Fish and Birds and Finally Some Internet

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
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Trip End Nov 19, 2012


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Where I stayed
Tadessa Enjoy Hotel
What I did
Lake Ziway
Abidjatta-Shalla National Park
Shashamene Rastafarian Settlement

Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Thursday, November 8, 2012


I got to see the election results and cheer on Wednesday morning & even got to see & hear Obama's acceptance speech in the airport lobby.  Almost everyone was watching - interest was high here - no one in my group would have wanted Romney either.

It has been a long day.  I had to think of where we started....the Ghion in Addis Ababa.  I managed to pack my daypack and camera pack with stuff I might need for the Southern part of the Northern trip so I could store my big green bag on my way to breakfast.  I sat with Nadine and John and Jacinta.  Jacinta especially, but we all had major trouble getting coffee for breakfast.  The was compensation in the form of a lovely made-to-order omelet however.  It was a first for my stays at the Ghion!

We then set off south out of Addis.  This took awhile because we hit a lot of the morning traffic again this trip.  The lane going into the city was deadlocked for quite awhile.  People were rather bored with the cityscape of corrugated metal, dust and smoke.  As we started leaving Addis, we emerged into an industrial area with steel mills and other factories.  I didn't really remember this from the first trip, but Kibrom explained how we would see lots of big trucks on this route because it was the road to Djibouti and a lot of heavy trucks passed this way from the port.  Djibouti is main port for Ethiopia.  Finally we began to emerge into the countryside.  I still enjoyed the haystacks - there seemed to be more of them now - and the round thatched huts and the people walking on the roadside and the cattle, goats and donkeys.  Others had hoped for a more dramatic - or interesting - landscape.  Kibrom noted that we had entered the area of the Rift Valley, as seen in the acacias.

We stopped at a grocery store that was full of snacks.  I think I remember it from the first trip.  Then we stopped at a restaurant near Lake Ziway.  We walked out again to the Lake where the fishermen fed the marabou storks and pelicans.  Peter identified the plovers as spur-winged plovers and I saw the other birds too:  egrets, fish eagle (I think I saw it), sacred ibis, and the hammerkop - brown bird.  There was also a small brownish bird that I don't think was identified and then a kingfisher of some sort.  I barely saw that.  It was great fun to watch the fisherman clean their fish and throw the offal to the birds who caught it with beaks all open in a row.

After more driving, we entered the Abidjatta-Shalla National Park that I saw on the first trip.  This time, however, we walked on the road.  First ostrich were spotted and then the Grant's gazelles.  Some saw warthogs as they darted through a few times, but, even though I didn't see them, I did see the big warthog mound with several holes dug into it.  There were also some birds around.  This time I was close enough to some really beautiful different grasses and managed to take a few photos of them.  I messed up though because I had left my bigger zoom lens on the previous setting so I have bunches of photos taken at the wrong settings.

It was growing later now as we drove past the turnoff for Lake Awassa and headed for Wondo Genet.  We passed the Rasta town - which is a crossroads through Ethiopia and very important as well as an agricultural center and rich in resources.  Lots of people were heading home from the fields and work.  There was a line of people in big, floppy straw hats coming back from around the vineyard area near Lake Awassa (although, according to Kibrom, most grapes are grown in the west and southwest).  We drove through the small town of Wondo Genet and Kibrom was telling us about Haile Selassie building his new palaces in the regions.  Our hotel was a former Haile Selassie palace.  Then Kibrom told us about the next day's activities including a possible visit to a village and seeing how the false banana was prepared.  The stem was scraped, the stuff was fermented for 2 months and then bread was made from it.  False banana was also used in houses and something else he mentioned.  Oh, well.

When we got to the hotel - across from the hot springs pool - Sian said there was a problem - the hotel had only 6 keys for us.  There was a bit of drama as people were tired and didn't want to face this kind of problem.  Kibrom came back and said we had 3 choices:  stay here but some people would have to tent it; find rooms in a 2nd hotel for those not fitting in this one, or go to a different hotel in Lake Awassa for which he was waiting to find out if they had rooms.  After a number of brave souls checked the tents, Kibrom came back and re-outlined the choices with the addition of having rooms in Lake Awassa.  Plus Kibrom said the hotel was a nice one. The decision was simple - all were for going to Lake Awassa and rearranging the itinerary.  But we would come back tomorrow and spend the night in Wondo Genet.  Kibrom also mentioned that future Exodus trips would have this changed itinerary.  (In retrospect, I am not sure this would be wise since most everyone was dissastified with Wondo Genet after spending time in Hiwassa.)

The poor driver was summoned back to the bus.  The bags were reloaded and we piled back in.  It took about an hour to get to the new hotel.  It was quite impressive on the outside.  Three or four stories with an inner courtyard and a separate bar with tables and TV in it.  We got our rooms.  Those of us sharing could get single rooms so Sian opted for a single, so I got my own room too.  The rooms were a real surprise:  refrigerators, flat-screen TVs and - biggest surprise of all - jacuzzi showers for 2 in all of our rooms I think.  Not all had hot water before our 7:30 dinner meeting time, but we are all hopeful of a "special" shower in the morning. 

Then came our next surprise - pizza on the menu.  Actually, the menu was very extensive.  Sian saw Gorgonzola Pizza and immediately chose it because she has been fantasizing about Gorgonzola.  Unfortunately, no Gorgonzola.  I don't think there were olives either because the vegetarian pizza didn't have them, but the pizza was good and I got a doggie bag with three slices for tomorrow for lunch!  There may even be wi-fi here but it doesn't work in the rooms so maybe I will wait until tomorrow to try to use it.

Now it is after dinner and I will try uploading some photos since, with my cold, I haven't done much in the last few days in an attempt to get to sleep and recover more quickly.  I wasn't blowing my nose so much today, so maybe I am over the hump.


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