25.07.2016 - 25.07.2016
Yesterday I did the Grand Tour! I was picked up at 7am by one of Marjolein's Ethiopian friends and off we went on a boat into massive Lake Tana. Tigistu knew exactly where to go and there they were - 2 majestic hippos wallowing in the shallow water. They played hide and seek with us but I eventually managed to catch one on camera ( you'll have to believe me).
Having ticked that off my list we proceeded to visit several monasteries and museums scattered on islands on the lake. The first and most impressive monastery was built in the 1300s, is still mostly in its original state and remains fully functional. It is filled with beautiful original paintings which have been amazingly preserved given the harshness of the environment.
Tigistu is a tour guide and full of information about everything Ethiopian. He also knows a lot about the Ethiopian Orthodox religion and chatted away knowledgeably to all the priests and monks. I am very thankful that I went to Sunday school as a child which allowed me to generally keep up with the conversation and also appreciate the art.
We had one particularly memorable encounter. A priest had told us a long but interesting biblical story about an Ethiopian saint. He spoke no English so the tale was translated to me by Tigistu. At the end of the discussion, the priest asked where I come from. He clearly had no concept of Australia soTigistu decided that he might know about kangaroos. A hilarious scenario ensued where Tigistu and I tried to explain via miming. You can imagine!
Tigistu even grabbed the priests flowing robe and tried to fashion a pouch to explain about the joey. The poor guy was so confused. Then I had the brilliant idea of googling for pictures on my phone. The priest was absolutely fascinated and wanted to flick through all the images; asking many questions. He then rushed off and brought back his own smartphone (obviously without internet) and took photos of my phone images. It was so cute!
Another exciting part was walking through the islands' rainforests. They were so peaceful and we saw many beautiful birds and monkeys. There were thousands of wild coffee trees which weren't flowering and I would have walked right past them without knowing if Tigistu hadn't told me. Interestingly, Eucalyptus trees have been imported from Australia and they are scattered around everywhere in this part of Ethiopia.
We ended the day with dinner but when Marjolein and I got home, we encountered a new problem! The lock on our compound broke and we were locked inside. We managed to find some tools and tried attacking the problem from inside but had to admit defeat and call the hospital for help. One of the midwives and an orderly came to our rescue. They thought it was hilarious and spent the first few minutes in fits of laughter. Eventually we managed to break the lock but then had to work out a mechanism to keep the gate closed if Marjolein got called into work. Of course this was all done in the pitch black night under the light of our phones. Another interesting experience in Ethiopia!