Day 19 - Debre Zeit
Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
68Trip End Nov 07, 2007
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Distance Travelled: 2778km
Frame of Mind: I could be in England getting rained on
A Comment on The Amharic Language
Spoken by 95% of Ethiopians, this is by far the lingua franca of the land. It has it's Arabic roots, a smattering of English and Italian from what I can ascertain. What it isn't is easy! Let's take one example: the word for 'thank you'.
In English - 2 syllables
In French - 2 syllables
In German - 2 syllables
In Mandarin - 2 syllables
I could go on.
In Amharic - 7 syllables!
Cheers (1 syllable) chaps. Nice gentle warm up. I've been here a week now and have just about managed to say it without making people laugh.
Day 16 - Awassa
A lovely little lake with plenty of bird life. The town - or city really, as it deserves the moniker - is a refreshing change: wide, tree-lined boulevardes, internet cafes, big buildings etc. etc. There's even a tourism info office, although they are not incredibly talented at bigging-up their city. So there's not a tremendous amount to do aside from chill by the lake. OK by me for a bit, except for I have no reading material and the only books that are available in English are the self-help-ultra-Christian-handbooks by some 'Doctor' or other in a big double breasted suit with a permanently clenched fist. Lacking light littoral literature.
Day 17 - Wendo Gennet
The lakes of Southern Ethiopia are all along the fault line of the rift valley. This means there are lots of hot volcanic springs dotted throughout the region. Wendo Gennet is one such place. 'Gennet' (hard G) apparently means 'paradise'. I think 'Wendo' must mean 'gangster'.
It's a great little place. A dozen or so little rivulets cascade from a natural shelf about three metres from the ground, forming a dozen hot showers. Unlike other springs I've been to it doesn't smell of eggs. There's also a large blue-painted swimming pool that looks a little tired but is bath-water hot. Tis all very relaxing indeed. The only minor problem is it was raining quite hard. Ok when you're in the pool but otherwise a little chilly...especially when you don't bring a towel. But who would be so foolish?
The hotel near the springs was overpriced and looked like a swimming complex in Swindon. The rain had abated so I decided to toddle off and find somewhere a little better. However I only got as far as Shashemene before it was too rainy to see and I was completely numb. So I drank lots of St Georges draught and read about Sudan.
What Would Happen If There Were Bar Events at The Olympics?
I think Ethiopia would do very well indeed. Every little village has three things: a pool table, a table football/fussball table, and a table tennis table. All of them are al fresco and have their rain shields and kids just play on them constantly. Of course table tennis is an olympic sport so perhaps they just aren't very good. I haven't seen darts yet.
Lake Langano is a popular weekend haunt with well-to-do Ethiopians. It has a lovely beach, swimmable waters, watersports, horseriding etc. The only problem to my mind is that the lake is brown. Not muddy as such, just brown! But it is Bilharzia free so I had a little paddle, got a little burnt, ate a huge Ethiopian injera breakfast (much to the bemusement of my waiter: "but...we have very nice eggs...and cornflakes..."). As dusk arrived the brown turned into an incredible ochre. Or it may have done if I actually knew for sure what ochre was but as I'm not an interior decorator....
There are three rift valley lakes in close proximity: Langano, Shalla and Abitdja. Allegedly one is blue, one is white and one brown. I'd seen the brown one so after a lounge in the sun I went to Lake Shalla National Park about 5km away from Langano to see the others.
I also felt like a bit of a hike after all that injera. There is a viewpoint between the two other lakes that is a good hour's trek through some small villages and a wildlife preserve with ostriches and deer. I was escorted by numerous children all requesting one Birr for their troubles.
The lakes are worth the trek. Shalla is a 266m deep crater according to one of my 'guides'. I'm not sure which is blue and which white...you decide.
Day 19 - Debre Zeit
150km away from Langano, towards Addis Abbaba, is Debre Zeit. This is the launching post for an attack on Mt Zakella and it's monastery. Most of that 150km was spent in driving rain, stopping for hot sweet tea when I couldn't feel my feet any longer. Eventually made it (looking a little like a drowned rat) to Debre Zeit where I booked into a posh hotel (well, 9USD) and spent 20 minutes under a very hot shower. Lovely! Have been unable to find anything about Zakella yet. See the next entry....