Sep 03, 2011
Last week I mentioned I had some amazing juice with a couple of Spanish girls. Karla was actually from Guatemala and Alicia was from Spain. I ran in to them a few days later and they invited me to go up north to Gondar. They already had their plane tickets bought and they were to fly out the following morning at 7:00am so I decided to go to the airport with them at 5:00am to see if I could luck out and get a ticket for myself. Everything worked out great and I was able to purchase the ticket for $50 USd. Sara and Chesca from Spain also joined us for the trip to Gondar. All of these girls had been living here in Ethiopia and volunteering at hospitals for the past 5 or 6 months which made it great traveling with them seeing how they knew some of the local language and knew what the fair prices were. Ethiopia is horrible for overcharging foreigners. The castle we visited in Gondar actually had a sign showing the locals price and the foreigners price which was nonnegotiable. The price for locals was only 10 birr and the foreigners price was 100 birr. It shows you how easily you can be ripped off. It is a constant battle with merchants, bus drivers, taxi drivers and hotels. We stayed in Gondar one night and the next day we caught a bus to the small village of Awra Amba. This little community was amazing. There was 462 people living in it and they all worked together to survive. They had there own weaving factory where they were hand weaving 100% cotton fabric. The people living there were vey nice and treated the locals and foreigners equally. They actually have meetings every two weeks with the children to remind them they are never supposed to ask any of the guests for money and if they need money they have to work for it with their own hands. This was a major change from the streets of Addis where you will be encountered by beggars every other minute. We were able to hang out with the kids and enjoy it knowing they expected nothing but a friendship. A young 13 year old boy named Awocka and I became very close. We had our picture takin together and he made me promise I would send him a copy someday. After visiting the village we caught a bus to Bahir Dar which is a very nice city on the edge of a huge lake. Chesca had to fly back to Spain but another Spanish girl named Sandra joined up with us and we hiked over a mountain to see the Blue Nile falls about an hour from the city. The following day 6 of us decided to go back to the village. So I found a photo printing shop and had the pictures printed for my new friend. The four that joined Sara and I had never been there but they also seemed very impressed with the small community lifestyle. I found Awocka shortly after we got there and gave him his picture. He was super happy and speechless. I wrote on the back of the pictures for him and asked which date he wanted me to put on them because Ethiopia has a it's own calendar and time. He told me the Ethiopian date which was 4/10/2004. Ethiopia has 13 months of sunshine with one month only having five days in it somewhere towards the end of our Gregorian calendar year. Their New Year is celebrated in September and they are currently about 7 years behind us but by the looks of things it seems like they are a hundred years behind. The time is way different than any other as well. When the sun comes up in the morning it is 6:00am international time but Ethiopian time it is 0:00am, 7 is 1:00 and so forth meaning 12:00 is always 6:00, it is pretty confusing and you have to clarify every time whether the plan is made for international time or Ethiopian. Awocka then asked me to go to the computer room with him because he wanted to show me something. He started showing me pictures of his family on the computer pointing out his brothers and sisters and then pointed out his father. It surprised the heck out of me when I realized his father was the founder of the town whom I had met a few days before. They are great people and I hope to see Awocka again someday in the future, I know he will grow in to a wonderful man. After visiting the village we headed back to Bahir Dar for the night and caught a flight to Lalibela which is further north. My friends had already purchased their tickets so I decided to join them. Lalibela is an amazing place and everyone should see it before they die. It is famous for its Christian churches chiseled in the solid rock mountains. You really need to google Lalibela to read more about it but I will post a few of my pictures below. I am sorry I am not able to post as many pictures as I would like to but the Internet is super slow and it is always a battle to use. While we were in Lalibela Sara, Sandra and I woke up at 5:00am to see the sun come up over the Saint Jorge church and were also able to be a part of the early morning prayer which happens everyday at sunrise. We then had breakfast and flew back to Addis Ababa so they could catch their flight back to Spain for Christmas. I will sure miss them as I will be spending Christmas somewhere here in Ethiopia with who knows who but it will still be awesome! Merry Christmas everyone!