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

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Today has some serious history packed into it.  We will be exploring the royal compound (home of King Fasilada), the Debra Berhan Selassie Church, King Fasilada's bath, Empress Metewab's castle complex.  Won't go into much detail.  If you're interested, check out a tour book!

Arriving at our hotel (on the highest peak in town) we have a fantastic view, and are able to see a glimpse of all the castles we will be exploring. 

The royal complex is right in the center of town and is comprised of several castles/libraries/lions dens of King Fasilada.  They may just be hollow skeletons now, but it's fun to imagine the walls covered in ivory and gold, and the banquets that took place there!  

The Debre Berhan Selassie church is most famous for it's ceiling of 104 winged cherubs looking down on you.  This church is also one of the only in rectangular shape (rather than circular).  It was round, but was changed to honour the Ark. 

King Fasilada's bath was built simply for pleasure!  Kinda like olden day pool parties.  It was under a lot of renovation, but you could still imagine it's glory. Every year even now, they fill it up and have a huge celebration to honor Christ's baptism (Timket) and many people are also baptized in the water at this time.  

Empress Mentewab's complex was a wonderful assortment of chambers, breweries, and prayer buildings (the most important) overlooking the city.  Unfortunately, much of it had been bombed so there was not a lot remaining. 

Ethiopians function on a different calendar than we do.  They have 13 months - each with 30 days, and the 13th has 5 (or 6 in a leap year).  They are also approximatley 8 years and a few days off of the Greek calendar, so this year they are celebrating their millenium!  Their time is also different (other than the obvious time change) - they are about 6 hours ahead, and they celebrate their new year on Sepetmeber 11th!  Everything has double dates and times so they can do business in the west.  Interesting how they are so well eductated about the West, but we are little educated about them...

Again, these people are amazing me.  A society where people fast approximately 250 days out of the year, most people want to be priests, and where Christ's baptism is the most celebrated festival of the year (with dancing in the street like David!). 
We're lucky to even celebrate Christ's birth and death - and that we bastardize with secular notions!  In comparison, these people have nothing - including basics like water, electricity and money.  Yet they have so much more...they've found what is most important in life - family and friends and a God who loves them.  There are no qualms about sticking your head inside a vehicle to say 'hi', running along a car to give someone a flower, or inviting complete strangers into your house to have coffee.  All we see are smiles and openness wherever we go.  Nothing of the rushing-head-down-suspicion-of-strangers I'm used to encountering.  Where did we go wrong?
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