Where is Ron?
Ethiopia, January-Marh 2006
Ron, windblown in Malta, February 2005
Bahar Dar and Gondar, Ethiopia
23 February - 2006
2 March 2006
Afton, Virginia, USA
Dear family and friends,
After spending several days in Bahar Dar, on the southern tip of Lake Tana, Ron took the bus yesterday (1 March) to Gondar, a city about 60 km north of the northern shore of the lake. According to one travel guide I found on the Web, "Gondar was founded by the emperor Fasilidas in 1636 and was the capital of the country for the next two centuries. The city contains a dozen castles built by the various emperors over the course of 236 years."
Ron left his bike in Bahar Dar, and will return there after a couple of days. Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile, which flows south from Bahar Dar.
I've posted some photos Ron sent of his trip to the monasteries on the Zeghe peninsula, including some of the gorgeous wall paintings (see link below). Unfortunately, four of the photos he sent were interrupted in transmission and I only received a tantalizing little strip (and nothing at all came through of the photo of the painting of St. George killing the dragon). He promises to resend them and I will add them to the photo page when they arrive. But it is still pretty amazing that he can take photos in Ethiopia, send them to me, and I can immediately put them up on the Web!
Here in Virginia we had a warm spring day today, but it is now very windy and there is a cold front coming behind the wind which will drop the temperatures again for the next several days. However, I have a few crocuses blooming, some buds on the early varieties of daffodils are beginning to push up out of the ground, and when I left my yoga class at a bit after 6 this evening it was still light! Ron and I both think spring is our most beautiful season, and there was a little preview of it today.
Love to all,
4 March 2006
Afton, Virgnia, USA
Dear family and friends,
Ron has sent more photos (monastery and Blue Nile waterfalls) that I've added to the Bahar Dar photos and also some new photos from Gondar (see links below).
He reports that he is leaving Bahar Dar by bike on Sunday 5 March, and will be heading back to Addis Ababa. I'm not sure which route he will be taking around the Choke Mountains (what a name!), but my guess would be the road that goes around the east side, since that looks like a much shorter route than the road that goes around the west side of the mountains. See the map. Love to all,
To see photos from the monastery on the Zeghe peninsula and the Blue Nile waterfalls, both near Bahar Dar, click on the thumbnail at the left.
2 March 2006
To see photos from Gondar, click on the thumbnail at the left.
Hello my dear,
I am now in Gondar and writing about my experiences in Bahar Dar.
According to my Lonely Planet guide book, Lake Tana is over 3500 sq km and it takes two days to cross from north to south by boat. A couple of times I have biked north and west to explore parts of the coast, and twice I have visited the Nile River bridge and taken pictures of the Nile.
I shared a boat with a couple of ladies from Barcelona I'd met in Lalibela who were visiting a friend from Columbia who is the project coordinator for Doctors without Borders in the nearby town of Debra Tabor. They were going to tour a couple of monasteries as well as visit a friend and his family that live near one of the monasteries, and for me was a great opportunity to tag along.
There are many different monasteries on the lake, some along the coast and some on islands in the middle of the lake. The one we visited (I think) was Beta Giorgis & Beta Maryam located on a Peninsula across from Bahar Dar. It was a beautiful boat ride and then a walk through the coffee and fruit trees.
The churches have three section. An outer ring, exposed, and inner ring, which is sacred but visitors are allowed to enter, and an interior which we were not allowed to enter or see inside. The outside wall of the interior section is covered with wall paintings of stories from the bible and from an additional book which they consider similar to the bible. So while many of the paintings are based on bible stories I am familiar with, some of the other painting were based on stories from the other book, such as the flesh eater who was led by an evil spirit until he was reformed. Sorry, I didn't take notes and often didn't understand the stories.
In the churches I saw there were many similarities, and I understand we saw one of the best examples and I have sent you some of the best pictures of the church.
Yesterday I had lunch with a Spanish doctor I met in Bahar Dar who is on the Board of Directors of the Spanish section of Doctors without Borders, and he explained a lot about their project trying to solve the problem of a parasite that can be deadly and is spread by a mosquito found in a limited area of northern Ethiopia. And last night after watching the sunset at Goha Hotel, on a hill on a mountain overlooking the city of Gondar, I joined two neurologists from New York City for dinner and a long conversation about their experiences in Ethiopia as well as general travel stories.
Yesterday afternoon In Gondar I spend several hours wandering around the Royal enclosure which is surrounded by a high stone wall and contains the remains of several palaces remaining from the time when this part of Ethiopia was the center of an empire "located at the intersection of three major caravan routes".
The entire enclosure is probably about 5 to 6 acres, and the many views of the buildings and walls change with the various views as you walk through the compound. The Emperor Fasiladas's palace has been restored and the Mentewab's castle has offices with computers and schematic drawing on the walls and desks with future renovations plans and no signs of the public library that the Lonely Planet says was in the building. The entrance sidewalk is being rebuilt and it appears the new entrance will be on the south side instead of the west where people now enter. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and, on the north end where some work was going on, I was told the World Bank was going to rebuild the banquet hall. What was the original library is being used as an office and I peeked in to take a picture for you.
Some of the buildings are just standing walls and others are just in ruins, but the entire complex is impressive and provides an interesting site to wander around and to try to imagine what it was like back in the good old days when kings lived in splendor.
Now I am off to tour Debre Berham Selassič Church, which is supposed to be one of the highlights of Ethiopia. I will let you know. [Note from Ellen: Debre Berham Selassič means "Light of the Trinity"]
No clear plans to leave yet, but time keeps on running and I still want to get to Eritrea, so I am beginning to feel short of time. But I would rather feel that time is unlimited and there is no need to rush.
More later. Either here or when I return to Barhar Dar I will resend the pictures that didn't make it. And maybe some of the Royal Enclosure and Selassie Church.
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Last updated: 4 March 2006