As I have settled down into my daily routines and found adaptive ways to live the African life, I have more time and energy to explore my surroundings. I feel obliged to write this blog to promote tourism in Ethiopia as a part of my contribution to aide its economy and long term development. Ethiopia has a rich culture, long standing history and beautiful sceneries which may not have been known to many outsiders in other parts of the world.
Tourism is now a favorite career subject for young Ethiopians as they see huge potential in this field, be it training in hotel management, the food industry or becoming a tour guide or translator. Often ferengis will be grabbed for a chat while walking down the road by enthusiastic tourism students to practice their English.
Lalibela, famed for its rock hewn churches, is arguably one place in Ethiopia that no tourist should miss. It is a town perched at an altitude of 2630m among mountains and rocky escarpments. It is the Holy City of Ethiopia, like Jerusalem, many pilgrims come from afar to visit. It is a UNESCO site, but is still an active Christian spiritual centre, exactly just like what it had been 800 years ago.
As for my leaking roof, some of you have suggested putting some kind of canvas on top. Here is what the European Union has done to protect the UNESCO rock hewn churches from water seepage damage.
You are welcome to throw in your thoughts or give them better suggestions about these modern umbrellas over the ancient structures.
Since Bahir Dar, the small city where I volunteer, is situated on the southern tip of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, how can I not spend a day to have a boat trip to see its famous monasteries and visit the hippos?
- Lake Tana is about 65km in diameter and averaging 14m in depth. It is set at an altitude of 1830m. It was formed at least 20 million years ago by an ancient lava extrusion functioning as a natural dam. At the backdrop, you can see the skyline of Bahir Dar city.
- You would be surprised to see the existence of this papyrus tankwa, which resembles greatly the ancient Egyptian boat, sailing across Lake Tana. It`s no more than a kayak made of papyrus. The locals are using it as a means of transportation. It takes them 6 hours of hard paddling to go to the other shore!! Obviously no life vests are available.
- Not all monasteries allow women and animals to enter. We visited this medieval church, Ura Kidane Mihret, which was founded in the 14th century. This circular church`s walls were covered by jumbo murals, painted between 100-250 years ago. Here are some interesting looking ones just for the readers to have a glimpse. (Wish to upload more pictures, but have to apologize the limitations of the internet line.)