Archive for the 'East Africa' Category
The Highway From Asmara To Massawa Drops Over 8000 ( 2500m) Feet In Just 100 Kilometers. We left early morning temperatures not far above freezing arriving to close to 90 ( 32C) on the coast.
At the entrance to the city is the Palace of Emperor Haile Selassie. Though he was murdered by the Communist Derge in 1975, his palace continued to be used by officials until it was bombed by the Ethiopian Air Force in 1991, when Eritrea began its’ War of Independence. To this day, it is still in ruins, like much of Massawa , in contrast to well preserved Asmara.
The visa to enter Eritrea is only good for Asmara itself. To travel anywhere else in the county , an interior Travel Permit is required. This took about 2 hours to acquire the day before. One must arrange transport as well. The driver’s name and the car’s license number are listed on the permit . TotalAdventure passport number deleted for security purposes.
One must carry the receipt as well, to prove that the 51 Nafka ( $3 ) fee was paid.
Along the highway there may be toll collectors.Baboons demand bananas in order to allow cars to pass without harassment.
Massawa architecture is more Ottoman than Italian.
Statuary Of The Lion King.
Barbed wire – possible live bombs inside of another palace.
The port on the Red Sea – almost all ships from China.
On Haile Sellasie’s Porch.
L – 1011 TO Nowhere.
Wartime damage un repaired after 30 years. But people live here.
Its’ been a long wait for the bus – about 45 years.
Bottled water plant , shuttered in the 60s.
Mothers and Children.
General of the Troop.
Returning to Asmara – high above the clouds.
The New Generation Of Eritrea !
From Adigrat, Ethiopia , it is only 77 miles ( 120. km) to Asmara, Ethiopia. However, the border has been closed since it formed at independence in 1991, other than a brief period in 2019. Instead of 77 miles, I flew nearly 800 miles on 2 flights, from Mekele to Addis Ababa and then from Addis to Asmara, including a lengthy walk from.the domestic terminal to the international terminal.
There are 4 major languages in Eritrea – Tigrina, Arabic,I talian and English, and 9 local languages.
Arrival In Asmara was relatively smooth. Getting the visa is not easy – I actually had an agency in Washington DC handle it, whereas I normally get them on my own. Asmara Airport has flights to Addis Ababa,Dubai,Khartoum, and Mecca.
Asmara is perhaps the best preserved Art Deco city in the world. It is a 1930s Mussolini era time capsule.
Ave Maria Roman Catholic Cathedral.
Eastern Rite Catholic Church.
Snail mail is still used as internet is extremely slow. TotalAdventure could not even access What’sApp.
Dining At Hotel Italia. I was the only customer, but had a great pasta and soup meal with beer for about $ 5 – 75 Nafka.
15 Nafka = 1 USD.
Perhaps The Best Coffee In The World. East African Beans, Italian Style.
Ancient Jewelry For Sale.
Getting Ready For Saturday Night.
The city has a. lively nightlife. This picture was taken on a Saturday morning.
Perhaps The Most Art Deco Building In The World After The Chrysler Building In New. York. Fiat Dealership That Closed In The 1960s Due To War
Imported Angolan Grain.
At the flour mill.
TotalAdventure saw most of Asmara in a day. It is a fascinating place with few foreign visitors, the majority of them Italian.
Axum Is One Of The Holiest Christian Cities On Earth. It Is Home To The Ark Of The Covenant – The Tablets Of The Ten Commandments Held By Moses.
In Middle Ages Europe ,In The Time Of The Crusaders, there was a tale of a paradise called The Land of Prester John. A land of unimaginable riches, and home to the Holy Grail. Somewhere near Ethiopia, though the Crusaders never got beyond Jerusalem.
A Truly Ancient Land.
Egyptian emissaries erected stellae in the Fourth Century, though quite a few have fallen.
Sunrise in the Land of Prester John.
The modern Church of Maryam ( Virgin Mary ) near the Ark Of The Covenant.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant, or Tabot, in Axum. The object is currently kept under guard in a treasury near the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion.( Wikipedia) Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia by Menelik I with divine assistance, while a forgery was left in the Temple in Jerusalem. ( Wikipedia.) Melenik I was the son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba.
A Peaceful Dove – An Apparition ?
An Ancient Stellae Field.
A Cantankerous Camel.
Brutal Punishments For Sinners.
Rugged Trees For the Dry Climate.Tigray only gets a few showers in the summer.
One of the best restaurants in Ethiopia – in Adrigat.
Lamb and Beef so fresh you can eat it raw.
Hotel In Adrigat. Did not stay there.
Captured In Battle.
Debri Damo Monastery. Accessible only by rappelling up the cliff.
Even monks 80 or 90 years. old can do it. Once they can’t, they stay.
Two Fascinating Weeks In Ethiopia then came to an end. TotalAdventure moved on to nearby Eritrea, though it took two flights to get there. TotalAdventure would especially like to thank Awaze Tours for making our private journey possible. Also Special Thanks to our driver Engdu ! Ethiopia is not an easy country to navigate and Awaze helped make all this incredible experience possible.
The Simian Mountains In Northern Amhara State Were Formed By Extreme Volcanoes About 40 Million Years Ago. They Tower West Of The Rift Valley, Which Runs Almost The Whole Length Of Africa.
The Highest Mountain Is 15000 Feet ( 4550 m) . Snow is known to fall in the wet season. TotalAdventure experienced below freezing temperatures in the early mornings.
A Gelada Monkey Family Forages For Dinner. Snacks from tourists are strictly forbidden.
A Guard With An AK-47 Is Mandatory , To Guard Against Hyenas In Simian Mountains National Park. Hyena jaws are so strong they can snap a femur like a small chicken bone.
GeladaMonkeys sleep on the cliffs at night, in order to be inaccessible to hyenas.
A Father is unfazed by his human cousins. They are 5 times as strong !
Sunset From 11,000 Feet ( 3384 m) at the Simian Mountain Lodge.
A Fireplace Keeps The Dining Room Warm. Outside it was 26 F ( -4 C)
Our drive out of the mountain range. Drivers must be careful, with 3000 ft. cliffs on every curve.
Priests Enact The Carrying of Boxes Which Carried The Ark Of The Covenant From Jerusalem To Axum, Ethiopia.
TotalAdventure, a Catholic, went to Ethiopia to explore the origins of Christianity. Dismayed by the ever increasing commercialization of Christmas throughput the world, to the point where religion is barely mentioned ,we decided to go where Christmas is not commercial at all, but a joyous occasion celebrating the arrival of Christ on Earth. Like much of the Christian Orthodox world, Christmas is on January 7th and Epiphany 12 days later on January 19th. Because this year,2020 is a Leap Year Timkat was on January 20th. In the West Epiphany is celebrated as the arrival of the 3 Kings, one from Ethiopia. In Ethiopia Timkat celebrates the Baptism of Jesus Christ. In Gondar’s Emperor Fasilides Baths. After many hours of prayer and singing, male participants will dive in , re enacting the Baptism.
Christianity arrived in Ethiopia by the 4th Century. Traditions and mystical celebrations changed little by the time Ethiopia was effectively cut off from Europe and the Holy Land by the 12th Century. The ceremonies we see here, especially in the video above, are the closest to Original Christianity.
As darkness falls on Timkat Eve, the momentum builds, with prayer, chanting and singing.
Another palace of Gondar.
The Three Kings.
TotalAdventure returned to the Fasilides compound by 5 AM. The Faithful were fervently at prayer.
Monks Sing Around The Baths as they have all night.
Sahle-Work Zewde, the President of Ethiopia, Came From Addis Ababa To Take Part In The Ceremonies.
Blaine Zuver, Director of TotalAdventure, Is Interviewed For the Ethiopia Herald. Story Here.
Part of The President’s Security Unit. Many soldiers were on patrol as well.
At last , after sunrise, the clarions blow and joyful adherents of The Lord re enact The Baptism.
Timkat 2012 ! (2020) The Ethiopian Calendar is 8 Years Behind The Western Calendar.
A Very Unfortunate Incident Occurred At Timkat. Bamboo bleachers are constructed each year so the crowds can get a view above the walls surrounding the Holy Pool. They are built to accommodate perhaps 200 or 300 people.
Just before sunrise the overloaded structure collapsed. Ten people were killed. More than 200 went to the hospital, some paralyzed for life. The ceremony was disrupted for about an hour, then went on.
As Timkat approaches, the entire country gets into celebration mode. We leave Lalibela on. Saturday – 2 days before. Roadside markets are busting, as people stock up on food for the large family feasts after a 24 hour fast.
A music man in the Highlands playing his masinko. Watch him play on the video above.
Coffee beans growing on the side of the road. Ethiopian Coffee is amongst the best in the world !
A boy brings coffee to market. Rural children work for their families, but not for others as far as we could tell. It’s a necessity that armchair moralists of the West may not understand.
All food is very fresh.
Two sisters off to market.
Restaurant Mountain Vista.
A colorful Injera lunch.Various meats and vegetables, mostly cold.
United States help is much appreciated. With 109 million people in a mostly desert country , extra supplies are needed.
A cold Saturday morning, everyone on the way to buy and sell.
Spices are abundant.
Spices Are Abundant.
Inside a market bar. TotalAdventure was obliged to try some of the local firewater – made from fermented fruit that still had seeds floating in it. Powerful ! Though it was only 9 AM, music was blasting.
Bamboo for sale.
In The Twelfth Century King Lalibela Decreed A Holy City Known As New Jerusalem – To Be Built From Solid Rock. Above Is Beti Gyorgis – St.George ,One Of Eleven Churches Carved From The Earth.
The Light of Jesus Shines Upon A Monk.
Days Spent In Prayer Unchanged From The Fourth Century.
Very Little Restoration Has Taken Place. Due To The Arid Climate And Solid Rock Construction, Lalibela Remains Much Intact.
Envy Of The Crusaders Who Sought Ethiopia, But Couldn’t Find It.
There Are 2 Masses Per Day, At Dawn And At Noon,Each For Two Hours. No Eating Or Drinking Is Permitted Beforehand ,Not Even Water.
While Ethiopia is being “Discovered ” there are few crowds.
Rock Church From Above.
An Approach To Church.
Exterior of Compound.
Light Of Jesus.
Outside Lalibela- A Church Built In A Cave.
St.George From Below.
Holy Waters – A Bit Stagnant.
No Assembly – Just Carving !
Lalibela Houses. Only Recently Did The Town Receive Electricity.
The two day 500 KM journey from Addis Ababa to Lalibela is rugged and fascinating. Ethiopia is a land harkening to Biblical times, with a few modern twists like cars and smartphones.
The two day
On the first night , TotalAdventure stayed in Kombolcha and posted for the first time to the Magazine. After that , the voyage became too bsuy, exploring and traveling until well past sundown, meals with locals, and slow internet made daily contributions difficult. The next morning, before leaving the city, we passed through a market on the main street.
People walk for miles from the countryside to sell. their wares in the market.
Ethiopian markets have many spices In the US this would be sold in tiny packets for many times the price.
Salt , perhaps from Danakil .
Outside town, Gelada monkeys also shopped for food, asking passerby in cars. While many think the climate must be hot, as Ethiopia in in Africa, we were almost always between 7500 and 11000 feet – 2300m -3400m. In January daytime temperatures were generally in the low 70s F( 21C) to about 40 F at night ( 4C ).
Ethiopia is 33% Islamic and 62%. ( mostly Orthodox) Christian. In general there are no conflicts over religion.
Wheat is pulverized into fine powder by the hooves of oxen.
The powder is used to bake inerja – the ubiquitous bread that accompanies almost every meal in Ethiopia.
What appears to be a towel is the inerja. You use it to scoop up the meat and eat everything.
Evening in Kombolcha.
An amazing waterfall coming off the Glacier this afternoon in South Iceland.Today was the first day – actually only a half day – on the Ring Road around Iceland.
A boiling caldera.
1000 Year Old Viking house.
The Geysir Erupts !
Volcanic rock formations , recently formed.
Icy River !
For adventures in Iceland, CLICK HERE
Every Tuesday morning at 8:05 , Train K23,the Trans-Mongolian Express, leaves Beijing Railway Station for the 30 hour journey to Ulanbataar,Mongolia. From there it is possible to connect all the way to Moscow. It is truly the way to arrive in Mongolia- to get a sense of how large,empty and remote this Central Asian nation is.
The timetable all the way from Beijing to Moscow.
For adventures in Mongolia, CLICK HERE