Bishangari

Trip Start Mar 19, 2005
1
5
Trip End Apr 02, 2005


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Where I stayed
Eco-Tourism

Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ethiopia might have lost its access to the Red Sea, but it still has complete access to a beautiful red lake.
It is called Lake Langano and is about 200 kilometers south of Addis. Unlike most Ethiopian lakes, it allows for swimming, because of the lack of dangerous Bilharzia protozoa. These little parasites live in snails and have infected most other lakes in Ethiopia, so taking a swim there might make it your last.
We stayed in a newly built eco-tourism resort. I was a bit sceptical at first, reasoning that tourism is unecological by definition and that booking an eco-tourism resort is just a patch for the (rightfully) apologetic traveller who is lucid enough to realize that his occupation endangers what he cherishes.
But then I came to Bishangari and was swqayed by its beauty, its harmony and its generally benevolent spirit. I write these words sitting on a porous white stone at the beach of Lake Langano, watching birds fly low above water, less and less visible in the beautifully fading light of an African sunset. The usually red water looks a deep brown in these last minutes of the day and shadowy grey clouds, stretching majestically on multiple layers of the closer-than-normal sky, project a feeling of vastness into the awed observer's heart, dwarfing us few visitors in the lost cause of returning to our innocence.
The resort attempts the seemingly impossible: comfort without harm. It tries to provide enough comfort to alleviate the most bothersome hardships of a natural way of life, but sacrifices comfort for ecological compliance when there is a clash between the two. Every lodge has one or two electric lights, but they are stark and unfriendly, suggesting the use of candles and oil lamps which are easily accessible everywhere. The electric energy is provided by a bio-gas-fueled generator that runs in the night. Warm water is provided by solar energy, caught in two meter high stations sparsely distributed over the resort's area. All houses were built using local materials, thick tree trunks, tightly woven straw mats and surprisingly sturdy looking ropes. Even the staff seems to be "home-grown". The friendly Oromo girl, who conducted the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, told us that the resort employed 37 locals.
Although the resort charges european prices, I didn't feel ripped off. Now my cynic mind can't even acquit this wondrous place as a cheap scheme to profit from modern man's guilt. Under mocking standing ovations by the idealist in me, my inner cynic shamefully lies down to die, his ethereal body graced by the last sunrays of a triumphant dusk.
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