09 January 2010

12. - 9 JAN: Bahir Dar, Lake Tana

Early in the morning the sun paints a silver lining on the many canals and rivulets that draw thin lines across the fields. There is a lot of water in this region, something we are not accustomed to. The Nile is near, though it is now the dry season and there is not much water rushing forward to Sudan.

We drive a while and then take a boat across the river, then walk some more in the fields to reach the Tississat, "the smoking water", ie the Nile falling down a cliff and creating a waterfall, more like a tricklefall in this season, but perhaps prettier for that.

At the waterfall I buy some tea from a young girl who squats by a small wooden plank that is her table, a teapot on a small tin full of hot charcoal and a few glasses. Oh and some sugar. The tea is good. A we approach the waterfall we descend the slope of a hill toward the river and a young shepherd in a candid white blanket over dark shorts poses proudly against the "smoking" background of the falls.

At one point a line of perhaps twenty people walks past us in the distance. Most have huge bags of something, perhaps cotton, on their heads.

No one is around but us until a few lady farmers carrying huge sacs of dung walk by on their way to their farm. It's pretty impressive, the sack are way bigger than their own bodies and probably weigh at least twice as much!

Around lunch time I take a walk in the center of town and stop at a shop that sells hide puffs filled with straw. They are actually quite pretty and sturdy, but heavy. So after negotiating a good price for two puffs I ask the lady to cut them open and take out the grass. Which she has one of her assistants do, but it's hard, they have been sewn pretty well and it takes a good half an hour. Time to walk around, chat with some of the sellers, soak in the early afternoon heat.

After a quick lunch we hit the road again, this time to the shore of Lake Tana, where we board a fast outboard to reach the island in the middle of the lake with its interesting monastery.

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