Last Saturday the school organized an all-day outing for the teachers. Actually they organized it for a visiting trainer who was here for a professional development session, and we were all invited to go along. This was our family’s first trip into the countryside.
We drove north for about three hours over the Entoto mountains and through the Sululta Plains to a place called Debre Libanos. The road was smooth and paved all the way, but often crowded with people carrying goods to and from the towns. We passed a lot of children herding livestock; many of them greeted our bus with friendly waves.
Our first stop was the Ethiopian Orthodox monastery. The monastery is located near a cave where Saint Tekle Haymanot stood for so long on one foot (7 years or 29 years, depending on your source) that the other foot fell off. It has been a holy place since the 13th century, but the church there has been replaced several times. The present one, built by Haile Selassie, dates only from 1961. Still, it some nice paintings and stained glass windows by the famous Ethiopian artist Afewerk Tekle, who died earlier this year.
We looked at the ecclesiastical artifacts (bibles, crowns, gowns, crosses, and a kind of umbrella that the priests carry) in the museum. Our party didn’t want to hike up to the cave so we loaded back up on the bus and headed for the waterfall.
We stopped at a lodge for lunch. This lodge, run by a German woman and her Ethiopian husband, consists of a group of tukels perched on a cliff overlooking the Jema River Gorge. One of the tukels was a restaurant/bar where we ordered a tasty Ethiopian lunch. It was a long break but we were kept entertained by the tribe of gelada baboons on a distant rock.
After lunch we took the hiking trail to the stone “Portuguese bridge” which spans a tributary of the Blue Nile just before a 600m waterfall. The sign says the bridge was built in 1500s but a little research suggests that it might actually have been constructed in the 19th century. Still, it is a scenic spot. And there were more geladas to entertain us there.
We continued along the trail to a rocky outcropping where we could look back at the waterfall and down all over the valley. It was a perfect day out – and it didn’t even rain until we were well on our way back to Addis.