. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: July 12, 1999

Monday, July 12, 1999
Lalibela to Gondar, Ethiopia
Ethiopia's FlagWolo's FlagGondar's Flag

Map
Gondar, Ethiopia:
Latitude: 12° 36' 35" North
Longitude: 37° 28' 8" East
Altitude: 8044 feet
From Seattle: 9865 miles
Lodging: Hotel - Terara Hotel

Map
Today's Travel:
Country: Ethiopia
Regions: Wolo, Gondar
Route: Ethiopian Airlines Flight 102: Lalibela - Gondar
Path:Lalibela - Gondar, Ethiopia
Linear:115 miles
Weather: Rain

Available Photos:

Villagers in mist Lalibela, Ethiopia

Mass outside Bet Abba Libanos (?), Lalibela, Ethiopia

Looking down on Bet Emanuel Lalibela, Ethiopia

Looking down on Bet Emanuel Lalibela, Ethiopia

Priest Bet Emanuel, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Fasil's Archive (?) Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasil's Archive (?) Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasil's Archive Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasil's Archive Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasil's Castle (?) Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasil's Archive Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasil's Castle Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Fasil's Castle Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Adiam-Seghed Iyasu's Castle Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Adiam-Seghed Iyasu's Castle Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Random ruins Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Adbar-Seghed Dawit's Debal Castle Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Corner tower of enclosure wall Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Ethiopian church Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

Click on map to Zoom in...
Map
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 823
Linear Dist: 150374
Countries Visited: 60
Regions Visited: 237
More stats...
Hotels: 263
Friends / Family: 163
Camping: 118
Hostels: 217
Transit: 55
Other Lodging: 6
Beers: 3100
Hide...

Journal Entry:
Up before dawn to finnish seeing the churches. Met Jimmy at six and headed back to the Eastern churches. Went in to Bet Maryam where services were going on. It was pretty magical, a thick mist cold outside, the warm fragrent haze of the incence inside, and the chanting of the priest echoing through the rocks. Jimmy said I could take photos, but I didn't feel comfortable and felt pretty intusive just being there.

Went over to the Western group. We started with Bet Gebriel-Rufael where there was a service going on. They woldn't let Jimmy in because they suspected he'd been eating (it's a fasting day) - he made a big comotion and they agreed to let me in, then he wanted to interupt their service so that the priest could show me the church's cross and bible (each church has one) - I drew the line there and insisted I was ok just standing in the back of the church. Jimmy's behavior was starting to bother me - these are churches and I don't think it's right for me to interupt anyone's service - it's easy to see why there are often hostle feelings towards tourists - I don't want to contribute to that.

We took a long (pitch black) passage - with the odd bat shooting byinches from my face - to Bet Abba Libanos (I think). There was a service going on here as well, but I was able to duck in the back for a few minutes without interupting anyone.

Finally the huge Bet Emanuel - three stories, nearly forty feet tall. Prayer had just begun so I couldn't go in, but an obliging priest brought out the cross and bible for me to see. By this time my two hours of free time was over and I needed to hurry back to the hotel for a quick shower.

The ride to the airport was by four wheel drive so we could take the more direct route. Very scenic through a number of villages, but also very rough (I thought we were stuck a number of times, but the driver always got us out). At the airport I was the only passenger an obviously the guard was bored. He searched every piece of clothing, books, film canisters, etc. in my luggage messing up everything and actually breaking more than half the zippers (3 of 6, fixable - but still very annoying). He also asked questions about everything and wanted it demonstrated (why do you have two cameras? Take photos? What's this -telephoto lens, GPS, lens cleaner, corkscrew). Frustration level raised very high. The flight itself was short, smooth, and not very scenic since it was all in dense clouds.

In Gondar immeadiately caught a shared taxi into town. Checked into a hotel, and by noon I was on my way to the Royal Enclosure to see Gondar's castles. Unfortunately the castles are closed from twelve to two. Spent an hour walking around. In a lot of ways the city has a very European feel - it's probably mostly the castles, but the city center are could be in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, etcetera. After an hour I'd had it, between the slimy mud, even slimier children, the rain, and the rather urgent need of a toilet I headed back to the hotel. Spent an hour hanging out at the hotel then headed back out.

The Royal Enclosure was beautiful. Honestly I was a little disapointed though. The castles realy do come off as being rather "typical" - the ruins would be right at home in England, Scottland, ireland, Portugl, Spain, Italy, Romania - almost anywhere in Europe. Their one truely surprising feature is that they're in Africa. There's supposed to be a guide included in the price of admissions but I'm pretty sure they did their best to avoid me. I'd see a group huddling in some ruins and head towards them, as soon as they saw me they'd be gone - not sure if it was the rain or their always this lazy.

Climbed any surviving stairs, explored (mostly roofless) passages and rooms, and wandered the courtyards and gardens of Fasil's Archive (1632), Fasil's Castle (16??), Iyasu's Castle (1682), Dawit's Debal Castle (1716), Beloafa's Castle (1721) and the many random ruins. I spent forty minutes walking around the enclosure. If it'd been a nice day I could have wandered around another hour, if it'd been raining harder or it was too hot I could have done it in 20 minutes. There really isn't all that much to see, especially since Fasil's Castle (the biggest and best preserved of the castles) is closed for restoration work.

I'd decided to try to head back to Addis a day earlier (tomorrow)instead of hanging out here another day - two reasons: 1 - to hang out with Dawn (I still don't know what happened to her); 2 - I forgot to confirm my flight out of Addis and would rather do it sooner than later. I had to wait until 4:30 to see if there would be space available on tomorrow's flight - it was just after three. I wasted an hour searching for bottled water - an unsucesful mission. Then I spent a half hour sitting in a couple different cafes. No problem catching a flight tomorrow mornign - just be at the airport at eight.

Back at the hotel I tried to call Dawn, but the connection was so bad I couldn't hold the phone near my ear (no exageration a very loud high pitched feedback noise) so I gave up - I'll try again after dark. Worked on my journal until diner.


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