Yoga Journal Pose of the Day

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

diary, part 4

The Abbay Gorge, landslides, and remnants of war

18/11/08: We drove nearly non-stop to Bahar Dar, stopping once at the Shebel Hotel in Debre Marcos to grab a bite to eat.
Kassahun was initially afraid that our cameras would be seized or worse if we photographed the bridge (I should say "bridges", as there are now two) across the Abbay Gorge. But we were told to go ahead and photograph the bridge if we wanted (see the post below). We even got out of the car to do it!
looking back east-ward across the Abbay Gorge and the bridges below
On the westward ascent out of the gorge, there was obvious evidence of landslides. The warning signs are clear enough, "approximately", and certainly tickled my funny bone. The depths of the gorge are unbelievable.

looking eastward, across the gorge again

Kassahun and Fehim defend themselves & blame Kajima, the Japanese construction company for the sign...I'm left pondering how it would be worded, say in Canada or the U.S. (I have a lot of fun with road-signs in Canada too, eg. "corn, turn left")

one more backwards look

Out of the gorge, the scenery flattened out to the rolling fields of the Ethiopian Highland's plateaux. Fields of barley, tef, corn. Grazing cattle. The fields lying fallow are quickly covered in a blanket of yellow flowers!

Fehim posing for Facebook?

little shepherd boys are given big responsibilities
sinister reminders of Ethiopia's troubled history, both the 1974 Revolution and the war with Eritrea having swept across much of Ethiopia's northern areas
Arriving in Bahar Dar after dark. I think we ate something, then I collapsed into bed, but I was unable to sleep. I was very tired, depressed and confused. I kept thinking "I have no idea why I am in Ethiopia. I have no idea why I want to go to Debre Tabor."
I had misunderstood Kassahun and thought he had said we would take it easy in the morning and leave about 11 am. (I obviously had no idea how long 70 km on Ethiopia's roads can be!)
I took my time, ran a 4 km out-and-back eastwards to the Nile, stretched luxuriously in a hour-long yoga session. Generally I felt better and more optimistic after some sleep, troubled as it was. I was nearly done my yoga practice when Kassahun was knocking on my door. Oops! Well, I still had to shower and dress, so we were rather late getting started.
We got a fruit drink in Bahar Dar, then were on our way.
I adore the palm-lined streets of Bahar Dar, the centre medians blooming with African tulip trees. Strange bird-sounds from the trees around our hotel fascinated me. (next trip I have to plan for more bird-watching!)
Bahar Dar is the capital of the Amhara region. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was the temporary capital of more than one emperor from time to time. Haile Selassie even contemplated it for his capital city in the 1960's.
It is also a booming tourist centre, the jump-off point for visits to the ancient, island monasteries of Lake Tana, the outlet of the Blue Nile. The impressive Blue Nile Falls are only 32 km south-east of the city.
However, we were on our way north, first, along a great paved road as far as Wereta on Lake Tana's east shore. There we would turn onto an (as of this writing) unpaved road that turns off the highway to go east, at first following the Reb River valley.
Kassahun was in constant contact by cell phone with Dr. Arvid. Arvid is the son of the missionary doctor and his wife who were in Debre Tabor at the same time as my parents. Their family stayed on after my family went back to Finland. I thought it was very fortuitous that Arvid was in Debre Tabor at this very moment, building a guest-house. Even second-hand, listening to Kassahun's end of the conversations, I felt Arvid was looking forward to our visit. I had no idea how much I was to appreciate the way he was able to confirm my childhood memories, memories that I had no idea if I could trust or not. After all, I was only 5 years old when we left Debre Tabor.
The badly rutted gravel road here is just a taste of what was to come. The road crosses a few fields of rice, then abruptly starts climbing. This road too was under construction, so it was very dusty and scary in many places! When it is completed, it will be wonderful to drive a paved road all the way. For now, however, it is dirty, jarring, exhausting, and even frightening at times.

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