Time to reflect on this journey within life's overall journey.
What will I remember?
Was it the scenery? Or the historical sites with some dating back to BC? Or the people? Answer the people by far.
My memories will be:
The children coming out of the bushes to use that term, every time the vehicle stopped .... even if it was in a remote part of the road for a bush toilet stop.
The waves mainly by the little children as we sped along passing them. Yes, I developed a backwards Queen wave so that they could see movement from inside the vehicle.
The constant steam of people walking along both side of the road even when we were in the mountains with few villages or huts around.
The importance of water and those plastic yellow water containers being carried on mainly the females or children backs or transported by donkey.
The collection of yellow water containers by a hand pump well or hole dug in the nearly dry river bed.
The donkeys, goats, sheep, camels, cattle being herded or tended by the men or children.
The terrace fields in a rather rocky landscape - hence literally no machinery was seen.
Mursi tribe late afternoon visit without cameras.
The Konso tribe because of the lighting, setting and their colourful body art.
Bull jumping ceremony and the need to accept it is their tradition the whipping of the females by the males.
The hyena man and the image of him with his arms around one of the wild hyena.
Yes, certainly Lalibela and their 11 below ground rock churches. The brochures generally only show the top view of St George church and perhaps a priest holding one of the holy treasures.
Then there were the churches / monasteries where we were the only persons.
The religious festivals that we were either a day or a couple of weeks too early for but at least got a taste what it would be like (feast of Saint Gabriel at Kulubi Gabriel and Tinket).
Not climbing the Maryam QorQor / Debre Maryam Koirkor Monastery because of the late lunch Christmas Day.
Not having a smaller 4x4 for north as the 22 seater Coaster really limited us in the Simien Mountains.
SPECTACULAR UNEXPECTED SCENERY
Several times I was taken back by the scenery that revealed itself. While I have been spoilt to have seen some magnificent mountain scenery like in the Himalayas, Rockies, Europe Alps and Patagonia, Ethiopia's scenery at times wasn't that bad in its own way.
Reaching our overnight Dorze campsite 2,900 metres high up in the green Guge hills high on the Rift Valley above the two lakes Abaya and Chamo far below and also looking down on the chequered pattern of fields below.
The stillness, quietness and absolute lack of noise at several places: high up in the Semien Mountains, Lalibela and the Ben Abeba restaurant setting.
Sunset as we walked from the Dorze village.
After the 90 minute drive across the flat barren like desert la facade to reach the Konso village and getting out of the 4 x 4 to look below us the wide sweeping Omo River with the green vegetation on either side of the river. I had expected a shallow muddy meandering river.
The very much upmarket Italian luxury Gheralta Lodge in Hawzien.
It is not for me to overthink this but with the introduction of an international airport at Jinka and the inevitable influx of tourists into the South Omo Valley, how will this change this part of the country?
Finally there are 2 situations that will always stay with me ....
The Konso chief who had to return to his tribe to lead them and his efforts to retain their culture and traditions. His only concession to the modern world was a cell phone to call a tuktuk or bajaj to save him walking hours to the different villages.
The Amhara couple with young baby whom we visited on route to Lalibela, who returned to the village after meeting in Addis where they had spent several years trying to make their fortune ie employment. What will the world and opportunities be for their family as they grow up, get basic education in their village? Will they decide to stay in the village and tend the fields or go back to the bigger city to live?
FINALLY my sincere THANKS to:
- my fellow travellers who endured the thousands of kilometres with me.
- all the local and tour guides for sharing with me your insights and passion of an "Enchanting Ethiopia".
- the 4 drivers who safely carted me some 5,373 kms / 3,338 miles kilometres around both your excellent just being built Chinese and not so good corrugated unpaved roads.
Perhaps one day I will be fortunate enough to return to dig a bit deeper into your ever so fast changing enchanting country.
My Ethiopia Memories, Reflections & Challenges
Monday, January 12, 2015
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand