After even more Timkat craziness I found my way to what is traditionally Gondar's most famous site, the massive Royal Enclosure which includes a number of castles in various condition dating back into the 17th Century. They were occupied well into the 19th Century by royalty from Amhara Region. The first most remarkable impression I had was noticing just how much they looked like European castles, just with some twists.
The enclosure was really quiet and there were very few tourists and no fake guides (or real guides for that matter) around to bother me. I think they were all in the streets enjoying Timkat. It meant that I could slowly wander around, take some pictures and just sit in the shade and imagine the place a few hundred years ago and that is what made it such a magical location for me.
I believe that the Gondar Castle's are the most successful UNESCO project I have ever seen. They were remarkably well preserved and taken care of but at the same time capturing the concept of "ruins" to great efficiency. Capturing those elements in the second largest city in the country, right in the center of the urban
chaos, is really quite impressive and something I have only ever seen in more remote areas (Macchu Picchu, Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat, etc.). Congrats UNESCO.
Spending time in this family restaurant for the last few days has been a lot of fun. The family is really kind, with really limited English, but I can't help but feel really welcomed. I go out and do whatever I want and come home to some version of an Ethiopian family who makes sure I have a mattress to sleep on, some food in my belly and lots and lots of annoying Ethiopian traditional music to lull me to sleep.
I am really happy that the chaos of Timkat is over. Even though it was neat to be near what was suppose to be the Ark of the Covenant and to see the Royal Bath's full of water, I am even more excited to have things in the country calm down a bit and the craziness subside into day to day life. It will be nice not to have to push and shove everyoneor to fight for spaces in cafes and restaurants. Much more calm is coming my way. Today
is probably my last full day in Gondar, happy and sad to see it go. But I still have one more adventure waiting me here!
I spent the rest of yesterday playing pool (and losing, it has been a few days since I won), drinking Macchiatos and thinking about what I am going to do with the rest of my time. I have really been enjoying not thinking about when I have to go home or where I am going to travel to. That freedom of time and location is really liberating, unfortunately today I am going to have to start thinking about it in detail. Do I extend my flight ticket? Do I visit other countries? Do I slow down and spend the last few weeks in some parts of Ethiopia or race somewhere to see something more exotic like mountains in Kenya? Rainforest in Uganda? The crazy port city life of Djibouti? I almost feel stressed thinking about thinking about it!
One thing that won't stop are these blogs!
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