Hot Springs Resort at Wondo Genet

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
Trip End Nov 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Wondo Guest Resort Hotel
What I did
Tutu Fela Stelae
Wondo Genet hot springs

Flag of Ethiopia  , And People's Region,
Thursday, October 25, 2012

I was typing this in from my little notebook and got at least 2/3 the way through when all my typing disappeared except for the last word I typed.  I really hate that..

Back to the 25th of October:  Our day was off to an inauspicious start.  I arrived early for breakfast.  A table was laid out on the veranda and Monique ordered coffee.  Someone else did too and so did I.  Three coffees ordered.  At 7:30 am, a manager or restaurant staff person came and passed out menus and said something about needing to wait 10 minutes for our guide.  Maybe.  Kibrom arrived and things started moving again.  We ordered from the menu.  I ordered a chile omelet and Annie ordered a Spanish omelet.  I got scrambled eggs with chiles and then an extra plate of chiles; Annie, an omelet with too many chiles.  We waited and waited for our coffee and finally toward the end of breakfast, it arrived.  Jill still doesn't like the small cups.  Poor Anne had ordered boiled eggs but her 4 eggs did not come until everyone was pretty much done with breakfast.  I do not mean to complain but this is an example - an extreme example - of a restaurant meal.  There is the language barrier - we do not speak Amharic and the waitstaff are not all fluent in English.  Anne thinks that the kitchens do not have a lot of pots or burners and are thus limited in producing multiple items simultaneously.  Kibrom is always pitching in - whether helping with orders or handing out plates of food and drinks, and dealing with settling the check.  In retrospect, it is one of the amusing quirks of our trip....

We didn't start out until 9 am or after, I suspect.  We made a stop to look at baskets along the road and a banana stop (to buy fresh bananas from roadside vendors) where our car mirror was broken.

Our first tourist stop was to the stelae at Tutu Fela.  They are around 1000 years old by one estimate and are unusual in that there are female grave markers here as well as male.  It is believed that they are for important people - possibly warriors and the markings depict villages conquered or enemies killed.  I am not sure about the women - if they were warriors too.  There are theories that the builders were from the North of Ethiopia because there are similar stelae in the North, or possibly there might have been a link with Ancient Egypt and the stelae might be even older.  To the side of the area we saw wild coffee bushes covered with green berries.  Kibrom said they would be ripening in November.  This is a major coffee producing area here in the highlands.   But Kibrom said we should wait to get coffee in Addis because it would be roasted there.

We had a coffee stop at a trendy cafe on the way.  Then we stopped for lunch in Hawassa - a large city with modern buildings - and not so modern ones - but broad boulevards and clean streets.

The countryside was beautiful today:   AI jungly look with lots of banana trees along the roadside.  There were different kinds of huts and wattle and daub houses.  More and more traffic:  people walking, not so many horses as before.

We didn't arrive at the hot springs in Wondo Genet - the Wondo Guest Resort Hotel - until 4:30 pm.  We went for a short walk with Kibrom once he had dealt with all sorts of problems - door handles, etc.  I saw a man carrying a half dozen bundles of chat wrapped in banana leaves but didn't get a photo.  Barbara did, however, and promised me a copy of hers.  (She was wonderful and sent me several!!)  We got to cross a log bridge, climb up a steep hill, see and feel the hot water flowing down the hillside and enjoy the beautiful views in the falling afternoon light.

Next I went with Doris to the hot springs pool.  We had a comedy of errors as we both waited for the other.  I was certain she had left, so I walked down to the pool by myself and then she came.  I had thought she was in a different room when I knocked on a door and she didn't answer.  Oh, well, we did get there and enjoyed the hot pool (at 85 degrees).  The cooler pool was too cool, but about 20 minutes was sufficient for us at the hot springs because the hot water did tire you out.  I trudged back up the hill to the hotel with my feet sliding and slipping in my wet flip-flops, my sarong falling off, and several kids poking and pinching me when I turned my back on them.  Not so cute kids.  Much more amusing in retrospect than at the time.

At dinner I found out that my last expected night on the tour was not included.  Martina had been talking about it, but I assumed it was an extra night somehow.  Several of us were in the same boat and Kibrom tried to sort it out for us to no avail.  I brought out my payment receipt and another paper and convinced Kibrom, but we were not able to convince Exodus.  I am not so happy with them.  I did eventually get my refund and Exodus was gracious about it.


Time to reflect - in trying to get down all the activities and facts that I can muster, I have left out major and minor impressions.  What are they, really??

One of the things I love best about traveling is seeing the different landscapes.  Ethiopia has much more variety in landscape than I expected - at least for the South. I expected it to be scrubby and arid.  The Omo Valley was greener in places than I imagined.  Of course, it was right after the rainy season ended in September.  Climate - or weather-wise - Ethiopia has been great - warm, sunny days and cooler nights.  Some of the days in the 4x4s have been hot but there is usually a breeze with the windows open as long as we were in the country and not the more urban areas with the heavy exhaust fumes and smoke from fires. 

People here are very handsome - and friendly and warm - once you get over the farange =$ syndrome.  Kibrom has a wonderful sense of humor.  I like how he deflects whining without ignoring the issue either.  The drivers and the chef, our  primary contact with Ethiopian people outside of Kibrom, all seemed like nice, genuine people.  I expected that taking photos of people would not be easy but I did not anticipate that so many people would be putting their hands out or wanting to take advantage of tourist ignorance to overcharge us.  Most children we encountered wanted money or gifts, even if the gifts were only empty plastic bottles.  This is definitely the downside of being a tourist.

I probably expected more poverty.  Even though most people do not have a Western standard of living with TVs, cars, big houses and every imaginable convenience, they did not seem malnourished.  Most of the animals we saw - cattle, goats, cats & dogs - seemed pretty healthy too.  Kibrom had mentioned at one point that the news of starving people in Ethiopia was exaggerated for political reasons.  People in the countryside certainly seem to walk a lot - the roads were almost always crowded with people - especially in the morning and evening when they were going to and coming back from the fields.   There are more dirt roads here than at home, for sure, but, except for the dust being breathed in, I like it better than all the concrete and asphalt at home.

I could rhapsodize about the joys of the simple life but I know that people's lives here are much harder than mine.  I can try to overlook their desire to get money or something from me, yet still I find it irritating.  On a more positive note, the country is so beautiful and I love the music the drivers played in the cars.  There is dancing and celebration and good food and drink.  Ethiopia has been a great place to visit - to see the exotic attire of the tribal people - the picturesque houses, the lovely lakes with all the big birds!

So maybe I should have left off my impressions - nothing very exciting here really?

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