03 January 2010

6. - 3 JAN: Lalibela to Mek'ele

Yet again up before dawn, this has become a habit in this trip. For one, early morning is the best light for photography and is this group we are all photographers. Also, distances are quite long every day, and this being Africa it is always wise to allow plenty of spare time.

As we leave Lalibela in the direction of Sekota we cross path with a steady stream of pilgrims heading to the holy town. We drive, they walk. Long lines of people stretch out for kilometers. They walk at a pretty brisk clip, though we slow them down as they inevitably become curious about us and our cameras.

Along the way we stop at several villages, this is the Wollo ethnic group. Tukuls everywhere, and many very very young mothers with children on their shoulders. Lots of poor people, but they don't look either destitute or desperate.

We stop around noon at a roadside eatery near Maychew. I decide to join the drivers and the guide for a local injera meal, very appropriately accompanied by local beer and the ever present Coca Cola. I persist in eating even after I get to see the kitchen on my way to the toilet... and it is tasty food indeed, and healthy, I won't have any problem in all of this trip. Just a few steps from the restaurant a small creeks cuts across town, and to cross it I use an Italian bridge from the 1930s, still there, with a big fascio sculpted in the middle, and still the only bridge in town!

In the afternoon se continue our drive northward, and stop a few times to take pictures of enormous baobabs. Many more small villages on the way, we decide to stop a few times especially as the sun is about to set as this is the best light for photography. Simple village life, old men chatting by the roadside, youngsters gathering wood, kids playing in the street. Again, poor but with many signs of activity and progress in the making.

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