Taking our leave of the SDA misssion in Debre Tabor
19/11/08: Just before we leave, Megan tells me that there is internet access in Debre Tabor and takes me to the Pastor Adissu's office, where it really is working! I'm nervous and excited and dash off an update to my family and friends, the first email I've been able to send from Ethiopia!
My visit is over and we have to leave, aiming to be out of the mountains before nightfall. I'm quite choked up as Dr. Arvid says goodbye to us and tells me to be good. He's a joker, but then for a moment has regrets, thinking I might take offense. He doesn't mean anything by that of course, and I assure him I won't make promises I can't keep.
We nearly forget to leave behind the clothes I brought from Canada. We had stopped at a house in town to get some honey for Fehim when we remember. Kassahun phones Dr. Arvid at the mission and somebody comes to fetch the clothes.
The drive back to Bahar Dar is just as spectacular in reverse.
Again the descent is a little nerve wracking, warning signs of construction ahead, minimal. I mean really, one man working?? I don't think that is what is intended, but I love the different versions of English one finds around the world. There's a whole book in that subject, I'm sure. English is not as "universal" as one might hope.
(click on the photo above to get a better look at the sign!)
It feels rather like the wild, wild west. Men carrying weapons are quite commonplace.
The strange ambas we saw on the way to Debre Tabor, are now bathed in the last rays of the dying sun. The top of this one, covered like icing in bird droppings, has a name that translates to "eagle mountain".
The dust is almost unbearable, and we spend a lot of time cranking the windows up and down as we pass other vehicles, or the wind stirs it up.
The gun culture again (evident in the photo below, barely visible in front of the white truck); we come upon a small transport truck and up upon the load, two men with guns, semi-automatic weapons.
Down in the valley of the Reb Riber, rice is cultivated.
We arrive back in Bahar Dar at sunset. I'm tired and grimy with dust, but it's nothing that a shower can't fix. Then, I have a beer by the pool of our hotel. Sheer luxury. Later, Kassahun and I meet Fehim and his friend at a quaint little restaurant in town. The food is good and we eat outside in an intimate and rather romantic outdoor patio.
20/11/08: I sleep poorly. The next morning, we are to leave early. It's a long drive back to Addis. But first, I want to photograph a little of Bahar Dar:
The Blue Nile, viewed from a bridge just outside town, about 1 km south from where it exits Lake Tana.
The lovely avenues of Bahar Dar, lined with palms.
The aforementioned "Obama Cafe". Somebody has a sense of humour, doctoring a photo of a traditionally dressed woman to carry a hamburger instead of a basket and to carry a can of pop. (I will see another Obama Cafe in Addis on Churchill Avenue.)
We breakfast at this fruit juice bar and I try the avacado juice drink Fehim suggests, thinking it would at least be very nourishing and filling. It is delicious, sweetened just a touch with something and after a shot of fresh lime juice over it, it is very refreshing. But not drinkable -- it must be eaten with a spoon, like a soft icecream! I also nabbed a bit of Fehim's egg sandwich. A large macchiato is becoming an addiction!
Fehim asks me if I felt my mission was a success. Yes, Debre Tabor was more than I had hoped for. Now, only the race and a visit to an Ethiopia Reads library are left!
Across the street, the clinic is still closed, but small boys busy selling things to passersby, take a break to play with a stray puppy.
Fehim and Kassahun joke, tell stories and argue about politics all the way back to Addis. I'm starting to pick up more and more of the conversation, my meager Amharic stretching its infant muscles!
We stop in a village along the way so that I can buy an agelgil . It is the local version of a lunch box, a goat-skin clad basket with a lid that is fastened down with leather straps. It also has a loop of leather for carrying it. A small boy who knows he is unbearably cute, begs for treats, for money, for "highland". Highland is one brand of bottled water and also refers to the empty bottles as well. When the little boy, so much more audacious than his older sisters, snags himself a coveted bottle, he couldn't be more pleased with himself!
Children in Ethiopia often have their head shaved to get rid of lice. A top knot is left so that should God decide to call them, "God should have a handle with which to lift them unto Heaven."
We had picked up another traveler in a pretty suburb of Bahar Dar. She is on her way to see her son in Addis before he leaves for the U.S. He has apparently won the lottery for the ?DV, ie residency.
We stop again at the Shebel Hotel in Debre Markos for lunch. (Notice, we are using just the right hand for eating, never the left!)
Kassahun clowning around while I try to show you how the pop bottles' labels look written in the Amharic fidel.
Women are truly beasts of burden in Africa! If not carrying loads of wood or sacks of grain, they have children on their backs. The beautiful leather carrying pouch on the woman in the foreground is actually very practical. Strollers or baby carriages do not make much sense in Ethiopia's rough terrain. The clattering beads on the ends of the fringes are a lulling accompaniment that helps the child on her back go to sleep.