01 January 2010

4. - 1 January 2010: Dessie to Lalibela

Early start up the mountain on our way to Beta Estifanos monastery. On the way we stop at a few stunning view points. Some wrecks of tanks from the recent civil wars litter the side of the road.Some ladies in colorful clothes climb up the slope going somewhere, could not be a starker contrast with the massive rusty hulk pointing its gun barrel to the sky.


Beta Estifanos is a serene place, a few monks, some praying in the garden with their huge rosaries in hand, some tending animals in the back. Some just doing nothing here and there.

We move on to Woldia the following town, where a massive open market is in full swing. Food, cloth, camels, you pay for it and it's yours. I end up buying some huge scarf, it's so big it looks like a blanket, but maybe here there is no difference between the two. Lots of ladies with their heads tightly covered, many young girls with brightly colored head scarves. A lively atmosphere but all is in good order, it is dirty and messy but in its own functional way.

We move on to the town of Woldia and stop for a break. Wandering around the houses gives me a positive reaction. People are busy building, trading, cleaning. There seems to be a general activism, desire to get stuff done. One family raises chickens it is courtyard, but it's all nicely done, with the feed neatly laid out on a white sheet in the middle of the yars. Even the chicken seem to be aware of good manners and approach their lunch in an orderly line. Adolescents all over the place, I am not sure whether they are here because of the holidays, they should be in school, but they are all well dressed and groomed, don't look at all like drop-outs, or at least like what I imagine an African drop-out to look like. One man in busy nailing a wooden frame to the mud and straw walls of his home, while his wife is hanging the laundry to dry in the street.

Moving on toward Lalibela we can see lots of barley fields, and people busy tending to their harvest, it all gives the impression of a fairly dynamic economy. As we gain altitude, fog envelops the slopes of the mountains, creating a surreal, almost otherwordly atmosphere. And it gets definitely colder. More tukuls and more ambas, the story does not change much for the rest of the day, but the different shades of blue layers that compose the lanscape provide for excellent photo ops.

By evening time we are at Lalibela and are ready for a nice meal at our hotel. I am somewhat disappointed that the waiter, not without a clear display of pride, proposes the chef's lasagna for the evening. Geee. I ask him whether it might be possible to have something Ethiopian, and he says there is some lamb if I so desire, but most of my travel mates seem happy to get a taste of home and go for the lasagna. (I later tasted it and, of course, it was a far cry from a real lasagna, but that is just me being difficult.)

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