I’m going to attempt to make up for lost time and start catching up on the approximately 2 zillion wonderful experiences that have happened since the last time I posted on this blog! Oy… it’s frustrating to feel so behind on this in an age where we have the capacity to give frequent updates. But the combination of the poor internet here, my computer usually not being connected to that internet, and the way the days at some point decided among themselves to start flying by at an unprecedented pace… all these have made it difficult to keep stride! Anyway, that’s my lame excuse… and here’s the attempt to redeem!
The following pictures are from Wenchi, a small town a few hours’ drive from Addis which lies on the lip of an enormous lake. But not just any lake… a lake nestled in the crater left from the explosion of a huge volcano!
We spent the first night at another nearby lodge. The monkeys were gorgeous there….
…As was the moon rising over the traditional-house-shaped lodges.
The next day we finished the drive to Wenchi. (Correction: After our car overheated trying to drive through literally a foot of dust, we got out, made friends with the people who stopped to watch our attempts to revive the vehicle – and helped us push! – and in the end, walked the last bit up the hill. But when you see people who have been walking for several hours, 45 minutes doesn’t seem bad at all.)
Here’s the crater lake:
We slept in these little huts looking right over the lake, and though it was a bit chilly, watching the moon rise and flood the dark lake with pearl-white light made it so very worth it.
We made tibs, small pieces of meat cooked in a flattened-wok pan with tons of onions, garlic and tomatoes… and re-learned the universal truth that food tastes 100 times more delicious when cooked over a fire.
The lake, as we started to climb down into the crater for some hiking:
Incredibly, as we hiked down, the landscape changed from dry and dusty…
…to gradually being filled with green.
The hike was intriguing and challenging in the way that a riddle or crossword puzzle is, because there were a number of times where we had to cross one of the many rivers weaving their way through the landscape… and the distance seemed just a *little* too far to jump—but maybe you could make it if you hopped on that rock? Or should you try downstream where there’s some spongy wet grass?
As the land became ever more green and fertile, the lushness plus the outcroppings of rock made me feel like I was in a scene from Lord of the Rings.
Sometimes you were reminded that you weren’t the only ones using the path that day!
I was constantly amazed when we ran into people who live in this crater valley… given that even the nearest town of Wenchi (which was at least a 2-3 hour walk from this valley) is itself several hours from anything I’d consider a “real” town, it seemed that but for a few encounters for trading, etc., the people probably spend most of their time in this little world-within-a-world. That’s another reason it was fascinating to see the following sight pop out of nowhere:
The water is used to turn a wheel that grinds wheat or barley into flour! Pretty impressive for a place with no electricity.
Finally, we reached the bottom, and were at the level of the lake.
In case the isolated beauty of this place wasn’t quite tucked away enough, there’s a monastery on an island in the middle of the lake! We took a small boat out there, clambered ashore, and were led into a dim but sacred-feeling area, imbued with the calm of everything surrounding it. There were scenes from the Bible painted on the walls, and the priest would tell us which saint or angel was their subject.
There were a few Biblical scenes I didn’t recognize…!
We then hiked back up, and later returned to Addis. Wonderful weekend!