A Bit of Everything

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Hey everyone; Cate here! We left Addis Ababa a few days ago and are now on a road trip across the Northern part of Ethiopia. We spent a day in the city Bahir Dar and took a long boat trip to an island on Lake Tana where we saw two very interesting Christian Orthodox monasteries with beautiful paintings dating back 700 years.

The monasteries were originally built in the 13th century and then restored in the 16th. It was also nice to take a walk through the island jungle as we haven’t been able to get as much exercise here in Ethiopia. And guess what? On the boat ride back, we saw two hippos. Pretty awesome!

Boat ride on Lake Tana

Lake Tana is the second largest lake in Africa

Traditional papyrus boats

Traditional papyrus boats

Inside the monastery

Inside the monastery

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Hippos at the intersection of Lake Tana and the River Nile

Hippos at the intersection of Lake Tana and the River Nile

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During our time here, I have been really enjoying Ethiopian food, especially the stews that are served with injera bread. But poor Mom… let’s just say that injera is not her favourite food, as her stomach seems to reject it. She ate injera in Vancouver – she got sick. She ate injera in Addis – the same fate awaited her. She ate injera from a restaurant in a small village on the day we started our road trip – a short while later we had to stop the car just in time for her to jump out and vomit in front of a bunch of awed kids. We are the source of amusement everywhere we go, but I’m sure we were the talk of the village on that day. After three strikes, she has adopted a no-injera policy.

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On another note: if you don’t already know, I love books. L-O-V-E them. In fact, if I go a few days without books I start seriously missing them Unfortunately, on the trip, access to new books has sometimes been a challenge. I’ve relied on iPad downloads, but wifi has been pretty hit and miss in Addis. I was very relieved to find an English book shop after some sleuthing around the capital city. Since we’re unsure of the wifi and book store scene for the next while, I got five books and have put myself on a reading limit so I won’t read the books in a few days and then go on mourning the loss of reading materials.

But want to know what’s even more exciting? Mom bought Cen and Meskie Geronimo Stilton books and they love them. Cen finished his in a day (he has grown to enjoy reading but he usually won’t finish a book this fast). For Meskie, reading definitely wasn’t her favourite subject before Geronimo came along. Now she picks up her book first thing in the morning. When we’re driving in the car (which is a lot these days), she spends most of her time reading. Mom and I are very excited to see her becoming so passionate about reading.

Next up is something I have to share with you guys. On our way to Gondar we stopped at a very interesting village, which was started by a farmer named Zumra Nuru. As a young child, he started asking people questions about gender equality, the rights of children, caring for the elderly, accepting everyone as brothers and sisters no matter their differences.

No one understood, nor accepted, his ideas. For many years he left his family to try and find like-minded people. During this time he had nowhere to sleep and ended up living in the jungle. Still, he found no one who shared his world view.

Luckily, as an adult, he successfully found people living in a small village who were happy to listen to his ideas. This is how the Awra Amba community was started.

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Founder Zumra Nuru designed this innovative kitchen stove, which has been copied by others

Founder Zumra Nuru designed this innovative kitchen stove, which has been copied by others

Elder's centre

Elder’s centre

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Now over four hundred people live in the village. We were lucky enough to take a tour around the community, including a typical home, the elders’ building, the weaving room (the community supports itself by making and selling scarves, bedding, table cloths etc), and the kindergarten class. Amazingly, some community members have even gone on to complete a university degree. I really enjoyed the village and would recommend it to anyone traveling to Ethiopia.

Now, a word about the poverty here in Ethiopia (and then I will wrap the post up, don’t worry). It makes me sad. Seeing moms with newborns begging for money, children desperately trying to sell you gum, small huts without running water or electricity… it really makes you think about how fortunate many, many Westerners are.

Mom has said that we can’t assume that living a simple life is worse than ours. If children have a home, a family, food in their bellies and access to an education (even if they have to walk an hour or more to school and back), maybe their life is good. Many of the children we’ve seen seem happy and content with their lives. Still, you can’t help but realize how lucky you are compared to the kids in ragged clothes spending their time helping their parents on the farm.

Anyways, hope you enjoy this post! Goodbye for now!

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Categories: Ethiopia, Kids Only | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “A Bit of Everything

  1. I enjoyed your post, Cate, especially when you talked about how privileged we are here in this part of the world. That is just what we’ve been learning about at Wildwood, in the “Outreach, Philanthropy for Children” course. Have you taken that before? Of course, you’ve learned so much in your world tour that you could TEACH that course now! Your book rationing made me want to send you books! How exciting it must have been to find a bookstore and get five precious books. What did you get? I love seeing all of your adventures. It looks like you’ve all grown while you’ve been away!
    cheers,
    Terry

  2. sdlc

    Hola….Oh, I loved the pictures, as they give a real flavor of sense of where you are at! Si, I like your Mom’s comments:

    Mom has said that we can’t assume that living a simple life is worse than ours. If children have a home, a family, food in their bellies and access to an education (even if they have to walk an hour or more to school and back), maybe their life is good. Many of the children we’ve seen seem happy and content with their lives. Still, you can’t help but realize how lucky you are compared to the kids in ragged clothes spending their time helping their parents on the farm.

    I find it interesting that we seem to have different pathways. Well, happy reading….smile…savoring one page at a time….I hear the garbage truck outside with the jingle jangle and the announcement of its arrival…yours from Mexico…..abbie

  3. Marguerite

    Great post Cate!
    Miss you guys. Safe travels!
    Hope to see you all soon!
    Cheers
    The Behringers

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