can be done differently.  Our passports were checked almost as soon as we got out of the van, and the metal detectors and luggage scans were located immediately at the front entrance doors (however, you need to go through them again at your gate).  We were all shuffled into a crowded room where they were serving pop and bread while you waited to board.  No signs to follow, just a guy walking through shouting destinations every once in awhile.  Before I really understood that this was the system, I thought I heard him call 'Bahar Dar' for the 2nd time, so I indicated that that's where we were going.  He looked at me cheekily and asked if I wanted to go today or tomorrow?  So we quickly ran down the stairs and jumped onto a bus that shuttled us out to the cutest little prop plane on the asphalt.  Must learn to be more attentive in future trips...

Met by our guide Kashz at the airport we enjoyed a drive to our hotel.  Lush palm lined roads and colourful singing tropical birds everywhere!  Could not believe that this is the dry, dusty Ethiopia that we have been conditioned to think of.  This is the garden of eden!  Outside our hotel is on the beautiful lake Tana with trees weeping under the weight of the fruit they bear.

A drive out to the famous Blue Nile falls was only 30km, but took over an hour due to the rough roads and traffic (cattle, children, women carrying wood, donkey's pulling carts, etc.). Everyone was ploughing their dusty fields in the traditional way:  team of 2 oxen, rough hewn plough, and handmade whip.  Often women followed behind sewing the seeds.  Everyone is getting ready for the coming rains!  Children tending flocks which roam everywhere, women carrying water on their heads.  It was all very 'National Geographic', and we felt that we were finally in Africa.  Homes built of eucalyptus and then packed with a mixture of straw and mud which hardens into a concrete-type consistency.  Thatched roofs and chilies drying out front (to be ground into berebere).  Children running along beside our van waving.  We were really enjoying ourselves!

Our hike to the falls took us past a 17th century bridge built over the Nile by the Portuguese in the 17th century, and past the cutest village of maybe 5 huts where all the children came out in bare feet to hike along with us. Our guide knows them all and talked to them about their most recent grades in school.  Only a few of them tried to sell us things.

The falls where quite small due to it being the end of the dry season, and mostly brown rather than blue, but they were still beautiful to see.   The locals call this 'the water that smokes'.  

Tomorrow it's a boat ride on Lake Tana to see some island monasteries. 
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Where I stayed
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