My Ideal Audience


The fourth assignment in my newest experiment, Word Press’ Blogging 101 class, is to write a post for my ideal audience. My immediate reaction was, “There is no such person; I do not have an ideal audience.”  I might be able to come up with three or four persons, some of whom might like the recipes, others might enjoy the travel posts, and another group might react to comments on the environment, international politics, and sundry controversial topics.  Finally, a few, perhaps more, might relish the occasional poetry pieces.  After all, my haiku posts attained more readers than I ever expected.  The challenge then might be to write a post combining several of these but how?  Here we go on another adventure.

My idea reader would enjoy literature, especially the serious and more especially literature from other countries and cultures, like to eat hot foot from diverse cultures, travel to other places besides here and Europe, care about the environment, follow international politics, and, even though not previously mentioned, like horses, prefer the country to the city, and enjoy a wide variety of music.  Do such individuals exist?  Where are they and how do I find them?

Here is my first attempt at covering at least two of these topics:

Last summer, as former followers know, I traveled with friends to Ethiopia for three weeks via Dubai.  Because I love the stuff, I brought back an entire kilo of berbere.  Mine follows the special recipe of my Ethiopian friend’s mother.  She had it made special just so we could bring it home.  Actually there were three kilos in my bag but only one for me.  My new favorite salmon recipe involves the use of berbere.  Unlike some, hers is more rich and spicy rather than really hot.  This will serve one to two, just increase the amount of all the ingredients to suit the number of people you plan to feed.

1-2 portions wild sockeye salmon–you could use any type of course

4 medium to large brussel sprouts, coarsely chopped

1/2 purple onion chopped coarsely

Several broccoli florets

1/2 ripe bell pepper, seeded and chopped

Olive oil

Berbere

Cover the bottom of a skillet with olive oil.  Add onions and sauté until translucent.  Add the brussel sprouts and sauté until nearly tender.  Add the peppers and broccoli.  Sprinkle a light layer of berbere over all the vegetables as you cook them.  Stir occasionally.  Add the salmon, skin side down.  Sprinkle berbere over the salmon so the salmon is covered but only lightly.  You can add more to taste.  Continue cooking until the salmon flakes.

I serve this with rice.  The rice in the photo is basmati.  See previous posts for the special way I cook rice.  Sometimes I vary the vegetables using poblano peppers, carrots, Swiss chard–whatever I happen to have or feel like eating at the moment.  Pick what you like.

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This, honestly, is nothing like real Ethiopian food in part because I do not have teff and do not know how to make injera.  The photo below shows me and friends in a restaurant in Gonder, Ethiopia, in my idea of food heaven.

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My Ethiopian Adventure–Final Days


It took me a while to post this because I did not want the adventure to end.  Of course, it will never end in my heart and mind.  Nevertheless, this last post about my three week adventure brings a feeling of termination I have apparently attempted to avoid.  I spent the last few days of my trip, staying with my friend’s parents in Adama.  They took me on the wonderful adventure described in my last Ethiopian post, the day trip to Awash National Park.  Later, we went shopping for gold, silver, and textiles, ate, wandered around, visited, relaxed.  We listened to the Muslim call to prayer and the Ethiopian Orthodox chanting.  One day I heard another voice over the loud speakers and asked, “What is this one?”  The Pentecostals competing–three types of churches all on loud speakers, calling people to worship.  Because at least two of them start before dawn, it kept my friends up.  By this time in the trip, I had earned to sleep through it all.

I like the climate in Adama, especially after being cold for most of the first half of the trip.  It seemed I could put on multiple layers and still shiver.  Adama is nice and warm, hot, but not too hot.  Flowers and tropical fruits thrive as in the photos below–my friend’s mother’s lush garden and her elegant table.

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The plates are an Ethiopian design apparently only available there–Ethiopian figures in a circle. Even breakfast is a work of art.

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The neighbor’s grape arbor amazed me.  I have never seen anything like it.

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Zoning remains unheard of here.  Next to a new, well built, modern house where one or two families may live is a place like this or the one on the other side of my friend’s parents’ house where both cows and no one knew exactly how many people live.

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In the dark space in the middle of the above photo live two cows–if they have not been slaughtered by now.  From this vantage point I could see a minaret, a modern wind farm on the far hill, cows, goats, an empty lot, a luxurious looking house being built on the other side of this adjoining lot, everything from the most modern to the ancient.  Every bedroom possessed its own little patio.  The photo below shows the view from mine.

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So we would not have to make a mad rush to get me to the airport through Addis traffic, we went back to Addis the day before my flight out.  I took a few photos from the front of the Addis airport before I left.

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Due to the kindness of a complete stranger, I made my flight.  When I was about to go through the passport line, I discovered I had my friend’s passport which meant she had mine.  In Bahir Dahr, we had to show our passports to the hotel before getting keys for our rooms.  Apparently, the young man switched them when he gave them back to us.  We took them and put them away without looking.  My phone did not work in Ethiopia.  I experienced a major panic.  I had my Ethiopian friend’s phone number but no phone.  I explained to the guy checking passports the problem.  The man standing in line next to me heard and offered his phone.  He actually got out of line to help me.  I did not recognize his accent and have no idea his country.  He called the number for me.  The call failed to go through.  He waited, tried again.  Eventually, it all worked out and I made my flight, all due to this man’s patience and kindness.  When I finally made it inside the airport, several people who had heard the problem actually came up to me and told me they were worried I might not make it.  I knew none of them; yet they cared.

With a six hour layover in Dubai, I had a lot of time to wander, drink coffee, explore the airport, which is huge, really huge.  I bought some perfume–Muslim perfume with no alcohol in it.  I like it so much, I will have to figure out how and where to order it when it runs out.  Many of this airport’s shops are opulent.  People stood in line to buy gold, high end cosmetics, designer everything.  It is cosmopolitan, clean, efficient, fancy, welcoming.

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In this airport, I saw one of the women who was relieved to see me inside the airport at Addis after my passport scare.  She unfortunately experienced a frightening incident during the flight and they had to give her oxygen.  We chatted, she seemed fine finally.  As I write this, what do I remember most of those last 36 hours of the trip:  the kindness and concern of total strangers.

 

My Ethiopian Adventure: The Great Rift Valley and Awash National Park


My friend’s parents live in Nazret or Adama, depending on which Ethiopian language you speak.  Nazret is the Amharic name and Adama is Oromo.  After relaxing a couple of days there, we headed toward Awash National Park for a day trip.  What a contrast to the previous part of our journey.  Intense green and cold totally gone.  What we saw here probably fits more with what most Americans picture when they hear the word Ethiopia.

On the way out of town into the country, we passed fields of various crops including this sugar cane field.

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We also saw fields cultivated for sowing teff.  Since I had seen teff fields previously in the green, high mountain country, I came to the conclusion that teff successfully grows in a wide variety of climates and altitudes.

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This is volcano country.  Although most are extinct and have not erupted in hundreds to thousands of years, at least one in sight of the highway has erupted within recent history.

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Throughout the trip we saw small villages of traditional round houses with thatched roofs, most with rock walls around them.  These walls provide protection from predators such as hyenas.  And then suddenly we were there, a place I so wanted to see, the Great Rift Valley, the place where the oldest totally intact hominid skeleton was found, Lucy.

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The Great Rift Valley goes for thousands of miles from farther south in Kenya up through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.  I was very surprised to discover they grow grapes here in Ethiopia and produce wine.  We decided to try it; the merlot was good.  A series of unique lakes lay in the valley.  I would like to go back and visit all of them.  Some are filled with so many chemicals, you cannot drink the water and no fish live there. An example is Metehara Lake.  The fish are delicious, but the water cannot be safely drunk.  The most amazing thing about this lake is that it grows approximately four inches annually.  In the last few years, the road had to be relocated because of it.

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First glimpse of the lake.  Then we had a flat tire which delayed the trip a few hours because not only did Dino and his dad have to change the tire, but we had to stop in the town of Metehara to buy a new spare which entailed bargaining and more bargaining.  Dino’s mom hiked down the road to get rocks to keep the vehicle from rolling.  If I had realized what she was doing, I would have done it myself.  She is in her 70s.

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A little adventure occurred here.  First, while they were working on the tire, a man came along and offered to help.  His truck (this is a major highway between Adama and Djibouti) had broken down nearby.  Then an Afar teenager came along and looked around, saying nothing.  I realized he had a dagger in the back of his clothes when he walked off.  Finally, an Afar man, maybe in his late 40s or 50s came along.  The Afar are a nomadic people who have lived in East Africa for thousands of years.  The men are noted for their ferocity.  Their lifestyle has changed little; instead of spears, they now carry assault rifles slung across a shoulder.  They herd cattle, goats, and camels.  He walked around the vehicle and came up to me.  Neither of us knowing the others’ language, the tiny conversation consisted of gestures.  Dino suddenly told me to get in the car.  At first I ignored him.  A couple of minutes passed; he loudly repeated the order.  I got in the car, wondering why.  When I asked, he told me one never knows what the Afar are going to do and pointed out just how close the man had stood.  I never noticed; I have no personal space.

Tire changed, we drove toward the town close to the lake.

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Crossing thèse lava beds would be difficult.  As we dropped lower, we drove on the new road by the lake.  You can see the old road crossing the middle of the photo below.  It is nearly covered with water.

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We missed the entrance to the park, realized we had gone too far, turned around, and headed back.  The entrance to the lodge is more like what most people think of when they think of Africa.

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This was one of my favorite places:  it was warm, almost hot.  I saw lesser kudus several times, but they seemed so ordinary to the others that no one stopped so I could take a photo. The lodge was delightful and the shiro some of the best I had.  Loved it.  I even asked for the recipe. The resident ostriches, however, looked rather pathetic.

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Here the Awash River is full of crocodiles.  Our first glimpse was through binoculars from the lodge restaurant.

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Dino’s mom posed with me while we waited for lunch.  Then we hiked down to the river and the falls where we saw even more crocodiles.

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The falls are so large that I could take a photo of only a portion of them at the top where the hike down begins.

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The green between the two sections of the falls was totally covered with water a few weeks later when Dino’s brother travelled there with his family.

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I loved walking along the river banks, careful, however, because of the crocodiles.  They may look slow, but they can really move rapidly when they choose to do so.

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Crocodiles like basking in the sun.

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Along the highway, camels graze, boys herd large flocks of goats, and a totally different species of acacia appear.

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If you look at the background of the photo below, you can see long lines of corrals–for camels to export to Yemen and other areas where camels are eaten.  If you live in Amarillo, Texas, and order in advance, you can eat camel at the Somali restaurant on Amarillo Boulevard.

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Unlike most of Ethiopia where we had previously travelled, here we saw fences especially around villages.  They bring the livestock in for protection from not only hyenas but also lions.  Yes, lions live here.  I asked if they ever see them.  I was told, “No, but you sometimes hear them roar at night.”  They also told me that the lions like to go down to the sugar cane factory, but no one knows why.

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When I want an Ethiopia “fix”, I listen a audio/video of Awash Falls.

 

Talapia with Beets, Red Peppers, Swiss Chard and Bebere


This recipe makes good sized portions for two people.

2 talapia filets

1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped into bite sized pieces

1 medium sized beet, thinly sliced

2 handfuls Swiss chard–if large pieces, take a knife and separate the middle spine from the leaf part

Chop the spines and add to the onion

Olive oil

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil.  Add the onions, chopped Swiss chard spines, and beets–I cut the beet slices in half.  Saute until the onions are somewhat caramelized and the beets almost tender.  Add the peppers and 1-2 tablespoons bebere or to taste.  When the peppers are half done, add the filets.  Sprinkle extra bebere over the filets.  When they are almost tender, add the Swiss chard and sauté until the Swiss chard wilts.  Serve over rice.

Note:  I grow my own Swiss chard in a large pot in the house.  This enables be to have my own supply.  However, the leaves are tiny compared to the large leaves in the market, making it unnecessary to cut the green leafy part away from the center spine.  Bebere is an Ethiopian spice which is slightly hot; it has a wonderful, unique flavor. You can use whatever spices you prefer.

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My Ethiopian Adventure: On the Road from Debre Markos to Addis, Crossing the Nile Gorge


Once again, we drove through rain and clouds and endless fields, some of which had been cultivated ready to plant and some all green and growing.

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I realize this is not what most people in the United States think when they hear the word Ethiopia.  I kept thinking of photos I had seen of Ireland.

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The ancient grain, teff, produces extremely tiny seeds which are ground to flour to make injera, an Ethiopia staple.  It is used much like people in India use chapatis or like people in Mexico use tortillas.  However, it looks nothing like either of these.  It is thicker and a bit spongy like crepes but huge–more than a foot in diameter.  The man in the photo below is sowing teff.

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Teff fields stretch almost as far as the eye can see.

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Villages are frequently set along side the good highways.

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Major highways are excellent.  The only really bad road we traversed was in Simien Mountains National Park where they keep the road that way on purpose. Well, that and the streets in Addis.

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As we came closer to the Nile Gorge, it became more mountainous again.

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First sight of the Nile Gorge.

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All major bridges seem to have a resident guard.  Unlike the guard at the bridge in Bahir Dar, this guy told us we could walk around and take photos.

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If there is a guard, he has to have a guard house.

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And a house.

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Even though by this time I had not only floated down the Nile but also crossed it in a boat a couple of times, I remained entranced.  We walked across the old bridge built in 1948.  Actual traffic now crosses the new bridge built by the Japanese.

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Personally, I did not see anything wrong with this old bridge and wondered why they thought they needed a new one.

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A couple of signs written in several of the languages spoken in Ethiopia commemorate the old bridge.

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As we climbed out of the gorge, we saw common baboons begging.  They are neither as pretty nor as friendly as gelada baboons.

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I could not resist taking a variety of photos looking back down into the Nile Gorge.

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Dino could not resist stopping for one long, last look at the Nile.

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When we asked the name of this waterfall, we were told that it was just an ordinary waterfall and had no name.

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The final switchback before we became immersed in the clouds.

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My Ethiopian Adventure–Gelada Baboons


The last of the grass eating primates–all others are now extinct–gelada baboons are found only in Ethiopia above 1800 meters. The first I saw ran up and down the cliffs at Menelik’s Window.  Because the people in this area use large tufts of grass to make house roofs, boys patrol the area, attempting to keep the baboons from eating this particular type of grass. IMG_0262 Perhaps because of their experience being chased persistently by humans, these baboons were hard to photograph up close because they ran off. The boys who guard the grass pass time by making hats and other items out of the grass the baboons want. IMG_0264 If you look closely at the following photo, you can see a couple of baboons running up the slope. IMG_0266 Although you can see gelada baboons in several places in the high mountains of central Ethiopia, their major sanctuary is Simien Mountains National Park.  Here they are protected from hunting. IMG_0578 Unlike those at Menelik’s Window, these did not run off especially if one walked along quietly or stopped to watch.  Unlike other species of baboons, these are not aggressive.  The males may appear to be boss because of their big manes, red-hearted chests, and size, but such is not the case.  In the world of gelada baboons, females rule.  Females even choose the one male that shares up to six or so females.  The male may try to fight off contenders, but in the end the females choose. IMG_0586   IMG_0588 Because I found many of the 2000 feet cliff drop-offs a bit daunting, on the hike I chose to go higher with the guide.  A fortuitous choice for sure.  We found ourselves surrounded by a huge troop of peacefully grazing baboons complete with babies playing in the trees. IMG_0592 Gelada baboons spend their days sitting on their fat humanlike buttocks eating grass.  Except for humans they are the most terrestrial of all the primates. They climb down the steep cliffs at night to sleep in tight groups.  This helps them escape predators, e.g. leopards and hyenas. Probably their safest habitat is Simien Mountains National Park because to enter the park every visitor has to sign in.  Everywhere you go, an assigned guard with an assault rifle accompanies you. IMG_0573 Because of the rainy weather, he slung his assault rifle over one shoulder and held his umbrella in the opposite hand. We did not see any more gelada baboons until several days later on the last day of our road trip when we stopped to visit a sort of inn/hotel owned by a German woman. IMG_1052 Experts estimate only one to two hundred thousand remain.  Habitat loss and hunting males for their manes threaten their survival. They are listed as a threatened species.

My Ethiopian Adventure: On the Road from Bahir Dar to Debre Markos


After coffee and a walk around the grounds at Kuriftu Resort and Spa on Lake Tana–see last photos of previous post, we headed south.  This was not the kind of trip where I could stop whenever I wanted to take photos so many of the photos you see on these Ethiopian posts were taken from a moving car. IMG_0897 A typical house along the roadside.  Eucalyptus may be invasive; nevertheless, its uses here seem endless–the house, the fence. IMG_0899 A new housing development along the road all framed in eucalyptus.  In fact, nearly everything is made from eucalyptus except the metal roofs and the final coats of mud on the outside.  I wondered about the advisability of the modern use of metal.  Since no one heats or air conditions, metal can be both hot and cold whereas the traditional roofs act as insulation.  Of course, they take a lot more work for upkeep. The land immediately south of Bahir Dar is flat.  Farmers grow eucalyptus commercially.  They use irrigation canals and grow onions and tomatoes as well as other vegetables. IMG_0900 If you want to drive in Ethiopia, you must learn to dodge people and animals because the highways remain the primary transportation routes for everything, not just modern vehicles. IMG_0904 Although the houses may be mostly mud plastered with dirt floors, nearly everyone has electricity. IMG_0913 So many rivers nearly overflowing during the rainy season, it is hard to keep track of which one is which.  Even the official map does not contain all the rivers we crossed.  This one is often referred to as the Little Nile (Lesser Abay).  Some even claim it is the real beginning of the Nile (Abay) because this river feeds into Lake Tana from which the Blue Nile flows. However, the Lesser Abay is not the only water input into Lake Tana. IMG_0916 Few overweight people can be found in Ethiopia.  Why?  They walk; they carry heavy loads. IMG_0920 Bridge over the Little Nile. IMG_0924 For most of the day we drove through heavy rain.  This huge rock suddenly appeared, sticking up among the grass and fields.  Except for  water everywhere, it reminded me of things one sees in the western United States. IMG_0927 When I tell people that I have never seen so much green and rain or experienced so much cold in a three week period in my life, they seem amazed this occurred in Ethiopia. IMG_0929 We stopped at this lovely lake, not only because it is beautiful but also because Colobus monkeys live here.  I tried to photograph them and gave up; they fly through the trees with incredible rapidity. IMG_0930 Lake Zegena between Injibarra and Bure at 2529 meters altitude.  Here it even rains during the dry season. IMG_0933 The incredible number of plants and mosses growing on the trees made me think of Costa Rica where as many as 150 different species of plants can grow on one tree. IMG_0936 Dino and Alemu appeared very excited to see this for sale.  Yes, it is edible–tiringo.  They cut up slices and ate them with big smiles on their faces.  I tried it; too sour for me.  The flesh is somewhat like an apple but tastes more like lemons.  However, I am not a fan of citrus fruit–these are a type of citrus–so was not surprised to find I could do without this one. IMG_0938 In this area charcoal is made and sold commercially everywhere along the road. IMG_0940 We stopped to buy a bag of limes from these girls. IMG_0942 Most of the day we drove through lush agricultural country. IMG_0944   IMG_0949   IMG_0950 IMG_0953 We arrived in Debre Markos in the perpetual rain.  Although the hotel where we stayed was only two months old, not everything functioned. I had to change rooms and even then, the bathroom door would not shut and a tile was missing just above the door.  By this time, I had come to the conclusion that the really old things in Ethiopia, not unlike elsewhere in the world, were better made than new construction.  The 1000 year old churches in Lalibela still function perfectly.  This hotel definitely will not last 1000 years. Like everywhere in Ethiopia, no heat existed anywhere in the hotel.  Aesthetically, the hotel received a very good score.  Beautiful linens, lovely decor (everything had been painted by Dino’s sister’s company with the exquisite paint she imports from Italy), a well stocked bar.  I hung out in the bar a while with Dino drinking sambuca romana trying to get warm.  It failed to work.  Sleep seemed impossible–too cold.  Finally, after lying in bed cold for over an hour, I arose, put on two pairs of socks and tried again.  Finally warm enough to sleep. IMG_0956   The view out my hotel room in Debre Markos demonstrates a typical Ethiopian city view–the contrast between the new and luxurious and the elemental.

My Ethiopian Adventure: the Monasteries of Lake Tana


Of the 37 islands on Lake Tana, 20 shelter churches and monasteries, very old monasteries, many of which remain in use today.  While some are closed totally to women, we visited Ura Kidane Mihret with no problem.  It is part of a larger complex, the Convent of Mercy founded in the 14th century.  Various buildings date from that era to more recent times.  To reach the monastery you have to climb in a boat and ride across Lake Tana to the Zege Penisula.  We boarded our small boat at the far end of this garden at the hotel–there were four of us and the helmsman–and headed across the lake. IMG_0809 On the way we passed a number of fishermen paddling their papyrus boats. IMG_0817 We also sailed past a couple of islands like this one where one monk lives alone.  On another island lives a priest.  Women are not allowed except on one, just at the edge near the dock.  We did not go there. IMG_0818 Once you arrive at the dock you hike up a hill past various vendors selling everything from religious paintings to hand woven scarves. IMG_0820 This young man used all natural materials to paint small replicas of the paintings found in the monastery itself.  In retrospect I wish I had purchased at least one; I never saw anything quite like them again. Like most religious buildings in Ethiopia, all the buildings in this complex are round.  The only place in Ethiopia where I saw rectangular churches was in Lalibela. IMG_0821 Every piece of space on the interior walls is painted with religious scenes from the Bible and Ethiopian religious history.  The current paintings date from 100-250 years ago when, as the paint began to deteriorate, they used a special process to repaint them.   This particular monastery is noted for these incredible paintings. IMG_0822 IMG_0824 IMG_0826 IMG_0827 The tops of all the buildings are adorned with different symbols for peace.  Sometimes they also represent the disciples of Jesus as well or other religious symbolism. IMG_0829   IMG_0830 A new visitor center remains under construction; it seemed nearly complete. IMG_0831 The visitor center is the rock building on the left, the monastery the building in the rear. IMG_0832 On the path back to the boat dock vendors sell scarves and jewelry.  I bought several scarves, one of which was totally different from any I saw anywhere else.  If I had only known just how unique it would be, I would have bought the other one–she had only two.  These scarves are hand loomed and in some cases the yarn is also hand spun. IMG_0833 Finally, back near the dock we stopped for coffee, indulging ourselves in the totally Ethiopian experience of their coffee ceremony.  You have not truly sipped coffee until you participate in one of these.  There is nothing anywhere quite like it. IMG_0836

My Ethiopian Adventure: Lake Tana, Where the Nile Begins–Part Two


As the sun set and the moon rose, Lake Tana glittered.

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The hotel, known for its gardens, provided lighted pathways for evening walking.  The next morning as we sat on the patio for breakfast, company arrived.

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We crumbled toast to see what would occur.  These weavers loved the treat.  A hotel employee, viewing them as pests, ran out and drove them into a nearby tree.

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Fisherman still use the same papyrus boats used during the time of the pharaohs. The pelicans at Lake Tana display snow white plumage.

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These fisherman customarily row two hours out into the lake to fish and when finished, two hours back.  Yes, I said row, no motors. Talapia is the primary catch.  After boarding at the hotel dock, we made our way across a tiny portion of the lake in a relatively small boat powered with a motor.

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Lake Tana is huge.  The ferry that crosses from Bahir Dar to Gorgora takes ten hours.  When we boarded the motor boat, it never occurred to me that we would actually go to the place where the Blue Nile begins, but suddenly here we were.  Just thinking about it as I write this makes me shiver.  I am here again, where the river of all rivers, the Nile, actually begins.

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And suddenly we are on the Nile, no longer in Lake Tana.

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The light colored objects along the river bank are papyrus boats.

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The tall plants in the background are papyrus.  In Addis I saw them used as ornamental plants in the gardens of the Sheraton.  Here they grow wild along the Nile exactly as they have for millennia.

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Just past this point, we rounded a slight bend in the coastline.  A naked man bathing in the water quickly scrambled up the bank and pulled on a pair of pants.

We zoomed here and there so rapidly that at times I remained uncertain as to whether I was in Lake Tana or the Nile.  No matter, it was warm, the company was stellar,  my body smiled.  What could possibly be better than this!!!

My Ethiopian Adventure: Lake Tana, Where the Nile Begins–Part One


From Gonder to get to Lake Tana, you must retrace your route to go to Bahir Dar, the largest city on the lake.  The road around the west side of the lake is not a major highway so we traveled back past the Finger of God, past my favorite castle, through the valley with miles of rice, through Addis Zemen.  Altitude declines the closer you drive to Bahir Dar.  Although Simien Mountain National Park remains one of the most scenic places I have ever visited and Gonder is a city filled with unique history and beauty, I felt happier and happier as it became warmer, more tropical.  In keeping with the previous week, the emerald landscape continued.

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Here cattle grazed in the seemingly endless pastures.  As usual, livestock walked along the road.  The species of livestock varied with altitude and locale.

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When you drive through towns and even larger cities, expect to dodge people and animals.  Even in Addis, we saw goats.

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These intensely yellow flowers in the foreground grew everywhere.  No one seemed to know their name.

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Dino wanted to buy the hat so we stopped to talk to this boy herding his animals along the roadside.  He told Dino he spent two days making it.  The hat along with baskets and other items bought on the trip took one and one half months to arrive in the US after being shipped from Ethiopia.

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In this area, these same yellow flowers appeared everywhere and in some places so close together as to make a fence.  Upon detailed inspection, I concluded they are some type of thistle. Later, we learned they are poisonous to the touch and cause massive swelling.  And to think I seriously concerned touching them. Finally, we arrived at Bahir Dar and drove onto this street.

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We reached a promontory overlooking the Nile.  The Nile!!!  All my life I have heard of the Nile.

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Here below me, flowing out of Lake Tana, the source of civilizations thousands of years old, the Nile begins its long journey to the Mediterranean  Sea.  We drove further down a dirt road to this overlook.

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Unlike the previous point, no one was here except two youngsters and us.  We watched cattle graze along the Nile, a couple walk on a pathway along the river, and a hippo cross from the near bank to the larger island, but too far away to capture with my iPAD.  Even now I can feel the emotion, an overwhelming, indescribable sense of amazement–the Nile, river of rivers, laying there below me.

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I stood spell bound for a long time, watching, feeling, thinking:  I cannot believe this, I am looking at the Nile.  Later, on the way to the hotel, we crossed a bridge over the river where hippos lounged.  We stopped, hoping to take photos, but the river guard said no.  We could look but no photos–he explained it is a strategic bridge.  We checked into our hotel on the shores of Lake Tana.

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Still, now, writing this, I feel the magic, the mystery.