Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ethiopia: Last Day in Gonder: The Market, Gold, and God is Calling

Call to church services awakened me. About 6:00 a.m. At first the sound - the prayer chant - seemed to come from across the street in the Royal Enclosure, but then it seemed as if someone set up a sound system and broadcast the message right into my room. I eventually surrendered and arose around 7:00 a.m.

Walked up to the lodge's terrace for breakfast: a good baguette; warmed, thick, 24-carat honey; a Spanish omelet; fresh, thick mango juice; and coffee.


Selected some clothes to be laundered and handed those off, then hand-washed a blouse and pants in the bathroom sink.

Met Belay at 10:00 at the bakery next to the Golden Internet Cafe. He took me down to the open market.

He pointed out interesting things throughout. For example, if a plate is hung by the door of a house, this means you can buy a meal there. A can propped over a post means you can buy the local alcoholic beverage there. We saw a cow being butchered; the entrails soaked in a large plastic bowl. A man buying a rooster bargained the price from 67 birr to 56 birr; he carried the colorful, drooling bird away by its feet. Belay took me into a teff seller's store and showed me the "white bread" version versus the whole-grain version. As we walked by many stalls, we smelled rye, anise, lemongrass, cumin, coriander, and other herbs and spices.

On another front, I asked Enoch yesterday about the possibility of other tourists interested in sharing a minibus to Lalibela. Flying from Gonder to Lalibela is prohibitively expensive for me, and the alternative is an arduous trip via the very inexpensive public bus, requiring arriving at the bus station at 4:30 a.m., pushing one's way through a mad crush, and squeezing into a crowded bus and hoping luggage and pockets didn't get plucked. Last night, Enoch found a German couple interested in sharing a minibus. Yay! Not cheap, but way less expensive than flying.

We arranged that I'd pay my share to Enoch today. So after the fun morning visiting the market, I walked up to Landmark Hotel, where Enoch was visiting his friend, whose name I forget. We took care of financial matters, then I had lunch at the hotel's restaurant.

Landmark Hotel's cafe - in a hilltop, woodland area, overlooks a roundabout. While awaiting my meal, I listened to a quite good country music album being broadcast by the restaurant; Enoch's friend later told me it was Don Williams.

Enoch (left) and friend
OK, so later, Enoch, his friend, and I went up to Goha Hotel for the view and to watch another wedding reception. Loved it! Men on horseback, cultural dancers, live music. I even signed the bride and groom's wedding photo!

The three of us walked down the long mountain road, in the dark, back into town, then Enoch and I had dinner at the Golden Gate Restaurant. Again, loud music; dark interior.

Ah, and the Lodge du Chateau owner had told me another couple wanted to share in the minibus to Lalibela, which was great because it would reduce my and the German couple's cost.

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