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Archive for January 21, 2014
The Panoramic View Hotel is a recent addition to Lalibela (Sept 2013) and, as such, the property, rooms, bathroom, grounds, and garden are very new and clean.
I had a nice sleep and woke up at a leisurely pace for one of the first times on the trip. After taking a much needed shower (you have no idea how dusty it was this time of year), I joined Mesele and Mercy in the kitchen for a breakfast of scrambled eggs and a traditional Ethiopian dish of bread bits soaked in spices and oil and lightly fried. We also had Mercy’s special cinnamon tea, made with a masala straight from the Addis spice market.
I caught the 1200 flight back from Lalibela to Addis, getting to sleep in a little later this morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and then meet Kassa in the lobby for our final car ride at 1000. It was a semi-tearful goodbye after the long drive to the airport on a hotter than normal. I didn’t realize how said I was to leave until I started to leave! I became emotionally attached to this spiritual city in mind, body, and spirit, and formed a connection with the land and the people. I left my watch (physical watch as well as my metaphorical sense of time) behind, and also my heart.
I woke up around 730 and had breakfast – fried eggs, toast, and papaya juice – in time for my 0830 meeting with Kassa to begin our drive to the Monastery on the Mountain – Asheton Maryam Monastery. It was about an hour car ride crawling up a windy and steep mountain that began right around the Four Olives Hotel in the center of town. Along the way we saw a few interesting things.
This morning I had an 0830 flight to catch from Gondar to Lalibela. I scheduled the hotel shuttle to pick me up at 0700 the night before, and had an early buffet breakfast at the Taye Belay Hotel around 0630. As suspected the hotel shuttle was not there at 0700 (Ethiopian time, after all) – after a few calls to the driver and some urging on my park to the receptionist, the van eventually arrived at 0730. It didn’t matter anyways because the flight was delayed by 30 minutes. This seems to be the norm on Ethiopian Airlines domestic flights.
Gondar, not Gonder. Although I still can’t stop thinking about Lord of the Rings, and hoping that Gondar, Ethiopia will fill me with just as much wonder and inspiration. An early morning Ethiopian Airlines flight whisked me away from the bustling capital city to the more-rural North, and formal (Medieval) capital of Ethopia, Gondar.
I’m sad to say this is the last day of the Schaffer family 3-country trek through Central Africa. We had a great time and, more importantly, nobody fought, nobody got sick, and everybody survived. In fact, we may even do it again soon (Spain!?).
Today was another big driving day, as it took 7 hours to get from Kisase to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. We got started at 0930 and didn’t arrive at our hotel, the Emin Pasha Hotel, until 1700. We stopped for lunch for about 45 minutes at an orphanage in a small village, and Marv made a donation. Leslie picked up some shawls at a vendor at an earlier stop, where we also picked up some Fantas.
Upon leaving the lodge, we saw elephants, buffalo, and antelope but moved on without stopping: “That was so yesterday,” Leslie remarked.
The drive was unremarkable, but did include beautiful rolling hills and vistas, tea and banana plantations, and a variety of farming. We also noticed that a lot of the infrastructure development was foreign managed. Robert explained that the Ugandans still had close ties to the British, who had leases to run industrial endeavors, such as cement factories. As we got closer to Kampala, we noticed Chinese road crews building roads and undertaking construction projects.
We also noticed the influence of Indian culture in the cuisine, the look and feel of the businesses, and the advertisements. For example, samosas were on every menu and the presence of large Indian conglomerates manifested themselves in architecture and marketing.
The hotel was is called the Emin Pasha Hotel, a German Jew who had quite an interesting and adventurous life in Africa (but not much to do with the hotel that bears his name). It was a walled oasis/villa amidst the capital city.
Lush gardens, immaculate, tasteful, and luxurious furnishings, and delicious food. I had dinner in while Marv and Leslie went out with Robert for Chinese food (I wasn’t feeling well – slight stomach cramps, which Cipro ultimately cleared up). I also watched the first television in many many weeks (CNN), and learned about the freezing weather in the US (including my home city, Boston).
When Marv and Leslie returned from their outing, I learned that they went to the Fang Fang restaurant, and that it was outstanding.
Tomorrow we fly out of Kampala and I begin my adventure alone in Ethiopia.
We woke up early and a cup of coffee fueled us for the morning safari drive, where we opened up our Land Cruiser top and to spot animals. Our drive started at 0630 and we returned around 1000. We actually ended up seeing more variety the night before, but here’s what we found that morning: