Monday, 31 March 2014

Playing Games In Ethiopia

Forget Xboxes or PS4s or electricity. If you're a kid looking for a game to play, head out to any street and you'll find a spirited table game. The rec room is outside.

Foosball, ready for action.

Kids playing some sort of shuffle game. A pool table, being renovated.

The foosball game is getting competitive.

A break in a ping pong match.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Jelly Sandals In Ethiopia

The national shoe of Ethiopia? Bright jelly sandals. They're everywhere, on everyone. Great colors and a great bargain.

Shop owner, rocking the jelly look.

Shoe change area, Lalibela.

Sandal samples.

No shortage of options at the local jelly vendor.

The height of jelly fashion, the multiple color look.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Archeological Areas Of Axum

Besides the impressive Stele field and various churches, Axum features a few understated archeological sites to visit.

Come on down to a tomb or two.

The building ability at some of the sites is impressive. Who needs mortar? OK, maybe some cement, but check out the intricate stepping of this wall and the nice stone corners.

The palace of the Queen of Sheba, 55 rooms strong. And a sewer system!

Sublime fig tree at the palace.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Axum Stele Field

One of Axum's biggest (tallest?) attractions is an impressive stele field, located across from the main church in the center of town. Imagine if those Easter Island figures had babies with Stonehenge. OK, maybe don't imagine that scenario.

The field consists of dozens of stele of various heights and refinements, scattered in two main areas. The biggest ones are together and seem the most complete. But, exactly what are they?

No one knows for sure. The stele date to about 300-500 BC and face south. Some stele have elaborate carvings to resemble architectural features, other stele do not. Perhaps funeral markers? Why not.

The field.

The biggest stele, unfortunately now toppled, with no plans for re-erection. The tallest stele left standing. Mussolini took this stele in 1937, as a really big war souvenir and it was finally returned about six years ago. Welcome home!

Plenty of rough, unfinished (or purposefully left rough) stele are also in the field.

Details. Carvings on the stele emulate architectural features, whether building blocks or doorways.

Exit through the gift shop.    

Friday, 21 March 2014

Ethiopian Rural Architecture

Ethiopia has a great, simple architecture tradition in its rural areas. Obviously born from necessity of materials and cost, the styles of the homes still exude a certain natural grace.

A couple of typical houses, made from sticks and mud with tin accents.

Buildings can also come in round versions, looking a step away from an organic fantasia, in the way the wood has been weaved into a structure. Roofs are weighed down by rocks, more plentiful and effective than nails.

Proud homeowners.

A good look at the layers needed in the process of building a home. Mud, the finishing touch.

Open for business. The store can be made from sticks and mud, but the goods inside will be the usual detergents and personal care products.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Flying The Ethiopian Skies

Ahh, hopping around a foreign country through its small town airports. Ethiopia was dandy, nice airports, easy ins and outs. With the airports only processing a couple of flights a day, you don't have to worry about things getting over-crowded and backed up.

Hello Lalibella!

Luggage, waiting to get on a plane. And people waiting for their luggage.

Empty carts, also waiting.

Did we mention the waiting at an airport, no matter the size?

Something must be happening, the seats have been vacated. But not much, just the crowd shifting a bit closer to the departure door. So close!


Monday, 17 March 2014

Hello Ethiopia

James had a chance to visit Ethiopia recently and had an amazing time. The country is beautiful and there's great history to see, from churches carved into hillsides to religious festivals. Famine? An unfortunate political maneuver from the 1980s.

Now you can see field after field filled with all sorts of grains - many more varieties than the Western world is accustomed to eating.  Ethiopia is the second largest country by population in Africa at nearly 90 million.

Plenty of ancient structures to visit. The baths of Fasilides.

In the capital, Addis Ababa, you can see Lucy, the famous skeleton. She's estimated to be 3.2 million years old. A present day Ethiopian, hauling eucalyptus branches.

There's a big festival for Epiphany every year called Timket, a chance for priests to wear their fanciest robes.

The crowd coming out for Timket. Another ancient structure, a stele at Axum.

Ethiopians are beautiful. Girl lounging at her parents' stall at a market.

Mud and sticks for rural structures, even little stores. Plenty of natural beauty, including this waterfall near Bahirdar.

How to harvest grain? Threshing.

Boy outside a temple. The Ark of the Covenant is said to be housed in this church building in Axum.

Girl at her cooking oil stall.

Traditional structures, weaved wood and layers of mud. A non-traditional structure, the amazing Bete Giorgis, a church carved into a rocky hillside.
Time to do the laundry.

Stay tuned for more posts about Ethiopia....