As we walked to the van, we passed by three men with signs, and when David noticed that one read “David”, he jokingly said, “Hey, my name’s David, but that can’t be for me.” Well, that man followed us out to the parking lot. We assured him that we weren't expecting a ride and if we were, it would have Michelle written on it because I was the one that did all the hotel booking and David apologized for confusing the situation. We hopped in our van and headed into Gondar.
And, of course, that sign was meant for us.
But we were blissfully unaware of this at the time, enjoying the ride and talking with another man who operates a Simien Mountain Tour company in the area. He told Bereket that he grew up in the mountains and that whenever his father harvested the grain each year he would say “Bereket” before gathering the grain into piles. He said that all the farmers do it. It is a way of asking for abundance, of more than the bag that you are trying to fill. We always knew Bereket’s name meant "the gift that the wise men gave Baby Jesus" but didn't realize this second meaning. It’s very similar to the meaning in Turkish Arabic that our waiter, Oskar, told us about on a cruise we took once. (To give her her due, Eskedar means "For eternity" or "infinity").
The man dropped us off at the Lodge and we got out to check in and were told they were completely booked. It wasn't until later that I realized how far we've come, that we were in a foreign city being told we had no reservations in the busiest time of the city (it’s Epiphany in a few days) and neither David nor I were the least bit panicked. I just asked the man to phone Effram the owner. Soon, I was talking to Effram and he was explaining that he had sent someone to the airport to pick us up but we hadn't met him. We felt horrible about the mix up. Thankfully, within 15 minutes or so, we were all sitting with Effram and having tea and laughing about the mix up.
But we were still without a room, as he was completely full. Luckily I had booked months ago and Effram was going to find us a room at a nearby hotel and take us there himself and make sure we were settled. We would pay the exact amount I had been quoted to pay before. We were bundled into a van and driven a short distance to quite a new hotel with five floors, walked up all five floors and were shown to two adjoining rooms (both with bathtubs!). It was then I noticed the initials on the towels – AG. This was the AG Hotel – the top rated hotel in Gondar on TripAdvisor. We would definitely take it!
B’s last haircut was in Hang Dong (outside Chiang Mai), Thailand so that was two and a half months ago. We happened to walk in at a good time when there was an opening and Bereket was seated right away. There were photos of hairstyles lining the walls and Bereket got to pick whichever one he wanted. It was great to have choice! The barber was a very nice young man that talked to David constantly about improving his English. “How is my English? 50%? Most people say I talk too fast but you come back next year and I will talk slower.” He showed David his English book that he’s been studying on his own and asked his opinion on it and if it was true – "did practice make perfect?". All the while he was talking he was giving Bereket an excellent haircut. You can see the before and in progress photos here and the after photos later when we are at the Castles. The haircut cost 25birr or $1.47 Cnd. We gave him a sizeable tip, thanked him very much and headed across the street to the Castle entrance.
Of the six, our favourite was the first built by Emperor Fasilides in the mid 1600’s and the last castle built by Empress Mentewab a century later.