Last 64 Km

Saturday, January 03, 2015
Lalibela, Amhara, Ethiopia
It was scenic through at times the seriously mountainous terrain.

The last 64 km from Gashena through to Lalibela is still being reconstructed so was both dusty and very much slow going.

Ermias, our G Adventures CEO for this northern trip, stopped at an Amhara village and dropped off some laminated photos taken by a member of his last group who visited here. The expressions of sheer delight on the faces of the locals prompted me to do the same.

Allowed into several of their one room huts that housed both the whole extended family, their animals, and either in the centre or at one side was the fire pit and bunk beds but Ethiopian style.

We met a young couple with young baby who had returned to the village after meeting in Addis where they had spent several years trying to make their fortune ie employment. Besides looking after the animals, he had a hive for honey, a transistor radio in his hut and a light bulb for some evening light. This short visit will be no doubt be one of my trip's memory.

About 90% of the Amhara are rural and make their living through farming, mostly in the Ethiopian highlands. Prior to the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution, absentee landlords maintained strict control over their sharecropping tenants, often allowing them to accumulate crippling debt. After 1974, the landlords were replaced by local government officials, who play a similar role.

 Barley, corn, millet, wheat, sorghum, and teff, along with beans, peppers, chickpeas, and other vegetables, are the most important crops. In the highlands one crop per year is normal, while in the lowlands two are possible. Cattle, sheep, and goats are also raised.

The Amhara people's cuisine and that of Ethiopian cuisine in general consists of various vegetable or meat side dishes and entrées, usually a wat, or thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread made of teff flour. Kitfo being originated from Gurage is one of the widely accepted and favorite food in Amhara and all over Ethiopia.

Tihlo prepared from roasted barley flour is very popular in Amhara, Agame, and Awlaelo (Tigrai). Traditional Ethiopian cuisine employs no pork or shellfish of any kind, as they are forbidden in the Islamic, Jewish, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faiths. It is also very common to eat from the same dish in the center of the table with a group of people. Thanks Mr Wikipedia.

Once we hit the road from the airport, it was tarseal for the remaining 20 kms into Lalibela. The end of a long travel day.

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