PAge 1, Bahar Dar, Gondar and Lalibela

Every one called me crazy for going to Ethiopia alone. Remarks like "Nice to have known you" or "Bring your own food for the whole trip" i heared quite often. How ever...i found a country with (mostly) very friendly people, tons of history and culture, beautifull mountain scenery and a varied and unique wildlife!! It is fair to say that Ethiopia has a big image problem. So I invite you to have a look at some of the pictures i took.
Watch out might have to change the image you have of Ethiopia!!!

A lot of people complimented me on the emails i wrote from Ethiopia so i decided to put them here as a kind of travelogue (only slightly edited). The main reason for this is that I am a lazy bum and i dont want to do too much extra work:-)
Here is the first one, shortly after arrival from Bahar Dar, 27 october:

Dear friends and family,

I arrived safely in Bahar Dar yesterday. So far everything went as smoothly as my daireah did in Uzbekistan. I was even surprised how easy going everything was at the airport in Addis. A bit too easygoing actually. Of course my flight to Addis was delayed and I was in a hurry to catch the connecting internal flight. 2 minutes before departure time I came to the check in desk sweating and panting. The guy behind the desk didn’t seem to be in a hurry. He checked me in and told me to wait.
So I waited…..and waited….. And waited some more.
It turned out that he, coz I was late, checked me in for the next flight to bahar dar, leaving at 11 . No problem man! But telling me would have been nice!

I pitch my tent in the most beautiful campsite in the world, on the lovely grounds of the Ghion hotel on the shores of lake Tana. Beautiful birds are in the trees everywhere. Even a fish eagle and some geiers are in the tree above me.
Wow...I am in Africa!!!!!
An hour later after arrival there a group left for a boat trip to some island monestaries. So I decided to join them. It was a great afternoon. In the evening I had my first Ethiopian meal (spicey!) and my first Ethiopian beer (only so so). At night was kept awake by a monk who was signing near my tent ALL NIGHT!! Okay…he sang beautifully…but at one point I felt I could strangle him.

This morning I will go to the Blue Nile falls, the second biggest waterfalls in Africa. In the afternoon I will cycle around a bit and see if I can spot some hippos. So everyone, Don’t worry. I am safe and sound. Ethiopia at a first look feels very safe. My next email possibility will be in Addis Abeba, where I will be 12 november.

Sincerely, Joost

Now on to the pictures.........

Pic 1 : Interior of one of the churches on the Zeghe peninsula on Lake tana.
Pic 2 and 3: Some murals of the churches
Pic 4: The Blue Nile falls. A picture every tourist in Ethiopia seems to make.
Pic 5: the Blue Nile falls from Below

Pic 6 : Again...the blue Nile falls.
Pic 7: A tree. Well..... what more can i say about it?
Pic 8 and 9: two shots from the "royal enclosure" In Gondar.

Actually...i was in Gondar and Lalibela AFTER did my hiking trip in the Simien mountains (see page 2) but the pictures seemed to fit better here, on this page with more cultural content.

The next 10 pictures are all from Lalibela, together with the Simien Mountains the absolute highlight of my trip.

Pic 10: Just one of the many passages between the churches in Lalibela.
Pic 11: Beta Georgis; the most beautifull of all rock hewn churches in Lalibela.
Pic 12: One of the many monks. he is definately on a higher level of conciousness!!
Pic 13: Inside one of the many churches. Forgot which one, excuse me.
Pic 14: Morning Prayers outside Bet Maryam.

Pic 15: Morning scenes outside one of the churches.
Pic 16: A priest.
Pic 17: The Front of Bet Medhane Alem, the biggest church of them all.
Pic 18: another piest showing off his robes and treasures.
Pic 19: Inside a church. Again...forgot which one.

Here´s another email written in Addis Abeba, after i returned from Lalibela on 12 november. I wrote another email before this one from Gondar but you can read it on page 2.

Hiho everyone,

I am in Addis Abeba now. Been here exactly 3 hours and already concluded; i dont like Addis. This is just a big, crowded, noisy, dusty and featerless city which hasn't got much to offer for a tourist like me. At least its safe here on the streets.

Tomorrow i will escape this giant dustbowl and take the bus to the BAle mountains where i hope to see more lovely scenery and lots of wildlife. Bustrip will take at least 11 hours. Not exactly looking forward to that. My last busride here wasn't exactly a succes; the bus broke down halfway and I had to wait two hours for the next bus, which was already full of course.

I just got back from the magic Lalibela. This small town has 11 churches that are carved in 1 piece from solid rock. The most amazing thing of it is that these churches aren't some relic from a once glorious past. No.... the are pretty much used the same way they were used a 1000 years ago, when they were created. Priests and monks still chant by candlelight from 800 year old bibles and wave with 900 year old crosses. It really feels like stepping back centuries in time. Oh man....i felt like i entered Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom!!
It was great!! Magical!! Fabulous!!!!!

I dont think i will be able to email before I am back in Addis the 24th but i already said that before. I will ask around if there's internet somewhere but please dont count on it!!

Take care all, Joost

To page 2, The Simien mountains!

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