Thursday, February 9, 2012

Nile Valley

Right, I told you yesterday that I got mugged. Lost my wallet to those pickpockets we had been warned for so many times. Suffice to say that it was the classic set-up, suffice to say that I did run after them… have you ever tried to outrun an Ethiopian? So I didn’t catch him, neither did about 200 bystanders: all those able young men, in sports outfit, flashy running shoes, didn’t move a finger, or perhaps a foot, just to tackle a fast running suspect, and that was not for not realizing what happened. Didn’t do much for our appreciation of Addis Ababa.
At least we had something to do again, spent hours in the police office to get a report, then tried to get this authenticated the next day at the embassy, who sent us to the foreign office first, who sent us to another section of the foreign office, who sent us back to the police – and then we gave up. Didn’t do much for our appreciation of Addis Ababa, either.

We found a very comfortable luxury bus to Bahir Dar, a full day’s drive, but not unpleasant. The first confrontation with African countryside, and an attractive one.
We are nearing the end of the dry season, so much of the land looks conspicuously yellow. Yet, large numbers of cattle – big cows with a hump and long horns -, sheep and goats, also many horses were grazing in the fields along the road, occasionally using that same road to move from one place to another. Traditional round huts, as well as less traditional sheds with a lot of corrugated iron. Patches with Eucalyptus, fast growing trees providing wood, for huts and everything else. Donkey-drawn carts, and lots of people walking along the roads, remarkably disciplined. Many wearing traditional clothing, and many using colourful umbrellas against the sun.
(1, 2) African country side outside Addis Abeba
(3, 4) Cows hiding under a tree, and cows using the steep hairpin road into the Nile Valley to come home.

(5) donkey cart, most popular transport here

(6) view from the bus, whilst pasing a town; colourful it is

(7, 8) local women, local dress

And at one stage the Blue Nile valley, clearly visible from afar, spectacularly cut into the landscape – which exposes some sedimentary rocks, a welcome change from the volcanics that cover around 40% of this country, and almost all of the highland plateau we are traveling through the next couple of weeks (everywhere along the road the fields are strewn with black basalt blocks; in places there are whole mountains of vertically stacked hexagonal basalts, very nice).

(9, 10) the Blue Nile from above, and from the bridge

Other entertainment along the way was a cattle market, an overturned truck and abandoned tank; yet, despite all the excitement we were happy to arrive at Bahir Dar, where we found ourselves a hotel at the shore of Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest lake, and the source of the Blue Nile. Terrace overlooking the lake, amidst lovely garden and large, bird-populated trees. Full moon.

(11, 12) local entertainment on the way, an abandoned tank and a cattle market

(13) full moon over Lake Tana
All the anxiety of the last few days Addis Ababa was fading, the trip has started in earnest!

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