Blog Entry Week 7- Sunday 10/19 to Sunday 10/26
Most of last week I was traveling with Anna and Alan in the southern part of Ethiopia so I was only working at Layla for 2 days this week! On Monday we substituted in Amharic class, Sports class and Library. It was a full day of teaching! Again, since none of us know enough about Amharic we improvised and let the kids join sports class or library. The classes that day were for younger kids so it wasn't really possible for them to teach like the older kids did last week. After school, I let some of the kids from KG braid my hair… it was an interesting hairstyle. They are all very good braiders but when you have 5 kids trying to braid at once, there wasn't exactly a coherent style! I am going to try and upload the pictures to facebook so everyone can see.
Now on to the trip! There is no way I can explain everything that we did but here is a summary of what happened and you should take a look at the pictures.
·Took a mini-bus to Lake Langano- leaving from the bus station was similar to the bus scene at the beginning of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
·Got dropped off on the side of the road and walked 3km to Wabe Shebelle Hotel
·Laid in the sun on the beach amidst the palm trees and swam in the lake. Lake Langano is one of the only lakes in Africa you can safely swim in as there are no parasites, hippos or crocodiles!
·Alan and Anna got really sunburned, I however applied copious amounts of sunscreen (yes Mom, I'm afraid of skin cancer) and only got burned where I missed a spot on the back of my leg
·Came back to our room and changed for dinner, saw a HUGE spider, SCREAMED and made Alan come in and kill the spider. When she heard me scream, Anna thought a dead body had fallen on me…
·Had an awful night's sleep in mosquito netting because I was worried about spiders (and other bugs) crawling on me all night
·Woke up and hitched a ride from the hotel to the main road where we caught a mini-bus to Shashemene
·Took a 3-wheeler 14 km down a winding dirt road from Shashemene to Wondo Genet, grossly overpaid for the fun but and windy ride
·Checked in to our hotel and went to the hot springs
·Saw many adult and younger Ethiopians learning to swim in the pool
·Saw black and white Calubus monkeys right outside our room
·Met a guide and took a hike in the mountains around the hot springs and saw King Haile Selassie's personal hot springs shower and some baboons from afar
·Tried to eat dinner outside but grey Vervet monkeys were running rampant and trying to steal our food so we had to move the party inside
·Took a horse-drawn cart ride from the hotel to the main road and caught a bus back to Shashemene
·Experienced mass confusion trying to find a bus going to Dodola. When we finally found one we were the first 3 passengers on it so we had to wait until it filled up (which took over an hour) before we could leave
·Had the slowest bus driver in history from Shashemene to Dodola, the trip took 3 hours to go 71 km on a dirt road!
·While on the bus, the Bale Trek Company called 3 times wondering where we were (check out www.baletrek.com, an amazing ecotourism company!)
·Finally got in to Dodola, found the trekking company's office and met up with our guide Yosef.
·Bought groceries and ate a late lunch of tibbs and kai wot (delicious!) with Yosef
·Got on our horses and rode from the office in Dodola about 2 hours to the tented camp (almost like base camp) in the Bale Mountains
·Realized we all should have brought rain jackets because while rainy season is over in Addis, it is not over in the Bale Mountains
·Cooked dinner and drank tea by the fire
·Slept in the most comfortable and warm bed in Ethiopia inside an army tent none the less!
·Trekked with the horses about for about 3 hours around the Bale Mountains
·Met some Oromo kids on the trek who were herding sheep and goats around the mountains
·Realized that all the Oromo kids we saw were wearing rubber boots- adorable
·Found out that bamboo is indigenous to Ethiopia
·Came back to camp and cooked lunch
·I read a local newspaper with Yosef and he had me "test" his English (I gave him an A) while Anna and Alan napped
·Went on a hike up a 3300 m peak that had 360 degree views of the Bale Mountains. We were all huffing and puffing because of the altitude!
·Went on a second (much smaller hike) where we saw baboons and warthogs. Learned that hyenas live in the Bale Mountains and we all a little freaked out that they would ransack our tent at night
·Cooked dinner and sat around the fire with Yosef, 2 other guides and some other tourists from Germany and France
·Woke up at 6am!
·Got back on the horses and rode for 2 hours in to Dodola. Got more galloping in- it was a lot of fun!
·Caught a much faster bus (with Yosef's help) from Dodola to Shashemene although this time our seats were on the wheel well so it was more bumby. The trip still took 2.5 hours
·Experienced much less confusion in Shashemene (again, with Yosef's help) and caught a mini-bus back to Addis
·Got back to the Volunteer House around 5 and promptly took a shower (after 2 days of not showering in the Bale Mountains)
The trip was amazing and by far the highlight was the horse trek in the Bale Moutains. The mountains are beautiful and almost reminded me of Oregon (except the bamboo). And for those of you that know me well, I didn't even really miss showering! I was proud of myself for "roughing" it a little bit. Lake Langano was also very relaxing and satisfied any longing I have for beach time for at least the next 6 months!
One thing that hit me while we were at the Bale Mountains the second night was that there were people from 4 countries (America, Ethiopia, Germany and France) but we were all able to speak English and communicate with one another. Even more amazing was that some of the people from Ethiopia were from different parts of the country and all spoke local dialects in addition to Amharic. It was a living example of how interconnected the world has become. I was also amazed that we were able to buy bottled water wherever we went and didn't have to worry about treating our water. Even though the Bale Mountains are fairly remote, it's a reminder that there are enough tourists from industrialized countries passing through for store owners to stock bottled water.