Blogs from Mek'ele, Tigray Region, Ethiopia, Africa


Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele March 17th 2012

On leaving Axum, we decided we wanted to try visit some of the rock-hewn churches, which Tigray is famous for. We decided to get to Adigrat first and use it as a base. Unfortunately, a lot of the churches aren't easily accessible (one requires you to climb up a rope to visit), especially when relying on public transport. By the time we arrived in Adigrat, we were too late to make it out to visit anything, so just had a walk around town. There isn't much to see or do in Adigrat and they certainly do not get many tourists there. There is quite a few NGOs there though, as it bore the brunt of a lot of fighting in the most recent Ethio-Eritrean War. After one night there we got a bus south on the ... read more
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Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele December 13th 2011

It has taken Ethiopia a long time to shake off its international image as a nation blighted by famine, pestilence and civil war. In 1985 Bob Geldof and his gang of activists raised awareness of mass starvation in the horn of Africa with the famous Band Aid concert which went a long way to generating support and money for the people in need. An inevitable consequence of this though has been to brand Ethiopia as a symbol of despair. When I visited the African country last summer I expected the worst; bloated children, emaciated old women and fly-ridden cattle, basically a tear jerking collection of skin and bones. What I encountered was a totally different experience. Driving through the highlands of Ethiopia I was totally unprepared for the sheer greenery and abundance of beauty. Long grass ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele December 9th 2011

You scratch another flea byte as you head deeper into the Danakil Depression. As the temperature exceeds 47°c sweat pores down your face saturating you stinking clothes. Choking on toxic fumes you study the alien landscape while you pass turquoise lakes and blinding white salt pans. For a moment you feel a sense of vulnerability as your mind drifts back to the 2007 kidnappings. Losing your concentration you fall once again as a frozen lava chamber gives way beneath your feet. Suddenly Afar nomads surround the expedition team and the real adventure begins. Under the protection of the Ethiopian army, you drive in a convoy for security. With the recent infiltration by Eritrea terrorists and temporary closure of the Danakil Depression, you remain vigilant while Ethiopian soldiers scout the region, remaining on high alert. “Those who ... read more
Bubbling Sulphur Lake
Alien Landscape
Salt Pan Formation

Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele December 15th 2010

I visited Mek'ele today. I saw spectacular rock-hewn churches today. They are very beautiful. My favorite church was Abuna Yemata Guh. After seeing those wonderful sites I went to lunch. First, I went on a hike to the Yohannis IV Museum. Then I visited the Chele Anka Waterfall, which is 8 kilometers out of Mek'ele and opposite the Yohannis IV Museum. Now, back in Mek'ele, I ate at the Geza Gerelassie. I ate shekla tibs while listening to live Ethiopian music!... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele September 22nd 2010

The minibus is jostling through rural Tigray in northern Ethiopia. Rock outcrops of striated sandstone tower above the flat of the land. Fields of undulating green spread out from the base of the cliff walls, broken periodically by squat houses of stacked stones fenced in by prickly pear cacti. We pass a few tiny towns, but largely, it looks like Zion, only greener. Stepping out into the blinky brightness of the day, there is initially a profound silence. Then faintly, a whispering in the wind. It comes from the tops of the dusty-rose colored cliffs, from the stair steps of distant terraced fields, and it rustles through the green shoots of barley and tef and the spindly stalks of corn growing on the plain: “Ferenji! Ferenji! Ferenji! You! You! You!” Then, out of the emptiness of ... read more
climbing abuna yamata
the ledge to abuna yemata
abuna yamata escort - valley below

Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele August 10th 2009

It is summer and still I wear long pants and a jumper. This is on account of it being the wet season which dramatically changes the temperature. Every afternoon the sky darkens and the thunder warns of the imminent downpour. It pours for up to an hour and then the skies turn blue again and life continues as though without interruption. Mekele is a large town/small city with a lot of people (not really sure about the number as each person that I talk to suggests a different number) somewhere in the vicinity of between 120,000 to 400,000. Compared to its capital Addis Ababa, Mekele is clean, quiet and orderly. Although herds of donkeys (piled high with charcoal or hay), sheep and goats, cattle, horse drawn carts, tuk tuks and general traffic compete for the road ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele November 15th 2008

I want to describe to you how it feels to travel through Ethiopia. I want to take you with me, so that you feel like you are sitting right here next to Jos and me on this torn, itchy, plastic seat in this totally dilapidated minibus decorated with gaudy, colorful, beaded pieces of cloth that sway against each other with every jerk, creating a sound not unlike one you would get if you shook a Rastaman with beaded dreads really hard by the shoulders in rage. Sometimes Jos and I, one ear-bud for each, sing obnoxious African songs outloud out of boredom - think Toto, Lion King and Jungle Book soundtracks, and the whole bus of locals both laughs and stares at us in wonder. Shortly after our musical debuts, the driver inevitably turns on his ... read more
bus stopped
Jos playing

Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele October 10th 2008

The town of Mekele was never really on our "to see" list but it seemed to be a convenient place to do some more R&R. The last few weeks have been a bit hectic for a variety of reasons so we deserved a couple of days off. When I say couple of days off I mean just staying in one place not doing nothing ;) We visited the rock hewn churches of Tigray just to get another dose of spirituality an fitness. For reasons known only to the builders and believers most of the churches were built on top of mountains and there is never an easy way up. It was never as bad (or good) as in Debre Damo and no goat skin ropes had to be used but it involved a lot of walking ... read more
View from one of the Tigre churches
Martyrs memorial in Meckele (aka golf ball and tee)

Africa » Ethiopia » Tigray Region » Mek'ele September 10th 2008

Three days to departure and we are still packing. After a summer of intensive activity, training and spending time with friends and family, we are really looking forward to getting over to Ethiopia. We will enjoy a 'last supper' with immediate family on Friday night in London and then meet the other 22 VSO Ethiopia volunteers at Heathrow on Saturday. We will get some photos organised to brighten up the blog...and we cannot wait to try out the 56k dial-up connection from Mekelle. Peter and Ivy... read more

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