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Aethiopia

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With the echoes of the Muezzins still in our ears we are greeted by the drums and chants of the orthodox church.
 

our route trough Aethiopia / Our Tour on Google Earth make a clicke here ...

 

 
On the 5th of May we travel into Ethiopia without a hitch.  The border patrollers are in a great mood and we amuse ourselves by playing music and Katt (a mild stimulant from a shrub). We are immediately taken in by the mountains of Ethiopia and soon find ourselves at 2000 meters above sea level.  Our first goal is The city of Gonder where we tour Gemp

– the 70,000 square meter fortress with a castle of King Fasiladas. It is all very mystical with a hushed tone and the sound of Monks chanting from the surrounding churches.  After Gondor we climb to 3,000 meters above sea level and cross amongst others the Wolkefit pass. Herein lies the Rash Daschen, which is the highest elevation in Ethiopia at 4,620 m.  The domestic beer of the country is named after this mountain.  Every now and then we pass the remains of rusting tanks and other military vehicles left over from the times of disputes between the Italians and English or perhaps the Ethiopians and Eritreans.  On Palm Sunday we arrive in Axum, the Rome of the Orthodox Church. Many pilgrims are here and we experience the city filled with a

 

wonderful atmosphere. The songs of the Monks and the mentality of the people are still new for us.  Since north Ethiopia is densely populated we constantly meet people that are very interested in us. A white face is usually associated with the gift of a pen or some similar trinket.  In a space of 1,130,138 km2 there are approximately 49,947,400 inhabitants.  These people are supported by the world hunger relief effort.  The war with Eritrea has left its mark.  The men very proudly bear there kalaschnikovs in the field and at the market. The greatest need, which is food, has certainly been softened, but here there is nothing in excess. Especially not the water.  Here in the north the land dries up after the rainy season.   Despite all hardships though the people are quite friendly.  In between the land is so green that the thought never occurs to us that people could be starving here.  Then we cross strips of land where we ask ourselves what do the cows eat - stones?  And what do the people live off of.  At 2600 meters a green oasis - Lake Ashangi surrounded by Mountains.  We drive south again and arrive in Lalibela, the most outstanding of the churches in the cliffs, on Good Friday. 

The atmosphere is impressive here at Easter time and we are immediately caught up by the excitement.  There are approximately 14 cliff churches and chapels concentrated in this region.  There are priests and monks of the Orthodox Church everywhere.  Today on Good Friday there is a large population of people praying - a constant kneeling and standing with kisses to the ground.  We are not so impressed with the large number of beggars. Ethiopia has an immense number of children.  Unfortunately, they too mix in with the beggars. The ailing is awful - blind and crippled people who have been disfigured by leprosy.  During the holidays there are many pilgrims who give alms to the poor that depend upon these.  Even here we see the grain sacks from the world hunger relief effort with the symbols from USA or the European Union on them.  On Easter Saturday we drive in the direction of Lake Tana to a plateau well over 3000 meters.  There is a constant flow of people with their livestock moving in the opposite direction.  It is the time of fasting and everyone is trying to sell their chickens, goats, sheep, and cows. The herds impress us. The land becomes less appealing and with that the number of people dwindle also.  We are happy to spend the night on the property of the German Peace Corps in Debre Tabor.  Lake Tana has a length of 80 kilometers. This is where the Blue Nile has its origin.  In the sea there is a row of islands with cloisters that we are able to visit.

 

The next day we are impressed by the Nile falls where the water tumbles down from 60 meters high.  Lake Tana is a bird’s paradise.  In the immediate surroundings we see Osprey, vultures, cormorants, pelicans, etc., etc., etc.. On Wednesday the 18th we continue in the direction of Addis Abeba. We cross through the valley of the Nile again and look forward to the “New Flower”, as the capital is known. We don’t spend much time in Addis Abeba. We obtain our Visas for Kenya. For $50 US per person we are on our way. We drive through the Rift Valley to Lake Langano where we find a beautiful camping site directly by the water. Two days of relaxation are on the agenda and we enjoy the peacefulness. Our next goal is Arba Minch with

the Nationalpark Nechisar where we have heard accounts of the crocodiles and Hippopotamus. However, we are met by an unfortunate surprise. The bridge is out and we must cross the river.  The rainfalls of the past few days make a crossing impossible and we must wait. After two days we realize there will be more rainfalls and we go back to Shaschemene and opt for a comfortable road to Yavello.  The drive from Yavello to Konso becomes a bit problematic when

 

 

we discover that the rainfalls have disturbed the roads. So for a mere 20km it takes us 3 – 4 hours.  The closer we get to Lake Turkana the more sparsely the women are dressed. The women were previously covered by sarongs with one exposed shoulder, later we only meet barechested women with only a loincloth. They wear their wealth in the pearls and jewelry adorning their bodies.  The rain has softened the ground and the men are out plowing the fields with two

strong oxen.  It is hot and since it is the most practical the men wear nothing on their bodies. We are making good time towards Kenya and decide to spend on more night in Ethiopia.  On this day the police seizes us.  We are taken into custody and spend the night in the police compound.  The next morning we are asked all the whys and wheres.  We are then given many serious reminders and are sent on our way.  We gather further details at the police station at the border to Kenya.

NOTE: Traveling over the border to Kenya by Lake Turkana is not officially allowed.  To enter and exit the country one must travel through Moyale. 

 
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