I think it might be safe to say that if someone was asked what first came to mind when they thought of Ethiopia, the answer would still be an arid flatland, scourged by drought and famine, as it was in 1984. There is SO MUCH more to Ethiopia. It is an awesome country (sure, we’re biased as our children were born here), and getting to spend time here among the people and the scenery makes me feel that that is a safe statement to make.
After setting off from Lalibela, our next destination was the Lalibela Hudad (roughly translated at: [King] Lalibela’s farm). To get there required a guide, a donkey and some leg muscle. Our large packs were loaded on the donkey, while we carried the two smaller packs. To give you some idea of the elevation we were climbing to, Fisher Peak (which you can see from Cranbrook, B.C. and is part of the Rockies) is 2,846 meters (or 9,336 feet) in elevation. On the other hand, the Lilibela Hudad is over 3,300 meters (or over 10,826 feet), a difference of 454 meters (or 1,490 feet) higher in elevation!
The further up we hiked, the more astounding the views became.
Finally we were on flat ground again! How anyone ever managed to carry up king size mattresses and larger items boggles the mind.
We were shown our tukul (usually, but not always, a cone-shaped mud hut with a thatched roof), and found it very cosy looking. Plus, the view out the front door wasn’t too bad, either. The beds had many blankets on them, as there is no power at the Hudad, and it gets quite chilly once the sun goes down. They also provide guests with sweaters, robes, and hot water bottles in the bed at bed time. We found out the first night that they were all quite necessary.
Meat & Greet
After everyone had eaten, another custom was introduced to the new visitors, that being foot massages. Older gentleman would get down before you and massage your feet all the way up to your knee. It felt so good after the long hike. To say “No” would be disrespectful. These are the same massages that pilgrims are given as they come into Lalibela each year. The men massaging had huge smiles while they worked, and one in particular sang songs in Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia). After we had bid everyone goodnight, we strolled back to our tukul, and one night we lay out on a cot and just stared up at the sky. Michelle and I don’t recall ever being far enough away from some sort of city light to fully appreciate how extraordinary the stars look when there is absolutely no other light source to dim their majesty. We will always remember the night skies at the Lalibela Hudad.
School Work or Wildlife: which would you choose?
Nobody Makes A Monkey (Or Baboon) Out Of Us!
When the two daughters who were present went outside to keep an eye out for the baboons (who frequently come and eat the barley that they are growing) we were able to ask the mother more questions. As we did, she started to make us coffee, and also gave us cups of warm milk, that I have a feeling was very fresh (Michelle and I both found this to be a wonderful drink).
Just as we were about to partake of the coffee ceremony, a yell was heard from one of the children outside. The gelada baboons (also known as the "bleeding-heart baboons" because of the unique colouring on their chest) were eating their barley! We rushed outside hoping to see one or two, but to our amazement there were about thirty!!
When we finally came to our senses and realized that our taking photos is in no way more important than this family’s crop, the young girls chased the baboons away (at least for a day, anyway). We went back inside the tukul and had coffee with our hostess. She was so generous, kind and hospitable. To be invited into her home was a very humbling experience. Life can be very hard to understand at times, and this was one of those times.
We thanked the mother for giving us her time and refreshments, then set out, hiking back to the Hudad.