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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.


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