Friday, January 28, 2011

Ethiopia: Gorgora, Day 2: Gardens and God

Just returned from a lovely walk guided by the hotel gardener. He has worked here for 25 years. He designs and oversees all of the grounds, over which he takes pride of ownership. Teklu is his name. Teklu took me and the British couple to another branch of the hotel, which is crowded with robust red, magenta, yellow, and orange flowers. Plus mangoes, papayas, and oranges. And a vegetable garden with swiss chard, tomatoes, cabbages, and I don't know what else. Tim, the British man, loves to garden in his place in Cornwall. He and Teklu, and to a lesser extent, Liz, shared the names of the various plants. Then Teklu took us to his house where he has a large nursery with cuttings he sells in Gonder and sometimes Addis Ababa. In his nursery, he has chat (aka qat or khat), tobacco, nasturtiums, sage, mint, rosemary, geraniums, selvia, ferns, palms - too many to name. A huge compost pile, as well.

Tim and Liz proposed sending Teklu flower and vegetable seeds, which delighted Teklu, as some seeds are hard for him to come by. Tim and Liz will send, among others, eggplant, lupine, and swiss chard.

Teklu invited us into his house, where he served us each a delicious yogurt (sweet and thick, and a beautiful white, with a texture like pudding) made at home from the milk of the cow just outside the door. He also served us a wonderful, crumbly cheese similar to a feta, sweet and piquant.

On the living room wall was a skull. I asked him about it and he told us it was a hyena skull. This hyena had killed a young child in Gorgora. Teklu asked permission from the government to hunt the hyena. When he received approval, Teklu used a trap to kill the hyena by hanging. Teklu showed us the hyena's pelt, which he keeps in the barn adjacent to the house.

In the afternoon, I walked to the Church of Debre Sina Maryam (c. 1607), housed in a traditional tukul (a roundhouse).

 As with the monastery in Gonder, beautiful paintings. You walk in a circle to the right to view the story of Christ as depicted in the vibrantly colored paintings.

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