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Published: October 16th 2011
ETHIOPIA...The Fountain of Youth. Travelling in exotic locations...I get thirsty.
Thirsty for adventure...for raw experience of life...on paths less travelled...that captures my imagination...inspires my soul.
But will I have enough years left in me to visit the many places on my "Wish List"..?
You hear about crackpots extoling the quest for eternity...any attempt to beat the aging process...using scam tea remedies, special anti-wrinkling cream, herbal potions...even face lifts.
But I...not being a crackpot...well...I try to be more scientific.
Accordingly, now I am in Ethiopia heading for Enlightenment at the Timket Festival in Lalibela...I might as well take the opportunity to address my age limitations in the process..!
I thus begin my search for "The Fountain of Youth"...and I reckon ...some of these Ethiopian Saints...might well help me..!
As my wife Denise says "You too can have your head cut off and still live..!"
Time to find out how.
The earliest record of Ethiopia I understand is from Herodotus (484 - 425BC)..."the Father of History."
He refers to the Aithiopeans (Ethiopians) in Volumes 2 & 3.
One Quote refers to the Fountain of Youth:
"The Icthyophagi then in their
RIDING THE CHICKEN
St Gebre Manfus Kiddus
turn questioned the king concerning the term of life, and diet of his people, and were told that most of them lived to be a hundred and twenty years old, while some even went beyond that age - they ate boiled flesh, and had for their drink nothing but milk.
When the Icthyophagi showed wonder at the number of the years, he led them to a fountain, wherein when they had washed, they found their flesh all glossy and sleek, as if they had bathed in oil - and a scent came from the spring like that of violets. The water was so weak, they said, that nothing would float in it, neither wood, nor any lighter substance, but all went to the bottom.
If the account of this fountain be true, it would be their constant use of the water from it which makes them so long-lived."
Another quote: "The Aithiopians to whom this embassy was sent are said to be the tallest and handsomest men in the whole world..blah, blah, blah...the spies were told that most of them lived to 120 years old, while some even went beyond that age.."
The letter of
ST GEBRE MANFUS KIDDUS
Allowed a dying bird to drink from his eye
1165 A.D. from Prester John to the Byzantium Emperor referred to the Fountain of Youth
(see my blog "Ethiopia...Gondar to Find Prester John.")
The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus in 60 BC wrote: "Now the Ethiopians, as historians relate, were the first of all men...
...those that dwell beneath the noon-day sun were, in all likelihood the first to be generated by the earth, is clear to all, since, inasmuch as it was the warmth of the sun which, at the generation of the universe, dried up the earth when it was still wet and impregnated with life,
it is reasonable to suppose that the region which was nearest to the sun was the first to bring forward living creatures."
Having discovered Ethiopia is the Cradle of Civilization , I realise Siculus was spot on.
(see my blog "Ethiopia...Prehistory to Awasa...the Ascent of Man")
But where in Ethiopia is the Fountain of Youth?
Herodotus also said: "South of Elephantine (present day Aswan, Egypt) the country is inhabited by Aithiopians...Beyond the island is a great lake, and round its shores live nomadic tribes of Aithiopians. After crossing the lake one comes again to the
stream of the Nile, which flows into it..."
I know Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia...and I know it is the source of the Blue Nile.
I know the Nile is the life source for sustenance for millions of people...and the Blue Nile originating in Ethiopia flows into it...mmm.
And I also know...... "Hang on...wooah...not so fast..."
I can't give all the clues on where to find the Fountain of Youth.
There may be intellectual property to protect when I present my photos and evidence of the Fountain of Youth...to say Travelblog...or National Geographic...
Better be careful...Someone might try to nick it!!!
Wow...how easy is this going to be???
I have all the clues I need to get started.
Ancient wisdoms applied by a 21st Century man armed with the knowledge of the Internet.
All I have to do is find it..!
So we travelled up, down and around the lowlands of the Simien Mountains 'til we came to Bahir Dar...our gateway to Lake Tana...the lake dotted with ancient monasteries...by the shore and on its islands.
Another thing I have noticed in Ethiopia is the
monasteries are internally adorned with religious paintings...and many have the same ancient paintings reproduced over the centuries...many being of Ethiopian saints.
It's as if the message is being kept for posterity...but what is it?...and why?
I reckon there's a clue in them there paintings...and I intend to find it.
But have I got time for sight-seeing?
Pursuing my quest...musn't attract attention...I should act like a tourist...nothing worse than acting suspiciously...better to be discrete.
Stay at the Blue Nile Resort Hotel...on the banks of Lake Tana...nice sunset...nice digs...nice view...eat inside or out.
After breakfast Ermias takes us to a small jetty and onto one of the spunkiest little luxury boats I've ever been in...white leather...pretty zippy.
Lake Tana is enormous...like an inland sea...glistening in the morning light...past two islands...one with a monastery for men only...one with a monastery...women only.
Landed at the peninsula of Zege or Zeghie. Got out and walked through jungle past papyrus boats and up a rocky track until we reached markets then the 14th Century Ura-Kidan Mehret Monastery...("promise of forgiveness")... round in traditional style with a thatched roof...and vertical staffs forming the outer wall.
Inside the outer circle
is for chanting and praying.
The eucharist concentric circle next section is full of mural paintings including the death of the twelve apostles...stunning ornate doors.
The centre contains a replica Ark of the Covenant...definitely off limits.
I dallied on the way back...lots of market stalls by the side of the track...trying to remember the ones that caught my eye on the way up...bought a Lalibela cross, a Gondar cross and a pendant for 300 birr...felt both of us were happy so probably a reasonable price.
And then I saw it...or rather them...caught up with Den, Mike, Ros & Ermias...sitting in a jungle shelter on the banks of Lake Tana...drinking coffee.
Ethiopian coffee...served in small cups... black...strong...clean... one sugar...not muddy.
Beans picked from the jungle we were in...dried...treated... roasted over the small fire...talk about fresh...with of all things...popcorn...served by a mother...her young daughter enchanting us...but avoiding the smoke, as she had a cold.
And the coffee?
Superb...the best coffee we have had on our "Coffee Tour" of Ethiopia..!
And Den bought a coffee pot from her...now a prized possession.
Back in the boat...ten minutes to another jetty.
Welcome to Azewa
Mariam Monastery...similar design...the centre of another village...murals of Mary's life, the miracles of Jesus, the Ascension and...of course St George...the Patron Saint of Ethiopia.
My opening photo is of the resident priest...Aba Haile Mariam Genetu...with whom I exchanged details.
There's something about these paintings of Ethiopian saints that intrigues me.
Their stories in Oz would be bizarre...but here?...well...mmmm.
Looking...looking...back on my quest...for the Fountain of Youth.
The smell of violets...that aroma...
And...and then I saw it.
To be continued....
Relax & Enjoy,
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