Yesterday we left Bahir Dar for the three hour drive to Gondar. It was a pleasant drive through the countryside passing many farms and villages. We stopped once to see a pillar of rock (and teach the local kids how to make straw horns). There were groups of people along the whole route threshing a variety of grains from rice to barley to teff, some by hand, others with help from cattle.
The first stop in Gondar was Gondar Castle. This is actually a collection of seven castles built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by a series of kings and princesses. They were later used by the Italians as headquarters during their occupation in the 1930’s. King Fasiledes built the first of the castles to establish a permanent capital. He also built a large baptismal pool used for the annual celebration of Jesus’s baptism. This was the second stop. It is still used every Jan 19th as part of the festival Timkat.
We took a detour to a new science center before visiting Debre Birhan Selassie Church, the only one of 44 ancient churches to survive the Sudanese attacks. Like the monasteries on Lake Tana, it was covered in paintings depicting the life of Christ.
Today we went to Simian Mountains National Park. Unfortunately, the haze obstructed some of the views, but the highlight was the Gelada baboons. They didn’t seem to notice or care that we were there. We got within ten feet of them and they kept eating grass. We could have watched the little ones play for hours.
On the way back to Gondar, we stopped at a village known for its pottery and got an Ethiopian coffee pot. With straws burning a hole in my pocket, we made horns. First with the kids, then some of the mothers joined in as well.