On our second day in Bahir Dar, we visited three monasteries on Lake Tana built between 900 and 1300 CE. Each was on a separate island. It was about an hour boat ride to the first and although they didn’t look like much from the outside, it was decorated with stunning paintings depicting the life of Christ inside. The first was the most spectacular but all were nice.
Between the second and third monasteries, we took the boat to the outflow for the Blue Nile to look for hippos. We were told it’s rare to see them, so I was focusing on the papyrus kayak loaded down with reeds when Dominique spotted the first one.
We stayed for several minutes watching them poke their heads out of the water. The massive creatures seemed almost as interested in us as we were in them.
At the dock for the third island, a 14 year-old boy had just returned from school on his kayak (his friend was having fun hand paddling the Styrofoam case an outboard was shipped in). We talked with him and he agreed to let me try his boat. It was far more stable than I expected but was not very hydrodynamic. I was able to paddle faster than the boy on the large piece of Styrofoam, but only just.
Later, we explored the large market in town. It was fascinating to see the variety of goods being made there. An entire aisle was devoted to making new things out of old tires including shoes, ropes and water bladders. Another area was occupied by metalsmiths making oil lamps from used cans and then there were the spices… amazingly colorful and fragrant. Finally there were several stalls with TVs connected to PlayStation 2s. Anyone can rent time on them for play, but mostly it’s teenage boys betting on who can win FIFA World Cup.