Dread, tooth, ache, can’t do it, sorry, no, need to tell, Nick, Deveron taxi, Lufthansa, Frankfurt, I leave, dentist, wonderful dentist, thanks, thanks, Traude, my aunt, strike, no strike, embark, Egyptian coast, Nile, Jeddah, Addis, Nick, hug hug, Zeist, Mama’s kitchen, St George, ethiojazz, so good.
Addis – Dahir Bar
Somali market, coffee ceremony, airport, Bahir Dar, Salem B+B, Lake Tana, flaneurs, plenty of them, Tilapia, Tuk Tuk, coffee ceremony, chai, cool family, precarious shower.
Dahir Bar – Konzilla
5am, papaya juice, TukTuk, in the dark, boat, funeral, somebody’s papa, ticket, embark, us, and 50 others, cargo, island, chai, Dek Island, papyrus boats, pelican, sunset, Konzilla, hotel, 100 Birr, toilet?, bar, St George, injera, more St George.
Konzilla – Gondhar
6am, embark, Konzilla pier, papyrus boat cargo, woman with baby, on back, on breast, Essey Debhir, coffee, ceremony, Geldhi, boat broken, bus stop, bus, full, coffee, off we go, green land, against its reputation, Gondhar, Lammergeyer, Tilapia.
Fasil Gebhi Palace, Royal Enclosure, 4 Sisters, music, start-stop, TukTuk, Felasha village, Jewish people, airlifted, in 80ies, Dashen, brewery, rain, Fasils bath, church, don’t go in, if, you slept with your wife, if you have your period, if you have no shawl, Princess’ palace, honey in trees, met Beka, dance, eskesta, shoulder dance, great.
Gondhar – Sankara
Drive, Debark, pay, sign, off we go, Simien we are coming, Simien lodge, disembark, views, green, escarpment, gelada monkeys, so green, on along, up, along, Sankara, camp, tent, dinner, in kitchen hut.
Sankara – Deech
Breakfast, with a view, trek, getting high, along escarpment, river, jump, mud, Deech village, soon gone, in the way of national park, in the way of tourists, coffee in a hut, farmed for 100s of years, soon gone, in the way, UNESCO says, soon gone, in January, they say, for the rest of the way, up, and on, Deech camp, dinner in the camp kitchen, not ishy, in my mind, all in the way of tourism, not ecological, they say.
Deech – Cheneck
Breakfast, with a view, along, and up, to view point, along, and up, picture, down again, up, again, through forest, Mogwizz, the scout, takes my rucksack, boys sell en route, sorry, along, and up, air getting thin, thin, viewpoint, over to Chenneck, so many, of the tourist tribe, with all their bottles, what a mess, noises from the tents, throwing up, sex, laughter, complains, about the mess, ishy?
Breakfast, with no view, Beka, wants to go up, another peak, that’s the goal, why? Up, up, thinner air, along the road, near the road, little sense of remoteness, why? I stay with Mogwizz, and my geo glass, down again, Cheneck, messy, sorry, the tourist tribe, view point, eagle, lammergeyer, others, feasting on a carcass, see the Ibex, see the village of Lori, down below, needs to go, in the way, find the mule path, long to go, down, not allowed, against the rules, of the national park, beer in the camp, didn’t know there is beer, talk to Beka, we make up.
Cheneck – Debark
Off to Argin, the path, no tourists, the path, that connects, village with village, country with country, grain, barley, and wheat, hut, of the poorest, Melissa, makes coffee, dries her barley, 5 children, husband died, ceremony, a treat, hut, made of mud, grass roof, sud in the ceiling, smoke, straw cross, to bless, off, along, fields, churches, donkeys, people, no tourists, church across the valley, cemetery, 2 women, with babies, back from the health clinic, mobile, on a motor cycle, they give them maize, but the Canadian one, not the right colour, the road, the car, the children, off, down, fast, Simien lodge, beer, 45 birr, Debark, shower, wow, boots, cleaned, 40 Birr, Beka, TukTuk African massage, haha, Beete, his wife, cooks, injera, chicken, popcorn, lovely, photos, baby, plans, feedback, all good, beer in hotel, all ishy, news from France, Paris, not good, not good.
Debark – Axum
8am, Beka, bus, wait, Ethiopian sim card, ticket, wait, Germans, haggle, 10 am, ishy, off we go, dirt road, oh, no, no, oh no, too steep, cant look, but the scenery, need to look, too much, to take, the mountains, they go on, and on, and on, green, so green, the cliffs, so cliffy, a bus, oh no, comes the other direction, too much, heart, stands still, too much, must look, people, throw up, bus, puncture, all out, all in, on, and upwards, tea stop, bread, on, mandazi, river Tekezé, the border, to Tigray, Abraham, a doctor, talks of BMI, police enters, Tigray, contested territory, once upon a time, Shire, minibuses, a minibus, jump on, crowded, petrol, sunset, into the night, into Axum, Kaleb Hotel, jump off, where is it?, here it is, nice, shower, pizza, St George.
Breakfast, in the garden, with the birds, all colours, juice bar, avocado and mango, delish, new memory card, camera full, too much impressions, can’t memorize them all, Axum, nice, no cars, just TukTuks, wow, here they are, the needles, of granite, 2000, 5000, years old King Kaleb, Queen Sheba, her pool, her love life, too much to contain, the wee boy, 10 Birr, the cross, his smile, run off, past the obelisks, another palace, the goats, and the goat-herd, all over them, the stelae, all sleeping, ready, for the archaeologists, the market, spices, beer, from millet, with the men, the cup upside down, a sign, red, or white, the camel, from Danakil, with salt, the mill stone, for the teff, the staple, its corn, a 150th of wheat, in size, so small, so staple, so ishy.
Axum – Gheralta
8am, car comes, negotiations, past Adwa, monument, 1896, Italian troops, al fought, road to Adrigar, past Yeha, Sabaen style, then off the road, Debre Damos, monastery, 20m up the cliff, men only, all ishy, Nick goes, I stay, with a French man, photographer, camera, out of battery, lunch, with injera, watch it, being made, on, dirt road, Petrus and Paulus, precarious, ladder, wow, David, the wee guide, tells, next church, next church, one better than the other, which one is the best?, can’t say, sunset, dirt road, driver, gets nervous, fast, Gheralta, at last, bliss. All ishy.
View, from the rock, what a view, Tsagay, wee boy, 15, looks over fence, you my neighbour, he says, breakfast, meet him, to go to school, in Hawzien, many, in purple, with a water can, to feed the plants, at school, bye, embarrassing, for you, Tsagay, bank, Birr, Tourist Lodge, juice, avocado, mango, coffee/chai, bread, 20 Birr, bananas, oranges, pricy, back, dinner, lazy, read, Camilleri, in Sicily.
Tsagay, Digi, a student, from Agar, take us, over the fields, past the farms, the farmers, the oxen, that do their round, to separate, the corn, from the grass, the water, some irrigated, some not, the new, being made, rock church, the church, the priest, the farmer, the bananas, the smile, the peas, delicious, the cabbage, umbrella, for the maize, intense, all.
Rock churches around Gheralta
Gabriel, takes us, to Abuna Yemata Guh, rock, scramble, push, up, thanks, help, 200m cliff, the ledge, nerves, church, open air tombs, priest, Sunday, service, down again, the ledge again, rope, thanks, thanks so much, wow, over to another, Mariam Kokor, long gorge, wow, up, old man, nice hand, over the blank rock, on, up, steep, there it is, the church, the nun, the monk, the priest, the paintings, awe inspiring, and now, to Daniel Kokor, steep cliff, don’t look, the saints, the Mary, and her child, down again, sharing of bread, thank you, tip, ishy, all so ishy.
Gheralta – Lalibela
7.30 am, car, first stop, Megab, brother too?, ishy, speaks English, a teacher, dirt road, dusty, very dusty, hanky, mountains, villages, mud huts, donkeys, people, with cargo, all pass by, Serakota, petrol, juice, coffee, only stop, draught, very dry, long journey, dust, sand, mountains, views, wow, windy road, little food, guilt, 9 hours, maybe 10, Lalibela, Jerusalem Hotel, St George, great, shower, room with view, wow, dinner, professor, from Leipzig, Jewish, American, master mind, in global politics, islamophobia, women in Ethiopia, democracy, all on the table.
Guide, called Happy, takes us, to church, monolithic, not rock hewn, free standing, unique, in the world, ticket, 2000 Birr, worth it, Bet Medhane Alem, then Bet Gyorgis, more in the afternoon, the tourist tribe, again, not seen them, since Simien, walk, to other end, artists, Mountain View, dinner, back to hotel, many, of the tourist tribe , loud, till late, ear plugs.
More round Lalibela
Off on a trek, up the hill, up, past donkeys, people, women with babies, people carrying, carrying cargo, hey, bags, water, all things, building house, from mud, eucalyptus, coke, craft, sorry, maybe later, up, road, tourists, church, priest, again, down, down, man trying to split rock, down, we get to Lalibela, view, from balcony, sleep, off, coffee ceremony, woman, beautiful, with tattoos, children, shop, incense, Sema Hotel, german-ethio?, view, St George, wow, dinner, nice, lamb, fried bananas.
Lalibela – Addis
6am, up, to churches, St Mariam’s feast, many people, many, all in white clothes, white shawls, buy candles, my cross necklace, glad I have t, from Axum boy, wow, I am the only, of the tourist tribe, no another, maybe 2 others, atmospheric, all this praying, this blessing, this happening, where is St Giorgios, a bit lost, at awe, a boy, talks, takes me, to the church, in the church, so crowded, blessing, cross, on your forehead, of the ashes, for the candles, out again, off slowly, thanks, 100 Birr, thanks, thanks, all life, no, don’t, hotel taxi, airport, security, souvenirs, off, down, Gondhar, off, down, Addis, taxi, Zeist, Meskerem, talk art, Chinese, Kathrin, Afrojazz club, Mulatu, Mulatu Astatke, can’t believe my luck, explains his work, the stave, of the priest, his life, his uniqueness.
Off to ethnological museum, all the tribes, the customs, national museum, Meskerem’s exhibition, Mirhet, hug hug, eggs, gallery, nice, stylish, calabash work, with babies, talk, about DA, then about their project, about money, women’s perception, St George, with artist Job, Mirhet’s studio, opening of artist, with cancer, many folks, dinner, with injera, haste ye back, the end. All very ishy. So ishy. I am homesick already, to Ethiopia,to Africa, so ishy.