08 January 2010

11. - 8 JAN: Gondar to Bahir Dar

Start of the day at the Fasil Gebbi, or Gondar enclusure. A large and majestic complex of palaces, a castle and once luscious gardens now in disrepair. A few birds hop around on top of the castle's merlons.The large empty halls of the castle are highly evocative of times past, especially the XVII century, when Emperor Fasilides projected his great powers from this site. We then go to the Debre Birhan Selassie Church, well known for its exquisite wall paintings.

A little stroll in town precedes a light lunch at a roadside cafe. The Italian 1930s architecture is still apparent downtow, for example in the post office building, among others. Lots of people walking around the busy main street, quite a few cars and swarms of motor rickshaws, "Ape" copied from the Piaggio models so successful throughout Asia.

At one point we walk by the local courthouse and notice some older men sitting outside in the shade with what look like poor people around them. Our guide explains that these are retired lawyers who provide free legal advice to poor people who could not otherwise afford it. Nice touch...

As we prepare to leave town we stop at the Fasilides baths, where the Ethiopians celebrate their Epyhany, or Timkat. There is no ceremony today, we are a few days too early, but quite a few people are busy at work preparing for next week.

We stop at a farm along the way, try to have a chat with the farmer and at one point the wife goes out of her way to show us her jewels, golden bracelets and ear rings of which she is clearly very proud.

We reach Bahir Dar just after a spectacularly red hot sunset has gifted us the last photo ops of a very colorful day.

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