More Ethiopia to Nairobi
Trip Start Oct 01, 2002
158Trip End Aug 08, 2005
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Lalibela was really quite incredible. Home of 11 churches that are completely hewn and carved out of the mountain rock, both inside and out, complete with ornate windows, decorated pillars, walls and doorways and most interconnected by a network of tunnels that we explored by candlelight
Two days later the road to Bahir Dar was better and we reached the city easily within a day. It is an open and friendly city and our hotel had an excellent location at the bottom of Lake Tana (source of the Blue Nile), surrounded by beautiful gardens and full of exotic birds. The next morning we arranged a boat to visit the ancient island monasteries hidden away among coffee and lemon trees. The monasteries are elaborately decorated with the stories of the bible and contain ancient crowns and crosses but some are only open to men. At the end of the day while the men visited one such monastery, Sian and the other girls in our boat sat by the lake watching the sunset with some local workers. They showed us how they made their traditional boats from papyrus leaves and we listened to them playing the flute, which they had made from bamboo stalks.
Leaving Bahir Dar, we set off for the Blue Nile falls
Arriving back in Bahir Dar for the night we found three new passengers. Annabelle, a French Canadian girl we met on the monastery boat trip and a Dutch couple, Karin and Peter, who are cycling round the world
Ethiopian people are however significantly different from the other Africans we have met. They are distinctly lighter skinned and more Eastern (India and Nepal) looking. Some speak a little English and all that do seem to be students of some sort who constantly ask for anything and everything. This gets wearing after a while but Kev entertains them with his use of Amharic. Others even run barefoot along side the truck for kilometres at a time and in some villages it was really bizarre like that scene in Forrest Gump where he suddenly starts running and doesn't stop! Adults and children alike, saw the truck and seemed to look around and then just run after it. For miles up and down valleys and hills, sometimes alone and other times others joined in. They rarely asked for anything and didn't seem too worried when they didn't get anything and then just as suddenly as they had started, they stop. Truly bizarre.
On the 17th, with bikes strapped to the truck roof we all set off for Addis Ababa, stopped for a bush camp at the bottom of a steep and dramatic gorge and arrived in Addis on the 18th. We headed for a hotel where we had heard some more potential passengers were awaiting (more cyclists who had had an even worse time). Simon and Leah, an English couple and "BumBum" a strange German man who had even had his arm badly broken during one attack. Addis was a nice enough city, colourful and mostly modern but with its fair share of large stately buildings (The British Embassy has its own golf course) and run-down shanty-town areas, but we stayed only one night as we had a deadline to get to Nairobi to meet Paul's parents
Since we have been here we have met Paul's family and yesterday we went to the various animal orphanages in town. Watching baby elephants, some only 3 weeks old, hand feeding giraffes and then stroking and playing with cheetahs was all very special but at the same time incredibly sad as they are all victims of poaching, habitat loss and human settlements disturbing their homes. Last night we splashed out on a meal including various game meats and today we are heading to Mombasa for some relaxation where Kev's Dad is joining us for 2 weeks. Our cyclists have left us but we have another passenger, a fellow Aberdonian who may be staying until Cape Town.
Well that brings you all up to date for now, hope all is well with everyone.
K & S.