Ethiopia is totally different from any other of the counties we travelled through. It felt as if we’ve landed in the Bible anywhere in the Old Testament and we became part of it. The people, the way they dress, the loaded donkey carts, EVERYTHING is as one reads in the Bible. We travelled so far through the Rift lake area and were now travelling through the Ethiopian high lands. High it is for sure!!! Up and down. A very testing drive for the brave and his beauty although both comes out tops The topography ranges from the vast central plateau (the highlands) with elevations between 1800m and 4543m, to one of the earth’s lowest points, the infamous Danakil Depression sinking 120m below sea level. The highlands is where the Blue Nile has it’s origin. The highlands have been dominated by a distinctive form of Christianity since the 4th century. They are very devout and you can hear tales dating back to Aksum and the Ark of the Covenant. Ethiopia has long been a source of legend and mystery. The Danakil desert was said to have once been made of gold and not salt like today. Medieval Europe considered Ethiopia the home of Prester John, a legendary Christian King who livid in a palace of crystal and the Rastafarians of today believe that Haile Selassie was a living god. The one name that resonated through time and multiple cultures is of course the Queen of Sheba. She appears in the writings of all three monotheistic religions but it is in Ethiopia where she is known as Makeda, where the story of her life has become the cornerstone of culture, history and lifestyle. According to the Kebra Negast (Ethiopia’s national epic), the Queen of Sheba’s first public appearance was when she paid a visit to the court of King Solomon in Jerusalem in the 10th century BC. Solomon became enraptured with her beauty and devised a plan to have his wicked way with her. (As if he did not have enough wives) He agreed to let her stay in his palace on the condition that she touched nothing of his. shocked that he would consider her capable of such a thing, she agreed. The scheming Solomon laid on a feast of spicy and salty foods. After retiring to separate beds in his sleeping quarters, Sheba awoke thirsty form the food and reached across for a tumbler of water. The moment she put it to her lips Solomon awoke and triumphantly claimed that she had broken her vow.”But it is only water” poor Sheba cried, to which solomon replied, “And nothing on earth is more precious than water’”. Ethiopian tradition holds that the child resulted from the deceitful night of passion that followed was to become Menelik I from whom the entire royal line of Ethiopia claims direct descend (in truth the line if it ever existed, were broken a number of times) The story goes further…..it is also the story of the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia. It’s said the the centre piece of Solomon’s famous temple was the Ark of the Covenant and that as long as the Jews had the Ark, nothing bad could come of them. However, when Menelik came of age , he journeyed to Jerusalem to meet his farther. When he returned home his luggage was a little heavier than before – secreted away among his dirty laundry was the Ark of the Covenant. which the Ethiopians to this day believe is hidden inside a small chapel in Aksum. When coming back from Sudan, we are going to do that part of the historic route, visiting the Simien mountains, Aksum, the Rock-hewn churches of Tigray and Labilela. This is the some of the highlights of our Ethiopian trip that we are looking forward to.
This little girl came running to us when we stopped to take a photo of Lake Tana, just standing there. I asked if I could take a photo of her and she agreed. We gave her a orange which se looked at, smelled and it seemed she was not sure that it is meant to keep. When we were back in the car she put her little hand with fingers spread out against the window in a gesture of goodbye. I did the same and we parted that way, me with a feeling of joy and sadness about the encounter.