R2E 2008

Day 1

T’nestalin!

At half two in the morning, we all gathered outside school, sleepy but excited! The gear was dished out and we said our goodbyes to our family before boarding the coach for Teeside. The trip took an hour and a half, but it went really quickly because we were all shattered beyond imagination, a trend which continued for the rest of the day. A few people (Karl and Michael) were embarassly searched, but we all made it through security!

We then got on the plane for Heathrow (I think we all slept because we can’t remember much about it!). At Heathrow we had a really long wait, but a board game of Travel Monopoly helped past the time. We also met Ben, a gap year student who is going to spend the three weeks with us. He is English but he has lived in France for the past five years, he also supports Arsenal. We initiated him into the group with a short game of travel monopoly!

Finally, we got on the plane for Addis Ababa – a ten hour flight stopping off somewhere in the Middle East. We spent most of this time sleeping, watching various films and stealing blankets from the airline.

When we got to Ethiopia we spend about half an hour in the airport sorting out visas and money. As we left we finally got our first taste of Ethiopia it was warmish but apparently freezing for the Ethiopians. We all piled onto a local coach and were scared by the crazy driving. Although it was night, there was a lot to take in, leaving us apprehensive but excited for the following days.

We got to the hotel, dumped our bags in our rooms, and slept. Lots. And lots.

Chow! Andy and Amy

Day 2

Dear Everyone,

After a long flight we were rewarded with a nice lie in till 11.00! This was the first time we saw Addis in the light because we arrived during the previous night. We were straight into the action when we left to do a bit of shopping in Higher Hoolit. This was to practice some of our Amharic and learn some new words and phrases off the locals; the shopping list Mr Griffiths gave us featured many words we hadn’t come across. We were immediately struck by the many differences between our country and Addis. For example the absence of traffic lights created a free for all driving style and the presence of goats on the roads was also quite different.

We got our first experience of proper haggling and how the local shop keepers give you the “foreigners price” first, often three times as much. Despite this we realized that the “foreigners” price was still very, very cheap when comparing it to a similar item back in England.

Obviously we were very noticeable as a group, and attracted lots of interest, some of it taking us aback quite a bit. We were constantly asked by people for money and at first we were not sure how to react. We were told that giving one person one thing would result in many people wanting the same which I (Robbie) discovered when I gave a small girl a sweet. This small girl was very grateful and I was actually joking to the rest of the group that she would probably go and tell her friends…

Which she did. And soon enough I was surrounded by approximately 10 small girls demanding that I would share the joy.

We then went to the National Museum were there was the remains of the oldest found Hominid called Lucy. These fossils were 3.2 million years old and made up the large amount of other fossils on show. The museum also featured Ethiopian art and many artifacts from Ethiopian History including the throne of Haile Sellassie (think that’s how you spell it).

We then popped into a small restaurant for an ice cream and we ordered the Jamaican ice cream. The thinking behind this was that it might be filled with exotic fruits, but it turned out to be vanilla ice cream drenched in rum! Later on that night we went for a meal down the street we had be shopping in the morning. It was called the Zebra Grill and was quite an up market restaurant. These two places seemed like a different world to what was going on in the streets outside; you had clearly well off Ethiopians inside eating good food and drinking wine whilst there were people lying, dying in the street begging for money. The contrast was so huge and also so close together which was the shocking thing.

That was our day in Addis Ababa and it was defiantly an amazing experience which gave us great joy one moment and then made very startled the next.

Bye for now Robbie and Ben

Day 3

We woke up fairly early today compared to the previous day and after our breakfast we set off for the market. We went via bus again and it took a good 20 minutes in which we got a chance to see parts of the city we hadn’t seen before. There was a lot of development occuring in the city but it was always surrounded by tin houses that were right across the city. We arrived at the market and immediately had people surrounding us, “come to my store, come to my store”. After a quick briefing on language we would need such as “wud now” meaning too expensive and “ferenger wagger” meaning foreigners prices we set off to look around. We split into groups and all set off our seperate ways looking for clothing, foods and souveneirs.

In the huge market there was so many different hidden alley ways and completely new market places in which there was all sorts of smells and sights. We used the language we had been told and set about getting the lowest prices we could for things such as traditional scarfs and also kolo, a tasty seed that everyone seems to like. We met back at the bank near the market and were quite a spectical with loads of locals staring at a large gathering of foreigners. The buses were a bit late but we got back to the hotel eventually and had something to eat. The service certainly wasn’t speedy but after about two hours everyone was fed and ready to head off. Our destination that afternoon was a children centre in the populated area of the city. The centre was called the Safe Horizon children centre and was a place were youngsters were able to go to get off the streets and also recieve meals, an education and the chance to be a child. We were told how the centre was set up and funded by an American guy and was entirely dependant on funding from people in Europe and the U.S such as a computer room paid for by a seventeen year old in America. We spent hours playing with the children, talking to them and playing little games. We were all touched by the experience and the children seemed to of had an excellent time with us being there.

At home time for the children we to set off and went to a local cafe which was conveniently right next to a football pitch. Most of the lads and some of the girls began playing with the locals and had a great time with the occasional downpour to keep us cool. The final score was Ethiopia (and Karl) 8 Newcastle (and some Ethiopians) 9 after a good one and a half hours play. After the match everyone met in the bar and we all had dinner which was the traditional enjura containing plates of the enjura bread and an assortment of meats. The overall meal was met with mixed opinions but I thought it was delicious. Pretty soon no matter what people thought the trays were empty and we set off for the hotel, just a short walk form were we were. An early night would certainly be needed after a tiring day and an early start in the morning.

Chris

Day 4

Yesterday we got up extremely early to get a flight to Axum. We were expecting a nice

relaxing flight: there was traditional Ethiopian music playing and the promise of food

(karl:mmmmmmm). Our dreams were shattered, however, when about 50 evangelical Americans

got on. They are in Ethiopia to ‘spread the word of god’…in an orthodox christian

country…hmmmmmmmmm.

Karl: Well, we say our dreams were shattered but they (suprisingly) didn’t manage to get our

food.

Axum is very different to Addis – much more rural. The wildlife even extended to the

airport – there was a dog to meet our plane, running alongside us as we touched down! Axum

is quite small, but bizzarly, was once the capital of the very powerful Axumite empire

(think Roman scale). We got a taste of this history when we visited the Stelae, which are

huge rock monuments to mark the tombs of past leaders. The biggest and most elaborate was

broken, and apparently had never actually stood – it collapsed as they were trying to erect

  1. There was much speculation in the group as to if there was anyone underneath!

We then visited the museum, which housed (some) antiquities found from the tombs. However,

most of it was simply empty cabinets, which our guide seemed to be very proud of!

After trawling through history we felt in need of a good pick-me-up, and what better way to

do it than to have some traditional Ethiopian coffee, made freshly in front of us by a very

patient woman (not sure how she felt about how much sugar some members of the group were

putting in their coffee!).

Now revived, we set out back to our hotel (via a small mountain detour), and the heavens

opened. It absolutely poured! There was literally a wall of rain, and we got absolutely

soaked – especially Amy and Helen, who cleverly had not brought a waterproof or indeed even

a jacket.   According to the locals, it has not rained like that for years. Now what do

they say about taking the weather with you…?

Also, we are getting followed quite a lot by local kids – whenever we stop, they seem to

just appear as if from nowhere. Football is certainly a favourite topic with them – they

all support Arsenal, although after talking to us they seem to like Newcastle! (Apart from

those that talk to Karl, who is a committed Sunderland supporter).

This being our 5th attempt (yes, the power has cut 4 times) we are very glad to have finally

finished this, and look forward to some injura and tibs tonight (karl:mmmmmmm).

Keep reading

Karl and Helen

Day 5

A day in Axum

We started the day with breakfast in the hotel. We then set off on a day walk with a picnic. Our first stop was the Mary of Zion church, which is said to be the keeping place of the Arc of the Covenant. A guide took us into a museum after getting searched with a metal detector, luckly they didn’t find the gun! the museum was full of religious artifacts such as old kings robes and the first bishops staff which was over 1700 years old and could just manage to lean against a wall! Straight after, we took our shoes off and went into the main church which had a giant dome roof which made all sounds echo. When the guide was talking it was hard to hear what he was saying. He then explained that any church in Ethiopia has a replica Arc of the Covenant in it’s centre. He also told us the story of how the real Arc came to rest in Axum. Then, we went to the back of the church where he showed us a book of paintings, showing religious scenes such as the birth and crucifiction of Jesus. The book was over 1000 years old. The second church in that area was a boys only church so the girls waited outside sunbathing. When they came out we were told that guns were raised at Robbie as he stood too close to the Arc!

Next, we walked up a hill to see Eznar’s stone. This stone was found by a farmer who was plowing his field, it has “if you move this you will die” carved in three different ancient languages. It was in a stone hut with a window which everyone could see through apart from Josie as she was too short! However she did manage to see through a shorter window which was found. Further up the hill we found King Kaleb’s Tomb. There wasn’t much there apart from lots of bats which were great to see. We stopped at this point to have lunch.

Once we had re-fuelled we continued up the hill to see the Pouta Holeon Church which, again, was boys only. Not all boys went in so we sat and waited with some children who had followed us. The views from the top were enough to keep us occupied while the boys were entertained. We could hear singing coming from the church. The remains of our lunch were given to the children, which they loved. There was a little girl the a baby boy on her back who was happy to have her photo taken but then demanded 1Birr, another girl begged for shoes.

A while later…the boys returned so we started walking back to the hotel. The whole walk was a full circle. Passing through some streets, children were coming out from all over. There was about 25 children following us for about half an hour!

Once we were back at the hotel after a nice day walk, we got sorted and ate at the hotel. We decided to have a reasonably early night as we had to get up for an early flight to Gondar.

By Josie and Jessica

x x

Day 5

Day 6

Gondar

Today we flew from Axum to Gondar. Our flight was at 11am. We were shocked to see that our plane was a propeller

plane and small compared to the other planes. When we got onto the plane we realised that some of the seats were

broken and held together with tape. The take off was bumpy and people were scared. The whole flight was an hour

and a half, stopping at Laubella first. We took our bags to the Belegez hotel. When we got to the hotel we were

shocked as the rooms were very basic – only every other room had a bathroom and all the rooms had a double bed

for two people to share. We had a very nice meal of pizza and chips at the hotel before being split into 3 groups

to go to the market with a shopping list. One group got supermarket food, another got market food, and the other

got cooking utensils for the mountains. The shopping lists had reasonable prices for the items which meant we had

to haggle to get local prices instead of “forengiewager’ (foreigner price). In the forengie shop, 8 tins of Quaker

oats cost 280 birr which is about 22 pounds. This seems like a lot because at the forengie shops they charge ridiculous

prices for imported english food. We took everything back to the hotel and packed for the mountains – two people had to

share one bag and leave the other bag at the hotel. The electricity going off made this quite annoying. For tea, we went

for a meal at the Circle Hotel down the road and were there for ages because of the tempremental electrcity and the food

taking AGES to come. It took a while to decide what to have since half the items on the menu they didn’t have. After the

meal we headed back to the hotel and some of the lads encountered “Jesus Christ” – a very drunk and interesting Ethiopian.

Everyone was tired and wanted to go to bed but “Jesus Christ” became aggressive towards Emma and Sarah when they asked him

to leave. By this time, it was about half 11. We all went to bed and straight to sleep because we had an early start the

next morning – off to the mountains!

By Lauren and Lucy

Day 6

Day 7 in Ethiopia

Having only spent a number of hours in Gonder, our day started early at 4:30 am for our long trip to the mountains.

We were due to set off at 5, with all our bags ready to go, but we were made to wait until 5:30 when the bus finally arrived.

Once we were on the bus, our journey began but for a short stop in the town to collect our order of bread for the days away.

Enjoying warm fresh bread for breakfast, our travelling once more underway, we settled for the long journey, most of us asleep.

Making Debark by about 10 am, we stopped for more food, coffee and water. At this point we registered with the Simien National Park authorities and picked up our guide and scouts.

Climbing out of Debark on a very bumpy dirt road we passed into the National Park. Within half an hour of doing this we stopped once more to catch our first sightings of the Gelada Baboons.

The entire group enjoyed this brief first encounter with the famous primates of the Simiens.

Our journey continued to the first campsite of Sankobar, with a sighting of feasting vultures amongst much other wildlife.

On arrival, we set up camp in the clouds above 3100m, trying to glimpse the stunning views between heavy mist and clouds.

More menial jobs followed, such as collecting water from the nearest taps, and cooking the first meal in the mountains.

The exotic pasta and tomato sauce was just the job for the chilly climate. Whilst playing football and frisbee with the guide and scouts kept us warm for a while.

As the temperature dropped after the sun went down, the guards began a roaring fire that would keep them warm all night and drank coffee to keep them up.

For those fortunate enough, we dived into our tents and sleeping bags for an early night to awake early once more the next day.

By Marek Soanes and Michael Nattrass

Day 8

We woke up at 6:30 to a warm bowl of porridge and sugar made by some lucky people who got up at 6. We had a choice between thick and really thick. Yumm! After the porridge we packed up all of our stuff and the tents. For some it was their first time packing up tents. The porters took our bags, weighed them and put them on the mules. This took a little longer than it was supposed to so we set off at about 8:30.

Unfortunately the weather was rubbish so for a long time all we could see was mist. We stopped off at the edge of a cliff to see a waterfall and although it took a while for the mist to clear, the view was brilliant. We then had a choice betwween going straight up a very steep hill which would be tiring but quick or take the road around which wold be long and only a little bit easier. We split up into two groups and met at the top. At ther top we were surprised to see Richard and Dan running out of the mist towards us. We then walked for a couple of hours in conditions varying from extreme cold to boiling. At lunchtime we crossed a small river in glorious sunshine to eat our packlunches bought from the ferengi shop. It was really tasty, sandwhiches included jam, chocolate spread, canned beef, laughing cow cheese and marmite.

After a tasty lunch we set off again in good weather and spirits. Camp was only a few hours away now. Some people broke off to get there early and set up tents before the rain. This group also managed to get their hands on several bottles of dashen from a particularly entrepeneuring local. They set up most of the tents just in time for everyone else coming, just avoiding the rain. As soon as everyone else was back, chopping began for tea; on the menu was curry and rice, although the curry was really just vegetables and a tiny bit of curry powder. It was still really tasty and just what we all needed after a full day of walking.

After it went dark the scouts set up a fire and we made popcorn. It was a cold night but the fire kept us warm(ish), although nobody could stand the smoke for long. We went to bed at about 9 because we were all shattered from the walking and a very early start.

Amy and Andrew

Day 9

This was our third day in the mountains, and we enjoyed a later start whilst waiting for the weather to clear (it never did).

After the usual porridge a brave few walked to Imet Gogo in hope of the best views in the Simien Mountains. After walking for over two hours uphill in the rain, the group did manage to see the most amazing clouds ever, but unfortunatley, no view. However, we did have the leaflet with us to show us what we were missing.

Returning from the walk, we peeled off our wet clothes and started an early fire. An expedition group was also formed to get some eggs from Geech village (porridge having become too grim a prospect for the next morning). Their bargaining skills were unfortunately not the best in the world, and the first eggs they bought were 2 birr per egg, only to find the next lot were 1 birr per egg!

Having charged half the price for his eggs, the boy then invited the group into his hut for coffee. The eggspedition group all agreed that the hut was amazing inside – much bigger than its outward appearance (like the Tardis) – and very warm given that it had a thatched roof and mud walls. The woman inside gathered the group around the fire and proceeded to make the most eggcellent coffee. She picked out some beans, washed them and then roasted them over the fire – the smell was absolutely delicious. She then ground them in a flask and poured them into a kettle over the fire with water and a ton of sugar. It tasted amazing; sugar with a hint of coffee.

Suitably refreshed, the group then returned to camp to find that that night’s sheep had been picked out. Being a rather bloodthristy bunch, the group gathered excitedly to watch the sheep being killed by the guards, and then gutted. Those squeamish stop reading now. It was quite disgusting – there was lots of blood and the intestines kept wriggling in their plastic bowl long after they had been taken from the sheep. The guards took the organs to make into a suitably disgusting looking broth, whilst we took the more appestising bits. Ashleigh, Micheal and Helen then perfected their butchering skills by basically hacking the steaming meat from the bones and tendons, until it began to resemble the stuff you find on plastic trays in the supermarket, whilst Ben, Lucy and Marek opted for the more gentle task of chopping vegetables for the stew. After a long two hours of cooking, we enjoyed a brilliant sheep stew (complements to the chefs – us!), and then settled down to watch a fantastic lightening display. It was coming from all around and was so bright that at some points it illuminated the camp as if it was day. Better views than we had enjoyed all day!

Helen and Ben

Day 10

Chris and Robbie

Our last day of trekking in the Simiens began with a feast of a breakfast- all the remaining porridge made with powdered milk and also eggy bread and omelete which we named “The Geech Omelete”.

After the best breakfast of the past few days, we packed up and left for our final day trekking. We split into two groups; one group headed back toward Imet Gogo where we had been the day before and the other took the direct route back to Sankobar, our campsite for that night.

We headed back in the direction of Imet Gogo to a place called Saha hoping to see some spectacular views, but all we got was the all too familiar fog/clouds. We kept ourselves sane through the infuriating mist by receiting Bill Bailey “The laminated Book of Dreams, to catch the tears of joy…” Nevertheless we did encounter some more Gelada Baboons in the mist and soon enough we had bailed and caught up the other group. In between meeting the others we had passed through Geech village where we briefly visited the school and football pitch which was marginally better than Wigan’s last season. For our dinner we stopped at the river we passed on our way to Geech campsite. To cross the river some of us had to take off our shoes and wade across the river whilst the others risked jumping from rock to rock. It wasn’t long after our dinner when we caught up with Emma and Richard who decided to play a little prank on us by building another person from Richards bag and coat, pictures coming soon. We continued walking with them for a while but then the bus offering a lift back to the camp emerged from the mist. As we were going down hill at the time nobody was tempted to board the bus. However to tempt us further the bus was waiting at the bottom of a huge hill and all the adults got on.

Not to let them get away with it we tried to block the bus from passing with rocks but obviously we had no chance of succeeding. Instead we raced the bus up some of the hill, not easy at 3500 metres. Some of the group managed to keep up with the bus and managed to make Richard feel guilty enough to get off. His excuse was that he only got on the bus so he could film us further up, liar. Sarah and Emma stayed on the bus for a while longer and got off even further up the hill. However after being taking over by us again they got back on the bus along with some others.

What started as a walk, soon turned into a race which would not have looked out of place in the Tour de France; There was mini sprint stages against the rival Ethiopians with Marek winning the Green Jersey. Helen claimed the Polka Dot Jersey for the hill stages but going into the final stretch there was still no clear winner. The peleton of Marek, Andy, Helen, Chris and Robbie were all getting twitchier by the second worrying who would make the breakaway. Approximately 100m from the end Robbie shouted “Breakaway!” and sprinted to the finish to claim the yellow jersey. After the race all the riders were ridiculously tired due to the intensity and high altitude of the race. Even though it was freezing we were all sweating and decided to take a shower. It was certainly the most picturesque shower we had with an open view into the surrounding woodlands and a waterfall nearby, however the water straight from the mountain spring was icy cold but worth it.

The tents were all set up when we got back from the showers so we had time to set up our things before tea. Tea that night was very spicy and after we had ate we were treated to a performance from the guards, shoulder dancing and singing. We all had a great night but were very tired after three days walking and had 3 people in a 3 man tent= decent nights sleep.

Chow

Day 11

Return of the hotel:

We finaly woke up on our last day in the mountains at 7:00am.

We packed our tents up and looked hard for Amys camera – which turned out to be in her pocket :s.

At 8:39, we left Sankobar camp to go and see the baboons with Heidi –

an Ethiopian student who was studying them., only to find out that they were asleep.

No wories – we went to see a diferent group.

They were all scared of us and kept running away :(. However we got some good photos.

The drive back from the mountains took 5 hours but seemed a lot longer.

We had breakfast at Debark halfway back. Once back at the hotel, we were all fighting for showers becasue only half of the rooms

had showers. The hotel seemed like a 5 star having been in the mountains for the past 5 days!

After showers, we were given time to ourselves to socialise with civilisation again.

In the evening, we went to a posh hotel called Goha for drinks. It was on the top of a hill overlooking Gondar. The views were very good.

There were two big letters facing Gondar which reminded us of the Hollywood lettering and a viewpoint where we got some good photos of the group.

After this, we went for a meal in a local restaurant which seemed so nice because we did not have

to cook (in rain and fog) for once! It wasn’t too long after that we were fast asleep in bed :). Happy days!

Karl and Dan.

Day 12

This morning we got a flight from Gondar to Bahir Dar on another propellar plane. On the way to the airport we stopped off

at the hospital to have a look at the playground which was made by Ryton Comp in 2005. However, it is not open anymore, which

is a shame. There used to be a man that used to visit his father in hospital who would let people in to play, but he does

not go anymore. Once we were at the airport we checked in most people played cards. The flight only lasted twenty minutes.

When we touched down in Barhir Dar we got a coach to our hotel which is called the Ghion. The streets in Bahir Dar are much

quieter than other places we have been to, in our opinion. We got together for a drink before we set of to centre 2.

When we arrived at centre 2, all of the Children from centre 1 also, welcomed us with a nice song. They all came to shake our hands and introduce themselves. next they performed a drama about being a street kid and what it is like to clean shoes for

the richer people. It was funny, even though it was in Amharic and we were impressed with their talents! It was great to meet

everyone for the first time! One lady made coffee for everyone and we were all talking for a while and getting to know the

children. We headed back to the hotel later and got sorted in our rooms. We had dinner in the hotel garden along with the

monkey which is always hanging around. The food at the hotel is nicer than the other hotels we have been to especially the

french toast! The first day was a good experience of a different place and we are looking forward to the rest of the week

here.

By Josie and Jessica .

xx

Day 13 – Thursday

Early start – half 7. we had breakfast in the hotel and then most of the group headed to Delchibo – the school we are doing our project on. 4 members of the group and Emma went to the market to buy cleaning materials – mops, buckets etc.

When we arrived at the school the children were in the class room that we were surposed to be working on. All of the childen helped us move the desks and chairs out of the rooms, so that we emptied 5 class rooms.

The classrooms were dirty, dark and had been uncleaned for 27 years, same as the furniture. Some of the group started cleaning down the desks, benches and chairs. Underneath the benches we found lots of spiders, spider’s eggs and cobwebs. It took a long time to try and clean the tables etc. At the same time the rest of the group were watching down walls with a hose, dusting the floors, getting rid of the cobwebs from the windows, ceilings and around the doors. It took until dinner time when all of those jobs were finished. We had our dinner on the grass on the school grounds then got to work with painting. We started painting on 3 rooms. We decided that every room was going to have 2 cream walls and 2 other colours of our choice. The colours for the 3 rooms were blue, green and turquoise. By the end of the day we had finished painting the 2 coloured walls in each of the 3 rooms.

On the way back from the school to our hotel, some on the boys got in a tuck tuck, they decided to go around the road twice to spend more time in the tuck tuck – this is a taxi that looks like a tent on wheels.

We had a very exciting night planned because it was Ashely’s and Kat’s last night in Bahir Dar – these are two girls that have been working in the day centers for 4 weeks. Richard arranged for shoulder dancers to come to the hotel, and he had also planned a buffet for us. The shoulder dancers made everybody dance even though some people were reluctant to get up. It was very funny and really good fun when everybody was tring to shoulder dance.

After the shoulder dancing we all went ourside to the bar – which looks over the beautiful lake Tana. We all sat around the fire and the Dj played music! Everybody didn’t stay up late because Kat and Ashley had to catch a 10 hour bus journey to Addis at 3 in the morning.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEEFY!!! miss you, love from Lauren & Jess!

By Lucy & Lauren

Friday 25th – Day 14

Day 2 of the project

Today was a bit different. We split into two groups and did different things. One group went to centre 2 with Sarah to teach the children english, do some crafts and play games. The other half of us carried on with the school project, painting and finishing off some of the rooms. It was a very hot day. The rooms took a bit of paint to cover the walls as they were in such a bad state but once it all started to come together we were all pleased! Everyone from centre 1 came to help, which was nice. We all had fun at the same time as working hard to make a difference! The children who were at school kept coming in to have a peek or to help and they all seemed very happy with what we had done. I halped Emma put furniture back together with screws, which proved to be harder than I thought! The electrics were done by Andy, who did a smashing job!

For lunch we had banana sandwhichs and we gave the spare bits to some school children. After painting the walls in 5 classrooms, all that was left to do was to move the furniture back in and put the black boards up. After a hard days work we finished off and made our way back to the hotel.

The other group had a great time getting to know the children at the centre. We all met up at the bar next door to centre 2 for a drink. We looked for somewhere to eat and found a nice spot near by which was outdoor. That idea soon turned bad as the clouds got closer, so we moved on. Just around the corner there was a lovely restaurant where we settled. When we got our drinks, the waiter opened the bottles behind his shoulder with a bottle opener. The rain came down from the heavens like nothing I have ever seen before! It lasted for hours! We decided that it would be a good idea to wait until the rain died down. Meantime, when I went to use the squat toilet, there was a chiken/bird in the corner, which came as a suprise, in some ways.

When we left, it was still raining. We went back to the hotel and some of us went shoulder dancing with Richard, Emma, Sarah and Andy. It a great fun but the bar was tiny so all of us would not it anyway. The atmosphere was great and we never stopped dancing. I LOVE shoulder Dancing!

The night ended at about 12. We met the others at the hotel, then headed to bed.

By Josie

Day 15

Today started off with a lot of rain as we had breakfast, which threatened our plans to go to the Blue Nile Falls. That would have been a shame, because the kids from centre 2 had been really looking forward to coming with us. So after the rain stopped and we found out the rain hadn’t been so bad near the falls, we decided to go ahead with our plans.

So we all finished off our breakfasts and put on our least favourite clothes as we were going to get very muddy. We all boarded the bus with the kids from Centre Two and to pass the time they sang traditional Ethiopian songs, while we sang football hooligan songs back at them. It sounded like a rowdy bar/market place. The poor bus driver!

It took us about an hour to get there, and when we got there of course we were charged firengi prices to get in, but we began the ascent anyway. On the way up, lots of children from the village approached us, trying to sell us things and offering us help to cross the mud, at a price. It took us about twenty minutes to get to our first view, which was fantastic. Unfortunately, lots of people fell over on the way! There had been talk that the falls wouldn’t be as good thanks to the hydroelectric power plant, but that was definitely not the case.

After viewing the falls from a distance, we decided to get closer. To do so, we had to wade through a river. Lots of locals tried to sell us sticks to help us cross, but Richard was prepared and brought a rope. In pairs, we managed to cross over, getting very wet and muddy on the way – the river was up to our waste and the current was strong. The funniest part was when one of the local kids decided to strip down naked and use the rope to cross in the opposite direction. The look on Sophie’s face as a naked child came running towards her as she crossed over the river was hilarious! But if we thought we were wet then, it was nothing compared to when we finally arrived at the waterfall.

After the river, some people decided to go local and not put there shoes on; bad idea. The ground was thick with mud and covered with colourful faeces. Lovely. When we got down to the waterfall, some people decided to go right under, while others even climbed up on the rocks next to it. From the top it looked like the air might be a bit moist from the spray, but there it was like we were in a monsoon. Needless to say we got absolutely soaked.

Then Fikeru started a mud fight, which didn’t make much of a difference as we couldn’t get much worse. Or could we? …Yes, yes we could.

On the way back up to the top someone decided to slide down the hil of mud on their feet. They quickly fell over and got quite muddy. This sparked the thought that “If I’m a little bit muddy, I might as well get very muddy” (It made sense at the time). So he decided to slide down on his front. That caught on very fast and in the end there was four ferengis rolling about , caked in mud, whilst the locals sat and watched, amazed at our stupidity. When all the fun had been had with the mud we made our way back up to the top, threatening to give people hugs, nobody wanted one surprisingly. After a lot of photographs and videos had been taken of the waterfall and the muddy people, we headed for the boat to take us back to the hotel. Nobody tried to sell us scarves anymore, not after we asked to try them on. The way back was very muddy, no problem for some, and it took a while to navigate the endless marshy fields. We came to a river and had to take a boat across, the muddied people were made to wash down with river water before sitting on an isolated side of the boat. After everyone had crossed we were almost charged ferengi prices but we argued that we were students so only the teachers paid the full price. The muddy people decided to fully wash themselves down using river water on the other side, some locals joined in splashing them with tubs of water, it was no easy job. In the end we gave them ten burr for their troubles. We got back to the bus and yet another round of Ethiopian vs. English music ensued, even better than the last.

Back at the hotel we had the best showers we ever had, perhaps only coming second to the ones we had after the mountains. We ordered some food, not realising we were going to have a massive meal in about an hour at the two year anniversary party for Centre 1.

We made our way to the party, where there was a buffet of injera and tibs. All the kids were really excited, and we showed them our pictures from the antics at the Blue Nile Falls, which made them laugh.

A mesenko player and a drummer started playing music, and a lot of shoulder dancing followed. At first the dance floor was quite empty, but as the night went on, everyone got into the swing of it. The kids found our terrible dancing hilarious, and tried to show us how to do it properly, only making it worse. It was a really good night, and it was great to see the centre reach the two year mark. The party finished off at about 7:30, so we headed back to the Ghion for a few Bevvies. WWEEEEYYYYYY.

By Andrew and Amy

Day 16

Today we had a later start, with most of the group getting up at 9, but some not emerging until 11! It was a free day, but some of the more energetic souls chose to go on a cycle ride to the palace. The hired bikes were in true Ethiopian style – no breaks and faulty gears! The palace was about 6k away from Bahir Dar, down a very rough track which posed a problem for the sub-standard tires (and the boys who could not help themselves but show off their wheelies) and resulted in lots of punctures.

The palace itself was a bit of an anti-climax, especially after the Tour-de-France style climb. Some members of the group thought it looked a bit like a ’60s style apartment block – and they weren’t wrong. Unfortunately, the palace itself was off limits to us ferengis, but the view from the top of the hill was pretty good, and the ride back down the hill was even better! Lack of breaks meant that we were just forced to absolutely bomb down. Shame.

After returning from the ride, some members of the group fancied yet more cycling, so went for a crazy ride through the streets of Bahir Dar to seek out a fabled pool at the Papyrus Hotel. We were the only ferengis in the pool, with lots of bemused Ethiopians looking on.

After tea at the Ghion, some of us went to our friend Fikeru’s playstation house, where many hours of fun were had. You can take the boy away from the playstation, but you cant take the playstation out of the boy!

Day17- Monday 28th

Many of us got up early to go and visit Samatcho, a kid from centre one, who was training in his wheelchair at the local stadium. He hopes that one day he will be able to compete for his country at the Paralympics and we believe he can because we could barely keep up with him running along the road. Those that were there witnessed an amazing sunrise over Lake Tana and then went back to the hotel with Samatcho to get some breakfast before everyone else joined us.

That day we split up into two groups again and whilst some of us went to Del Chibo to get as much painting as they could possibly do, the rest of us went to Centre 2. At centre two we were helping the kids with their English through drama. We started with Chris reading a story to us and the kids, and then had to split into two groups and make a small drama from what we had heard in the story. The story was about two monkeys and you can therefore imagine everyone was itching to play the monkeys so they could run around. After about 30 minutes both groups had finished their dramas and when waiting for everyone to get together we had a game of wink murder which the kids hugely enjoyed. After about 20 minutes of wink murder everyone got together and we watched the plays we had put together. The kids used as much English as they could during the play and although both plays were good we reckoned ours was better.

The original plan for the afternoon was to join the other group at Del Chibo but because they did so well we were not needed to go and instead had a free afternoon. After chilling out for a couple of hours we then went to centre one were we were interviewing the new students coming to the centre. We were split into pairs and were given a student to talk to as well as a translator, which was usually one of the kids from the centre, because the new students’ English was not great. We all had a good long talk to them and heard about their horrific stories. Some of the kids were around our age and younger which made what they were telling us so much harder to hear. Afterwards we went to a local bar and shared all the stories we had heard. Everyone was shocked at what so many of the children had told us.

That night we left the teachers and went off with Fikeru to an Italian restaurant called Obama’s. We all had plenty to eat with huge pizzas and plenty of chips and it was the first time in a while some of us had eaten “Forengie” food. We also had the chance to listen to some old classic tunes for the first time in ages and we were all singing along to the BeeGees. Afterwards we went out for a quick drink in a local place and then returned to the hotel for an early night.

Robbie and Chris

Day 18

Del Chibo Completed

Once again we did not get a lie-in L. One group went to Del Chibo at around 9-00 to get started on painting the last few walls cream. It didn’t take as-long as we had thought it would, we had all 10 rooms painted and finished on time.

The second group went to Day Centre 2 to help with the students English for their activities they helped produce a drama that gained skills for the students that can help in the future.

We finished the painting at 11-00 to find that we had a free afternoon, since there was nothing really to do at the Ghon hotel after we had some lunch we all decided to go to the nearest swimming pool which was at another hotel around the corner called the Papyrus Hotel we were there by half 12 it was very hot and nice and relaxing most of us went in to the pool whilst some of us sat reading our books etc. It was a nice relaxing day for the effort that had been put in to finishing the school on time.

At 3-00 in the afternoon we were instructed to go and get some small presents from the local market and local shops for the new students that were coming in to the centre the next day. We were sent of in small groups with one item needed it only took us an hour to get all of the presents.

That afternoon/evening was very smooth and relaxing with nothing to do we had dinner at the Ghion Hotel and headed off to bed for an early night as we had to be up early the next day to go and see the hippos on Lake Tana.

Written By Dan And Karl

Day 19

Today was an early start. We all got up and sorted for 6:00am ready for a boat trip to see some hippos on Lake Tana. Once we got to the spot, we saw one hippo, which we were watching for a while and we got quite close. On the way back we stopped off at a monastery. We got to see some religious artefacts which were all about 900 years old! Still early, we headed back to the hotel for some breakfast and a chat about the days plans. The first thing was to visit Del Chibo school to open it officially. When we arrived we added some final touches to the paint. One of the Ethiopian teachers taught us a lesson along with the children about the different cultures in Ethiopia. We were shocked to have a lesson with about 60 students in one classroom. Next, we were treated to a coffee ceremony with popcorn and bread, which was made without an oven. The head teacher spoke about the school and their appreciation for our work and then we got dancing. We started with some traditional shoulder dancing encouraged by the children from centre 1. After a long dance we ended up teaching everyone the hokey kokey. On our way out of the school ground one of the wires burnt down, making lots of smoke! We then headed back to the hotel where some people got ready to go to the ice cream shop and a mini pool tournament in teams of two. Everyone was meeting at centre 2 at 2:300pm. The plan was to play rounders but it was raining too hard so that was cancelled! It would have been fun playing with over 40 people! Instead we went to the bar next door to centre 2 for a drink and presented the 14 new students with a gift bag, filled with stationary and clothes etc… After that, we made a big game of musical chairs, which was mayhem but fun. Everyone enjoyed the afternoon spent with eachother for the last time.

The meal for tonight was at a posh hotel which was a celebration for Amy’s birthday and a farewell meal for leaving Ben, Angela and Sophie. A surprise for Amy was the two cakes that she received to share out. While everyone was in a party mood we moved on to a local shoulder dancing bar which was great fun. Everyone was dancing all night and having a great time. The night ended at 1:00am in ‘Dream house’ which is a foreign [English] bar. The music was the best we’d heard for a long time. At midnight we asked the DJ to play Stevie Wonders ‘Happy Birthday’ for Amy!

The whole day was fantastic!

By Josie and Jessica

x x

Day 20

Last day in Bahir Dar

Amy’s Birthday! Breakfast at 8. Our flight to Addis was at half 1 so after breakfast we packed our bags and then had a relaxing morning around the hotel, except from Helen and Chris that visited a local hospital. At half 11 we got on the bus with all of our bags and went to the centre to say bye to Angela, Sophie, Fikeru and all of the centre children. When we got there they were all waiting for us. We were there for about 15mins, we said our goodbyes and then headed to the airport for our flight. When we got to the Airport our flight was delayed so we didn’t get on the flight until half 2. The flight was a bit bumpy but overall fine. When we got to Addis we got a bus to the Yonas Hotel. We found our rooms, put our bags down and headed off to the British Embassy and met the British Ambassador for Ethiopia. To enter the embassy we had strict security checks where cameras were confiscated and passports were checked. We got invited into his house, it was very posh and when we were in there we didn’t feel like we were in Ethiopia. We had proper English tea and cake, and the Ambassador talked to us about his job/career and the work of the foreign office. We then had a chance to ask questions. The compound had stables, golf courses and tennis courts which we got the chance to look around. By this time, everyone was very hungry having not had time to have lunch, so we went back to the hotel to get ready to go out. We had an hour to get ready and relax before we went down the street to a restaurant which sold cheese burgers and chips – this is what most people had. Everyone had signed a card for Amy so after our meal we gave it to her and everyone sang happy birthday. We had planned to go out for some traditional shoulder dancing to celebrate Amy’s birthday in style, but everyone was too tired so we decided to leave it until tomorrow night and went back to the hotel, everybody sat up for a while then headed off to bed to catch up on some sleep.

By Lucy & Lauren

Day 22

Today we got given a nice lie in – we just had to have our bags ready for 11. After our bags were sorted, we got a minibus to various tourist shops and a market.

The first shop was supporting Ethiopian women in danger, and had quite a lot of nice souvenirs for cheap prices. Even better, the prices were set so we didn’t have to haggle and weren’t ripped off.

Then we had a quick coffee break and then moved on to our next stop, which was a street full of tourist shops. They were all full of the usual scarves, jewellery and pots and we managed to spend a lot of money here.

After about an hour there, we moved on to the market, which was full of clothes and the occasional spice stall. So with our purses lighter, we headed back to the hotel and filled up our bags with our new purchases.

Then we had a presentation of awards in the hotel – ranging from most charva saying of the trip to filthiest person to meet the Ambassador.

Next, we went to a Habisha restaurant for our final taste of Ethiopian food and our last chance to see some shoulder dancing. It was a good night, but after we returned to the hotel it was just waiting for the bus to get to the hotel so we could go to the airport. The bus picked us up about 12, and that’s when our diary ends. Overall, we had a really good last day in Ethiopia!

Andrew and Amy

 

 

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