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Published: December 9th 2019
Woman with lip plate
The women of the Mursi people adorn themselves with lip plates
From Lucy, to Haile Gebreselassie via women with lip plates
We also travelled before we joined TravelBlog. We have started to digitalise photos from those pre-TravelBlog trips and we are planning to write about some of them. We will write when we have the time and time is usually scarce so these blog entries will be far in between. As of now we have been averaging one per year.
This blog is from one of the last journeys we made before we got our first digital cameras and started blogging about our travels. It's about a trip we made in Ethiopia in 2005.
All photos we have here were taken with reversal film, also known as transparencies or slides. Much of the original colours have been lost in the years from when they were taken until they were digitised a while ago. That's the reason why many of the pictures here lack lustre and are somewhat dull. Unfortunately, there is very little we can do about that.
Ethiopia is a large country and we only had two weeks on our hands on this trip. To make the most of
Church of Saint George
Lalibela is a town known for its spectacular churches.
our time we decided to sort of divide the trip into three parts. Part one was to the north where we visited two important cultural sites, Lalibela and Gondar. Lalibela Lalibela
is a town known for its spectacular churches. What makes it special is not the large number churches, even though there are many of them, it's because some have been carved out of the rock instead of having been built in traditional way.
The most famous of these rock-hewn churches is the Church of Saint George
. It was built in the 12th or 13th century. It is hard to imagine how much work they had to put into removing all the surrounding rock. The tools they used then were far less effective than the ones we have today. Gondar Gondar
was the capitol of Ethiopia from mid 16th century until 1855. Several of the emperors that ruled during these 300 years or so built their own palaces in Gondar, palaces that can be seen today.
After Gondar we took a flight back to Addis Ababa, the current capitol of Ethiopia, and then another flight to the south. There
Church of Saint George
The most famous of these rock-hewn churches is the Church of Saint George. It was built in the 12th or 13th century. It is hard to imagine how much work they had to put into removing all the surrounding rock.
we started the second part of this trip which included Jinka and Omo Valley. But before we write about that we would like to mention the flight from Addis to Jinka, because that is a story of its own. Flight to Jinka
The story of the flight to Jinka begins at the gate. While waiting for our flight we started talking to one of the other passengers, an American named Harvey. We talked about current travel plans and other things. We soon learned that Harvey is a very experienced traveller. Far more experienced than we are.
After a while they called out that it was time for boarding. Somewhere around 20 people started walking to the gate. We looked around at the other passengers and quickly realized that most of them are just as experienced travellers as Harvey. We were shepherded out of the terminal and towards the plane. When we saw the plane everybody started looking nervously at each other. The plane was small and looked like it had been due to be retired for the past 30 years. Well, we all boarded and then came the next surprise. One of the
seats, a seat where one of the passengers was supposed to sit, was lacking upholstery. It was just a steel frame sitting there. Had they been using our plane to take spare parts to other planes?
Soon it was time for take off. The pilots took their seats and left the door to the cockpit open. In 2005 that was a big no-no! The regulations on closed door to the cockpit had been in effect for at least three years by then. The pilots started the engines and began taxiing. That's when a distinct sound going "clonk, clonk, clonk" was heard throughout the plane. Again all passengers started to look at each other nervously because you don't want to hear a plane going "clonk, clonk, clonk". Especially not a plane where it's known that there are parts missing from. The pilots stopped taxiing and through the open door to the cockpit we could see their body language. It said "what the heck was that?" They eventually shrugged it off and continued taxiing again. And all the way to the runway the plane went "clonk, clonk, clonk...". .
We took off and the pilots started
Bete Medhane Alem
Bete Medhane Alem is one of the other churches of Lalibela
flying towards Jinka in the south of Ethiopia. It was a windy day and the plane was small. Every gust of wind made the little plane we were on rock like a small boat in rough seas. So once we were in the air the "clonk, clonk, clonk..." was replaced by "bounce, bounce, bounce". On the way to Jinka the plane made a short stop in the city Arba Minch. Just before landing a gust of wind shook the plane so hard that the pilots had to abort the landing and go around and try again.
When we eventually reached Jinka we landed on Jinka Airport. The runway at that airport is a lawn. When there is no plane landing or taking off, animals are grazing on the runway and the local kids use it as football field.
To say the least, this was an unusual flight. We weren't scared but we have to admit that it was a relief that we didn't have to fly with that plane again. But Harvey, he is hard core. He flew with the same plane three times more while he was in Ethiopia. Jinka
Human remains in an open grave Jinka
Human remains in an open grave in Church of Saint George
is a small dusty little town which serves as the hub of the region. The town itself is not really a reason to go there but it is a gateway to small interesting villages nearby and to Omo Valley. Omo Valley and the Mursi People
We have over the years visited many interesting and fascinating places. Omo Valley
is one of the most spectacular of them all. That's because the Mursi People
live there. To see them was like stepping into an article in the National Geographic Magazine.
In Jinka we rented a jeep with a driver/guide. He drove us into Omo Valley to one of the largest settlements of the Mursi People. The women of that tribe adorn their bodies with paint, scarification and by piercing holes in their lips in which they place lip plates. We have seen pictures of women wearing lip plates but we didn't think that we would ever see it with our own eyes. We thought it was a practice that went extinct in early 20th century. But in 2005 the women were walking around with lip plates and we could not see any sign that they
had plans to quit that habit any time soon. Road from Jinka to Addis Ababa
After we had visited Omo Valley we embarked on the third part of our trip in Ethiopia - returning to Addis Ababa by bus. We made several stops on the way. One of those stops was at Wondo Genet Resort Hotel. It was almost 15 years ago since we were there but we still remember this place. It was a bit run down and there were very few guests there. But it was a hotel that had soul and we really liked it there. It felt a bit sad that so few people found their way to it. Addis Ababa
In Addis Ababa we did two things we are going to write about here.
We went to National Museum of Ethiopia because we wanted to see the exhibition about the Lucy - a skeleton of an Australopithecus found in Ethiopia in the early 70-ies. We didn't see the actual skeletal remains that were found, they are too valuable to be on display and are hidden in a vault. But we could read about
Shoes made from used tires
In the market they sell shoes made from used tires
the finds and we saw a replica of the skeleton.
We went to Olympic Cafe - a restaurant owned by long distance runner Haile Gebreselassi. Back in 2005 he was still in his prime and he was one of the best long distance runners in the world.
This is our story from this trip back in 2005. We enjoyed thinking back on it and hope you liked to read about what we did.
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