Otherworldly Ethiopia and... finally... home !

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June 13th 2013
Published: June 13th 2013
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....and heading back to Canada tonight!

The first of 11 churches, built over 1000 years agoThe first of 11 churches, built over 1000 years agoThe first of 11 churches, built over 1000 years ago

Christian Orthodox is a BIG deal here.
We apologize for the lack of inspiration in the upcoming words and I fear that our Ethiopian experience has suffered for our want to be home. Our inspiration has also suffered from seeing how the animals are treated in the rural areas of this large and densely populated country. This often unnecessarily harsh treatment of life, has my empathetic heart hastily retreating for safety. The people certainly don't have it easy, but sometimes we saw the animals bear the often brutal brunt of the frustration and helplessness the people here must be feeling.

Our 4 day trek through Simien Mountain National Park was also disappointing on a few fronts. As our trek started, it became painfully obvious, for both the people trying to eke a living and the natural environment/wildlife, that despite being a critically endangered habitat for many species found nowhere else in the world, 80% of the park is under human use. See aforementioned comment on the treatment of working animals, and we have a recipe for not a particularly enjoyable hike, although there were glimmers of beauty and our guides were fun. We gave away our lunches each day, any extra clothing we had with us, and gave $10 (a small fortune) to a woman so she could take her baby boy to the hospital for treatment of a terrible eye infection (http://gondareyesite.com/eye_disease_ethiopia.htm).

To top it all off, I developed a delirious fever on day 2 and we were stuck in one spot for 2 more nights until someone could come pick us up! For those of you who might not be familiar with my history of delirious fever, which has now occurred 4 times in my life, picture 3 hours in a tent with Liz singing, laughing, trying to escape the tent, and dancing in her sleeping bag. Oh yes, and talking to my finger. I don't remember much, but Steve said it was simultaneously hilarious and quite concerning (our fault that we had no medication with us, and were 2 days from a doctor). All's well that ends well, as I slept for most of the two days and seem none the worse now that we're back in town. well....maybe that's a matter of opinion :P

The upsides of our trip here have been some strikingly ancient and impressive cultural history (see the pictures of Lalibela churches), and we saw Lucy! Like, the
Olive treeOlive treeOlive tree

the entire town of Lalibela was built to imitate Jerusalem, almost a 1000 years ago. It is the 2nd holiest place in Ethiopia, and the site of an annual Christmas pilgrimage. During the pilgrimage, thousands upon thousands of people arrive here.
real Australopithecus Lucy. Her 3.2 million year old fossils were right there for us to see. We read that we could only see a replica, but turns out there is a special exhibit on right now and she is on display for this month only. She was/is 3 feet tall and fully grown when she died. Between seeing Mrs.Ples, Taung child and the current excavation site of Little Foot in Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa (aka Cradle of Humankind), and seeing the real Lucy in Addis Ababa National Museum - we are humbled and feeling evolutionarily unfit to be in the presence of such things.

We happily fly home tonight and with any luck should be home by mid afternoon Friday June 14. As always, we are deeply grateful for all of you in our lives and thank you for joining us on our journey to Africa. We will still post a few videos when we are back in Canada, but by and large, we are saying goodbye now in blog-land and hopefully saying hello to many of you in real-life very soon. Keep your eyes out for an Africa get together soon to be planned, that will include yummy food and a short slide show. Everything will be kid friendly and we promise to take a bath before seeing anyone. In fact, our first day back has already been fully dedicated to bathing and personal grooming. My pores are opening just thinking about it.....

Additional photos below
Photos: 25, Displayed: 24


...from a single rock.......from a single rock....
...from a single rock....

this is our fifth church i think....
this church had stairways that took us through hellthis church had stairways that took us through hell
this church had stairways that took us through hell

....a completely dark and claustrophobic tunnel....that then rises up into the main room of the church. Thankfully we didn't have to stay in hell for an eternity, only about 10 minutes.
I wasn't allowed into this room.I wasn't allowed into this room.
I wasn't allowed into this room.

Either because I have boobies/vagina, or because I don't have a penis. I'm not sure which.
Art of St. FranciscoArt of St. Francisco
Art of St. Francisco

he didn't wear clothing, only his own hair woven around his body. Same at St. Francis? he does seem like to like animals :)
one of the most precisely cut churchesone of the most precisely cut churches
one of the most precisely cut churches

the lines are so straight...it's mind boggling that is was being dug from above, into solid rock.
St. George's ChurchSt. George's Church
St. George's Church

...the last one of the day...perhaps the most dramatic.
St.George's ChurchSt.George's Church
St.George's Church

The roof was cut so that is was slanted and can drain water, so it is the most preserved of all the churches.
Steve and I!Steve and I!
Steve and I!

..and George
Please be nicer!Please be nicer!
Please be nicer!

at least someone is trying :)
Gelada BaboonsGelada Baboons
Gelada Baboons

it's windy out here!

13th June 2013
Art of St. Francisco

St. Francis was said to have worn a hair shirt under his "rough clothing" at all times. There is a story that when he was first "called to God", he took cloth from his cloth merchant father's shop and sold it to get money to repair a crumbling church. His father took him before the bishop to answer for the theft and the bishop told him to return the money; God would provide for the church. So St. Francis returned the money and also stripped off the rich clothing provided to him by his father and left that place wearing only a hair shirt. It's great being raised Catholic, eh? :)
13th June 2013
Art of St. Francisco

had no idea YOU were raised catholic
...but thanks for the background info on St.Francis. i wonder if he gets hot being so hairy all the time!
13th June 2013

Holy shit Liz
You probably saved that kid's eyesight. Way to go.
13th June 2013
I wasn't allowed into this room.

You probably didn't miss out on much, frankly.
"Ooh, look at our special room! It's got a chair and some cloth. No women allowed! Totally what Jesus would have done." /snark
13th June 2013

Is that...
... baboon dick? I guess he can be allowed into the special room.
13th June 2013
big me, little me

Seeing primates grooming each other always gives me the warm-and-fuzzies. They look so nice "at home" like this, which is funny considering what raging destructive maniacs they can be otherwise. Kind of like people, I guess.
13th June 2013

Safe travels home! Glad your fever subsided, sounds scary. Love the pics!
14th June 2013

It will be nice to be back (and have you back), but mixed feelings to leave African air and soil? (even though your experience of the park sounds like fodder for discussion). You and Jboy can exchange delirium stories! Deets please. We call his "the plague". :)H
15th June 2013

definitely lots of discussion ahead.
hahaha - will have to swap some tales with you and J on all sorts of things! Not a lot of mixed feelings right now, loved our trip and love being home!! Can't wait to catch up soon! xoxoxo

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