Just a taster.
18.01.2007 - 20.01.2007 30 °C
With a slight sense of remorse we left Aksum on the ever reliable 6am bus, fearing a return to the trials of the everyday ethiopian experience. Expecting a full day on the road we settled in for another bum numbing ride. So we were wrapped to arrive mid-afternoon giving us a chance to explore the city. We checked into a 40 birr hotel and set off to explore Mekele. Two things were prodominantly on our minds, the cheapest internet in Ethiopia and a refreshing juice. We soon determined that the cheapest internet was also the most unreliable and dropped that idea like a stone. Desperate for a 50% success rate we headed in search of some juice. Not hard to find considering every second shop was a juice bar, once we had started down the culinary trail there was no turning back.
The food in Ethiopia consists of meat, injera and not much else. Until this point I had been very happy as I generally like my meals to be meat heavy but day in day out it can become tiresome and I was ready for a change. Di had looked up a pizza place in the L.P. which looked like just the ticket so we chowed down on some good old western food. It was so good that I knew my local food intake was to be permanantly reduced.
The next morning we resumed the hunt for internet and were again defeated. The problem being that the only ISP in Ethiopia is the government so when that goes down the shows over, all over. With another defeat on our backs we decided to visit the town's museum. We weren't expecting much and at first, that's all we got. Everything closes from 12-2 in Ethiopia and we arrived at about 12:15. So we settled down under the shade of a nearby tree and passed the time. When the museum reopened the curator came to meet us at the gates. We had him and the museum to ourselves. The museum was actually an old castle of the royal family and as such it housed mostly royal possesions. It was actually quite a rewarding attraction. To put the icing on the cake, half way through I got a call from my parents, reconnecting me with home.
With little more to do in town we expected another kick backed afternoon. On our way back to our hotel we saw another internet establishment, with not much else on we thought we might aswell give it one more try and we hit the jackpot. So I passed the rest of the day, bum firmly in chair, catching up on emails and this blog. Not far into my epic internet session a very loud and colourful parade hit the street outside and it continued for much of the afternoon, thousands of people singing and dancing, marching bands and just general cheerfulness. Then we remembered, it was Timkat. The 19th of January is a massive Ethiopian Orthodox Catholic celebration day. So we enjoyed the parades and captured a few frames and photos to remember it.
Happy to have had a surprisingly interesting day we walked briskly home to our jumpers. On arrival Di realised she didn't have her wallet on her, so we walked even faster back to the internet cafe, no surprises, it was gone. The good news was now that neither of us had a wallet we couldn't lose them again. I ventured back to Ethiopian cuisine for dinner, it was cold and disgusting, reaffirming my renewed invigour for faranji food.
Early the next morning we caught a mini-van to the nearby town of Wukro. Our launching point to the rock-hewn churches of Tigray. We were forgetting the day after Timkat is a public holiday so facilities were limited. None the less we hired a van to take us around for 400 birr. The first church we visited was not known for its architecture but rather its dazzlind position, carved into a rock face separated by several hundred metres from the ground below. Even the route up was a little hairy, a grade 5 for those who know australian climbing grades. It was truly scenic and well worth the hike, the church itself was tiny and cost 50 birr each for entry so we decended without ever going in. The second and last church was supposedly the most impressive and I could see why. The whole thing was hewn out of one rock and the roof was carved carefully with intricate patterns. Not wanting to over do the churches before we got to Lalibela we went back to town. The buses had stopped running because of the public holiday but we luckily found a ride in a car. The route to Lalibela was long so we filled up on pizza and ice cream and went to bed early.