Ethiopia January 2014
This past January, I visited Ethiopia to celebrate Christmas in Lalibela and witness the Timket festival in Gondar.
Unfortunately, for many people the name Ethiopia summons visions of famine and starvation, rather than its long interesting history and diverse cultures. I started my trip in the Tigray region of the Ethiopian Highlands. Tigray is famous for its “Cave” churches. These churches are often located up high on the side of cliffs and offer spectacular views. As interesting as the Tigray region was, nothing can compare you for Lalibela at Christmas. Although the churches carved directly out of the bedrock are spectacular, it is the white clad pilgrims and the reverent atmosphere they create that make Lalibela truly special. Although, Timket is also a religious festival it has a much more youthful and energetic atmosphere, filled with singing, dancing, and frenetic movement. My visit to the Omo Valley really demonstrated Ethiopia’s amazing cultural diversity. A visit to the tribes of the Lower Omo Valley is as close to time travel as you can get. The people here are semi-pastor and many live a lifestyle that has not changed in thousands of years. Often the only technology you can see are Ak-47’s and the occasional cellular phone.
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