Monthly Archives: June 2014

West into the highlands of Ethiopia

After our court day in Addis, we had a couple days in which we could be tourists so we hired a driver to take us westward to Winchee Caldera.  We had a few hr drive into the lush highlands (7,000 – 8,000 ft elev).  Then a 16 km hike down, around, a boat ride across the lake, than a hike up and out in a circuit hike through a variety of volcanic features.  Along the entire drive children would run to the edge of the road to wave and yell “hello”, and “How are you?”  Likely the only English they knew.  The locals dont see too many forengis (white foreigners) so we are a novelty.  Early on our trip I attempted to learn some Amaric (the official language) phrases, but quickly gave up as everywhere we went different languages were spoken as there are over 70 different languages spoken in Ethiopia.  Another lesson I quickly learned was that Ethiopians dont like their picture taken so that was a challenge for me.

Mekele to Addis Ababa

Mekele, Ethiopia Pt 3

Mekele Part 2

One of my favorite things to do is to visit the local market places to experience the local vibe and color.  Here are some photos from an afternoon of checking out local markets.

Mekele Ethiopia Pt 1

We flew to Addis Ababa, then north to Mekele.  Ethiopia is 11 hrs ahead of Alaska time putting it almost exactly at the opposite end of the planet from AK.  As soon as we steped off the plane I could smell that we were in a third world country as to me they all smell the same: smoke, diesel exhaust, feces, flowers, life and death.  The air is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Our first  stop was to meet our son at the orphanage where we were greeted with a traditional coffee ceremony-as coffee is a huge part of Ethiopian culture.  Coffee originated from Ethiopia.  As a non coffee drinker (I had tasted twice before in my life and concluded it must be an acquired taste) I was obligated to take an obligatory ceremonial sip at least 5 times during our visit. We spent the next 4-5 days alternating between visiting our son at his orphanage and sightseeing in and around Mekele-walking the streets and immersing ourselves within the culture, including more than occasionally stopping at coffee houses.  Mekele is at about 6,500 – 7,000 ft elevation, temps typically between 65 -75f, and typically pretty arid as a variety of cacti cover the light colored sandstone cliffy terrain.  Reminded me of parts of southern Utah, the San Rafael Swell in particular.
One of our day trips was to visit the DERG Memorial and Museum, which honored the 17 yr struggle for Ethiopians to remove the Marxist govt that was partially responsible for the famine during the 80’s that we as westerners were aware of thanks to rock stars (Band Aid) and the “Feed the world” movement that raised tons of $ for food that ended up rotting in warehouses as the Govt at that time didn’t care.
Another one of our mid day trips during Thomas’ nap time was north to a rock hewn church that was carved out a single hilltop of sandstone.  It was carved in the 3rd century, then when the Muslims invaded they tried to burn it down.  It is still used today.

Headed to Ethiopia via Boston

After waiting 3.5 yrs we were finally told in early May that we needed to be in Ethiopia on May 13 (my bday) to attend a court date to adopt a 2 yr old boy that we had been matched with back in November of 2013.  We scrambled to get pricey plane tickets (due to short notice) to Ethiopia with a brief layover in Cape Cod to drop of Ben with my bro while Deb and I continued via Frankfurt and Jedda to Addis Ababa-the capital of Ethiopia.  Attached are some pics during our one day at the Cape.