Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ethiopia: Gonder, Day 2: God, Gorgora, and Goha

Slept til about 8:00, completed the usual morning ablutions, which included some laundry.

Onion and green pepper omelet and delicious roll for breakfast. Headed out to town around 10:00. Made line to Golden Internet cafe, where I spend (!!!) three hours. Took quite awhile to upload my photos onto Facebook and key in one day's trip report. The thought of staying longer to key in other days' trip reports was too daunting. At 30 cents (in birr) per minute, this cost me 52 birr, or about $3.25.

Was rainy when I emerged blinking from the internet cafe. Stopped under a store canopy, at which point I became the metal to two child magnets. "Hello! Where are you from? Can you change this for me? (holding up an American penny) How long are you staying here?" A few pleasantries are nice, but when it becomes hard to shake them off, even when you walk away, even when you say no, ... it becomes a little tiresome. As it was, I ducked into a cafe, where I had water and macaroni and vegetables. Loved this picture outside the cafe.

I still need to arrange for a bus to Gorgora (on Lake Tana) tomorrow, plus change some money.

Later - I found my way to the tourism office. I asked the young man there how to arrange for the bus to Gorgora and where to find an ATM.

The pirate Tilahun, the hotel manager, will arrange for a taxi to pick me up in the morning, off-load my stuff, and get me on the right bus.

Before sunset, I took a tuktuk (bajaj) up a mountain overlooking Gonder, where presides the Goha Hotel.

We wound up the mountain, passing walkers and shacks that line the road. The driver stopped once and picked up - guess who - the tourism agent! His name is Enoch. He walks up the mountain every evening to watch the sunset.

We chatted while looking out at splendid scenery - all of Gonder, the surrounding mountains and valleys. 

Watched the sun go down. Enoch noted he'd only recently been exposed to jazz, for which he was very happy. He loves Gorgora (where I'll go tomorrow), as it is so peaceful. He says he can just listen to himself, the birds, look at the water (Lake Tana), and sit by a campfire at night.

Enoch is a devout Ethiopian Orthodox Catholic. (It is notable how many times I have been asked if I am Christian.) He said that in the Gonder area, 66% of the residents are Ethiopian Orthodox. He believes people in the country are more devout than those in the largest cities (such as Addis). In the country, he says, one can see from nature how there is a God. If you live in the city, and you have all of the technological gadgetry and machinery, it's easy to believe one is in control of things, thus become disconnected from God.

Enoch gave me the tuktuk driver's number so I could call him after I finish my dinner at the Goha Hotel. Enoch told that the driver is actually a journalist who owns and drives the tuktuk on the side.

When it got dark, I went inside for dinner. Striking architecture - ceiling and roof palapa style with huge Japanese-derivative lanterns handing from ceiling beams. Ceiling is bamboo. Piano music, somewhat loud, in background. Dinner, unfortunately, pretty ordinary. About 50 people in the restaurant; all but one table are American or European tourist.

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