Skip to main content

Notebook: Gondar, Ethopia

Movie set art-deco buildings crumble under an equatorial sun. Here colors break rules at their fancy...yellow and purple get on well when splashed across a mud brick wall while an envious lime green neighbor looks on. Vegetation creeps at these high altitudes, the advancing green takes its time, nothing's in a rush over 2500 meters. Not the full out onslaught of a tropical rainforest, but more a steady walk fed by intermittent rains brought by unreliable monsoons.

Gondar Ethiopia - it sounds like a long way away.

...explore this colorful city, but first a cup of coffee in its native land under flaming Poinciana trees with a perched Raptor as company. These birds of prey patrol urban skies here, their piercing shrieks adding to the complex soundscape of the city before swooping down between traffic to pick up road scraps left behind, barely avoiding becoming scraps themselves in the process.

But before anything, the coffee...grown here, just roasted and mashed, no need for more. A ceremony to rival any other and well worth the wait.

It's early enough for the cattle to still be feeding at troughs in front of houses, but the morning sun is already hot. Boys run by with homemade kites made from plastic bags and sticks while others play football with balls make of some sort of foam tied in rags. Masters of recycling and reusing, even bottle caps get used in the making of the few paved roads that run through the city.

It isn't too early for them either, they've been up since dawn.

The air is hung with the smoke of breakfast fires and the sun glares off of everything. The pounding of mortar meeting pestle comes from the secret worlds behind every fence, more 'injera' being made.

A procession of white and the sound of singing climbs up the hill. A funeral procession wrapped in gauze. The mourners are swathed in the regal white of Ethiopia. Simple cotton cloth bordered with bright colours cover both men and women making the affair less solemn. Amharic sounds like singing when spoken, making the singing sound ethereal, far from a funeral dirge. Up here on the hill it could be mistaken as a celebration.

Gondar Ethiopia, it still sounds far, far away.


Popular posts from this blog

The 10 Best Places to Swim...?

I read a post the other day listing the 10 best places to swim around the world. Reading through them I realized that I hadn't been to even one of them!

Poor me, but then I thought, wait...I've swum in some lovely places.

Let's narrow them down to 3 in no particular order.

Ginnie Springs, High Springs, Northern Florida

If northern Florida wasn't interesting enough in its own time travel way, these springs are perfect. It's a surreal place to swim among the Spanish moss while the alligators patrol out in the warmer river that the springs flow into (the big toothy grins don't like the cooler water).

Bir Ali, Yemen

Yemen never makes it onto the glossy Caribbean style travel brochures, but the emerald green of the Arabian Sea is a mighty match for hurricane alley. Just outside the town of Bir Ali you can camp on a deserted white sandy beach that seems to extend all the way down to Aden. Behind you the sands of the beach meet and mingle with those of the desert on the vol…

Thou Shalt All Think the Same

Writing in the local paper. Local Issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

One of the first things that drew me to Spain back in the nineties was a feeling that people generally minded their own business. Sure, they might comment, criticize or even ridicule those who wore socks with sandals, ate in the street or simply did things differently, but at least they let them do it. While the hyper-entrenched norms of society exerted an enormous pressure on people to fit in, non-conformists were mostly looked down upon, but not necessarily punished. If someone wanted to transform a lovely nineteenth century house in their village into a three story apartment monstrosity, well, if the law somehow let them do it, it was their choice to do so. The homogeneity of streets and entire Spanish villages have suffered enormously due to this, but if that’s the look the owner wants, well? Taste is after all a …

Nothing to do with it

Writing in the local paper. Local Issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Just as the bartender put down our caƱas, my companion somewhat skeptically asked, “But how is it possible that you, a Canadian, are complaining about the cold here in Spain?” And he was right on two fronts, I am Canadian and indeed I had been complaining about the cold, but I persevered, “After having lived abroad so long, I’m not sure how much ‘Canadian’ is left in me but even that last little bit is sick and tired of winter, especially as it is technically now spring!” A temporary truce was called when our tapas was served and as I enjoyed my morcilla (blood sausage), I got ready for the next volley. “Really, down here we can’t complain. Look at how they getting punsished just north of here in the mountains and beyond.” And once again, he was right, the images on TV were terrible reminders of my frozen childhood bac…