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Published: January 24th 2014
It is with a heavy heart that I begin this blog. I am sitting in Gondar airport waiting for my flight to Addis. After 3 months here, my time here in Gondar is up and now I am off travelling for 10 days before starting my next job in Nairobi.
I know that I have moaned a fair amount in this blog but I will really miss this place. My colleagues have been a pleasure to work with. They have looked after me so well and I had a lot of fun at work. The daily problems that they face here make me rethink the things I complain about at home. I am grateful to have been born in such a stable and affluent country with all the opportunities that I have had, never left wanting for anything. I am grateful that if a family or friend (or myself for that matter) gets sick at home, they will get the best healthcare possible because each life is valued, because people are held accountable if errors or negligence occur, and that they will not die because of an oxygen, drug or equipment shortage. I am also pleased and grateful that my
sister was offered and accepted an epidural last week (how could she not when both her husband AND sister are anaesthetists!) before little Joshua was born because unlike here, in the western world it is thankfully normal practice to try and relieve pain and women are not expected to just “bare it.”
I had a work leaving do last week and I was practically in tears. I realised how lucky I have been to have such helpful, caring, accommodating and (usually) motivated colleagues. A lot of them made speeches. I was truly moved. They gave me a beautiful traditional dress along with sandals that matched and fitted! Considering all my colleagues (bar one who didn’t buy it) are male, I was impressed 😉 ! I was pleased that they all appreciated my time here, liked me, and valued my efforts. I will miss them. On my last day in theatres I even got hugs from the cleaners!
My time in Gondar would not have been the same without the overseas community here. I am happy that they were all part of my life, even if for only a short time. They are all amazing people, doing great things
Bleeding heart baboon
and have huge hearts . I now have new friends from Canada, UK, USA, Germany, Austria and Israel. Thank you all for everything. You know who you are.
Anyway, enough reflection and soppiness for one day. Since my last entry I have celebrated Ethiopian Christmas, epiphany (Timkat) and visited the Simien mountains. I don’t have enough adjectives in my vocabulary to describe the mountains. They are absolutely spectacular. I would love to come back when my knee is better and explore them for longer. I am proud that I left some of my stubbornness in the guest house before going to the mountains and actually hired a mule to give my knee an occasional rest!
Timkat was a memorable experience. Tourists come from all over the world to witness this celebration. It was weird to see so many “faranjis” in Gondar! Epiphany was on Sunday. On Saturday there was a parade where all the covenants from all the orthodox churches were carried to the Fasilides' baths. Thousands of people held vigil there all night waiting for the main priest to bless the water on Sunday morning. We left the guest house at 4am on Sunday morning to ensure
Baboon on a mission
that we managed to get into the baths. It was really crowded. One of our party members fainted and some other tourists’ wallets were stolen. Many thieves travel to Gondar purely to pick pocket during this festival! We queued (it wasn’t a true British queue of course, more of a stampede) for a couple of hours and then managed to get a seat in the stand. A pictures says a thousands words and all that so please see my photos. As soon as the main priest dips the cross into the water, the water is blessed so hundreds of people jump into the water. Apparently the first one who hits the water gets “super blessed” hence there were many poised by the side of the bath ready to jump. The whole town had a carnival atmosphere for the weekend. Roads were closed, people were out and about in their traditional dresses dancing and singing. It was great fun.
My next stop is Harar and then the Danakil depression where it is 50 C!!!! Hot hot hot!!! Lets hope we don’t melt!
p.s. My title is the literal translation of an Amharic phrase -Take things step by step and
slowly but surely things will come together.
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