Getting Back to Nature . . .

Trip Start Dec 25, 2008
Trip End Mar 28, 2009

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Friday, April 3, 2009

After a deeee-licious breakfast of our new favorite food - bula fir fir (false banana plant paste with berbere spices - it's only found in the South, home of the enset plant, and it takes over 40 minutes just to ground the leaves), we focused on the natural world during our second day down South. We first hiked in the forest in Nechisar National Park and then headed onto Lake Chamo - one of the great Rift Valley Lakes - where scores of crocs and hippos can be found. (The specific area where the largest concentration of sunning crocs is located is known as "crocodile market"). We actually had an amazing view of the forest and lake from our room in Arba Minch - a new lodge built only a year ago, but already getting a bit rough around the edges. (We learned that there's often little to no maintenance of hotels once they're built - why people will often just automatically send you to whatever the newest hotel is in town.)

The forest was beautiful and dense - home to the springs for which Arba Minch ("Forty Springs") is named, as well as big vines, good for swinging . . . We then headed for Lake Chamo after lunch, not realizing that the boats that go onto the lake are the only things in Ethiopia that operate like clockwork (except, of course, for Ethiopian Airlines, which we'd previously learned operates better than clockwork) - we were just 5 minutes late, but our boat had already left without us. We were able to get on the next boat, where we encountered some Americans for the first time - as I'd guessed when I first saw them, they were there on a mission - visiting southern Ethiopia and Kenya as part of a church group that has been in the process of translating the Bible into the native tongue of the most traditional local tribes (I'll refrain from commenting).

We went into town that night, hoping to use the internet, but the electricity went out earlier than usual, so we were out of luck for a while - good thing we were carrying around our head lamps, though, and were still able to take care of a few shopping needs in the dark. (Our lodge had a generator and typically had electricity until 10 pm (same as Shashamane), so it lasted a bit longer than the town).
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