My Ethiopian Adventure–On the Road to Lalibela, Part Two


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Mountains pervade everywhere it seems.  We continually drove up and down mountainsides.  Eucalyptus is not native.  They were brought in by the Australians many years ago and became invasive.  They are a mixed blessing–grow rapidly and have many uses, but they take a lot of water and drive out native species.  When simply cut down, they grow right back.  In some places, we saw preserves where the original species of trees still exist and are protected.  Otherwise, eucalyptus reign.

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And there are several species of eucalyptus as you can see here.  Not only do the leaves differ, but also the color of the trunks.

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Almost all the mountainsides are covered with fields.  Ones, like this one, may have been just plowed or just planted.  In the mountains barley, wheat, and oats are grown and sometimes teff.  Barley seems to ripen first.

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At first, I suffered minor terror because of the steep roads and huge drop-offs, sometimes thousands of feet.  However, eventually I became rather used to it.

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These roads, mostly built a long time ago by the Italians, remain excellent and do have guardrails.  The Chinese have built some of the newer roads.  The Ethiopians make jokes regarding how long they think these Chinese roads will last.

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Eventually, we rose to a high plateau area across which we drove for hours.

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The endless shades of green, indicating different crops, or in some cases, the gold of ripening grain.

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Winnowing grain the old fashioned way.

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Houses on this high plateau seemed mostly built of rocks which lay everywhere.

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Amelu asked us if we wanted to see inside one of the houses and visit with some people.  Of course, we said yes.

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This couple had a somewhat older child who was out herding their animals–cattle as I recall.  At night they bring the animals inside their house to protect them from predators, e.g. hyenas.  They also provide body heat which helps them keep warm.  He explained in Amharic that   he did not own land, but was saving up and when he could, would build a separate house so that their animals would be able to stay in one and his family in another. I thought Amelu knew these people, but he did not.  His own children had outgrown some of their clothes.  He had brought them to give away so he gave them to this family.

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After we crossed the plateau, we dropped down and crossed a river. Because it was the rainy season, rivers raged everywhere, running dark with mud.

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The little shed is for the river guard.  We did not see anyone here when we crossed, but major rivers have guards often armed with an assault rifle.

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Almost to Lalibela–we discovered later that the rains were late and people were very concerned.  Crops had been planted and they were waiting.

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The first photo in Lalibela–the view from my room at the edge of a cliff–the Maribela Hotel.

 

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