Although the Sunny Side Hotel’s rooms in Kombolcha seem elemental to say the least, the food there is some of the best I had in Ethiopia. One of the reasons for this may be their extensive gardens which not only hold flowers, but vegetables and fruit trees.
That’s a papaya in the middle.
Dinner consisted of fresh talapia–Lake Tana is full of talapia and is a common item on menus, perfectly grilled, julienned vegetables sautéed in sunflower oil and seasoned with a sprig of rosemary. The next morning we headed for Lalibela. The first larger city through which we drove is Dese. As in most Ethiopian cities, new construction could be seen everywhere. They do not use steel for scaffolding. They use eucalyptus as in this building.
We continually climbed switched back roads. Usually, terraced fields lay as far as we could see on the mountainsides.
Not too far from Dese, we came to the smaller town of Hayk. Hayk is the Amharic word for lake. The town is named after this nearby lake.
Seven species of acacia grow in Ethiopia. These, higher in the mountains, appear considerably more lush than those farther south in semi arid places. You cannot swim in this lake because, like many bodies of water in Africa, the schistosomiasis parasite lives here. There is a cure, but not very pleasant. Huge fig trees and acacias provide a setting like one sees in movies.
This monastery resides on a small peninsula that juts out into the lake. The sign says no women allowed. Foreign male visitors may enter for a fee–locals free. Lush fields surround the lake.
Yes, that is cactus on the right–not exactly a place I expected to see cactus. On the road out of the lake, we saw this girl walking and asked to take her photo. She is carrying dried dung. Houses are first framed in eucalyptus and then plastered with a mixture of dung and mud or just mud. Sometimes they are left the natural dark brown color. Some home owners prefer to paint them bright colors.
This is a typical house in most areas left unpainted with a metal roof. Everywhere people worked the fields the “old” way with a beautiful result.
We passed villages and towns of all sizes.
And always children as well as adults drove animals along the road.
Eighty languages are spoken in Ethiopia. Some, like Amharic and Oromo, are spoken my millions, others by only a particular small tribe. Everywhere we went people knew Amharic, an Afro-Asian, Semitic language (like Arabic and Hebrew) which originates in the ancient language of Geez, a language now only used as the sacred language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. English is taught in elementary school, which is compulsory through the eighth grade. Because of too many students and too few schools and teachers, especially in rural areas, school is half a day. One group goes in the morning and another in the afternoon.