Lalibela, Ethiopia


Ethiopian Priest, Lalibela — April 27, 1998


Rock-hewn Church of Saint George ቤተ ጊዮርጊስ, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 27, 1998


Tree overlooking the Bete Giyorgis — April 27, 1998


Two-story huts, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 26, 1998


Amesegënallô — Several Lalibelans enjoy the day, Ethiopia — April 26, 1998


Tunnel entrance to the stone hewn church, Lalibela — April 27, 1998


Our guide, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 27, 1998


Two-story huts, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 26, 1998


Ancient passage, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 27, 1998


Our flower-lined hotel, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 26, 1998


Stairway, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 27, 1998


Secret and sacred passage, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 27, 1998


Bete Giyorgis ቤተ ጊዮርጊስ, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 27, 1998


Jon & Gerhart with “Landy”; their ’64 Defender, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 26, 1998

This photo was taken during a classic moment. As fate would have, Todd and I were taking the long walk bakc from Lalibela along a hot and dusty road. Out of tbe blue, around the bend Jon & Gerhart come putting along in “Landy”; their ’64 Defender. They pull over and we have a chat and take this photo. It is at this moment that Jon & Gerhart highlight the advantages of overland travel with “Landy”, and also the moment when Todd and I realize having a car in Africa would be a great thing. After our chat, the chaps hop back in Landy and leave is in a trail of dust. More to come on this story


Bete Giyorgis, Lalibela, Ethiopia — April 27, 1998

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Ethiopia 1998 Journal

Friday, 17 Apri — Axum

Golly, I’m sitting in this room, the size of the one in Dahab, Egypt (small), and I realize, this ain’t Dahab, this is Ethiopia; and it is an odd number in a string of rooms that I have been staying in for the past month, and I realize that this is backpacker’s traveling and I’m 26 and Peter (from the Netherlands) is 36 and he is traveling too, so it is never too late because Ray from Massawa is 50 and he is here, or was here, too! And today, for the first time, I really felt Ethiopia, ate the food, strolled with the people, touched the woman. And now, I feel a lot more secure in this place. And the shrinking moon is rising as I fade into another Larium induced trance-a-thon all night long.

Monday, 20 April (4:20) — Adi Arikay

So I am sitting here in a pretty crummy hotel in Adi Arikay, Ethiopia, and thinking… this is by far the worst room we’ve ever had. Everything the LP suggests against this room has. Various stains on the walls. Dirty sheets, although, after much complaining, those have been changed and replaced with a double layer (which I am laying on top of now-pink! But you know, for 10 birr a night, including an amoeba infested fungi spectacular shower, I can’t truly complain. Theoretically, it does have running water, and this, again, is Ethiopia, and we have been traveling for three days now on dirt roads. Those bus rides, ah those bus rides. Yesterday was the best physically. Today’s vista wise-was better, but that goat spaghetti I so gracefully consumed last night had fermented and gassified so I wasn’t in the best spirits, but yesterday, the ride climaxed when the rooster in front of us started innocently cock-a-doodle-dooing. It was great.

Well, well, it’s Thursday, and you know what that means…Larium day. So we down yet another in the series of mosquito treatment medications with Ethiopia’s finest mineral water (not Ambo) Bure H20. And I’m thrilled to see what the night brings. (Oh actually, ever since Ray—the-50-year-old-Brit in Massawa said he built an immunity to Larium dreams—I’ve stopped dreaming as much.) Who really knows. It is probably all mental anyway.

Anyway, we made the wonderful journey— by lorry—from Adi Arkay via a 4 hour stop in Zimara to Debark, and this is where we have literally rested for the last three days. Decided not to go Simien hardcore, but caught a ride with some Austrian guide instructors and went into the National Park for the day. Went down a gorge on a new trail. First tourists to do so. Other than that, just been kicking at the Simyen Park Hotel and resting. A minor case of runny bum but that’s OK at least no dysentery yet. Ethiopia is cool, but I got kinda frustrated that other night as the days go by here. Its getting hotter in the other places we would like to go to (Yemen), hella hot, so hot that we may just by pass altogether.

I still hope I make to the Oman.


Friday, 1 May — Addis Ababa

There is a land, far, far away, its called Santa Cruz. Yeah, only in America do they sing romantically about these places — Addis Ababa. Here we are! Not only is today Larium Day, but today May 1st (1 yr from the last Tina + Brian.) But we have reached a lifelong milestone! Addis! OK.

Woke up this morning at the beautiful Ghion Hotel on Lake Tana, and after, a typical African breakfast (eggs, toast, chay) We go to the airport. Until the gunshots of course. And I even ignore the .22 but can’t quite take my eyes off the brownish liquid dripping form the plane’s wing. Oh, here we go again. Take Off. And we are 800’ feet off the ground and we are doing a real sharp turn. And suddenly we’re not going up anymore, hmmm. Ummm. Hey? (Guess we ran out of gas, huh?) Or guess the Larium is working well. Either way, I am praying, and as it turns out, we are 360ing, at low altitude, in a commercial plane just after takeoff to get a good look at this fire gong on below. Nice flight, the landing superb.

And now I am sitting at the Park Hotel ( GPS: 9.029874, 38.755078 ), eating chat, sitting on top of the world looking at Addis Ababa for two hours (or at least 1 and ½.) And I love traveling.

Bedele Beer label
Produce of Ethiopia, Bedele Beer, Bedele Brewery, Ethiopia

Monday, 4 May — the “Buy Breakfast” day

Well, well. Today is one of those every 5 year days. The kind that you don’t get much sleep the night before, because you know the next 24 hours will be full of life/path changing decisions. To top it off, not including a swollen left tonsil, it turns out that we going to be buying a 4x4 car to take down to Cape Town. Holy Shit. I am scared shitless. Of what? I don’t know, but I am nonetheless a bit anxietic. Well, the call to the parents goes better than planned. It seems as though as they remotely understand, as after explaining that East Africa is no where as dangerous as we think. So we attempt to buy in Addis Ababa, on May 4, 1998, two months after a famed Egypt Air flight, a 1980 White Toyota Hilux small truck for an African Overland Adventure, with a rebuilt Ford V6 engine. Your joking, right? No, we are serious here. And to top it all off…
Todd is going to become an Uncle. Big problem.
And then our Neur friend, Bier, asks for “a hundred US” spot. Hmmm.
Oh lord, please let me get some rest tonight. Let my tonsil heal, and let us make it to Cape Town in as few pieces as possible. Amesegënallô. (Thank you.)

Next country: Kenya


Countries visited - Africa 1998 - 1999

Africa route map

Our scehdule

I am not sure how it all got started. It wasn’t a magical spark of lightning that began the cataclysm, nor was it the supreme words of a higher being sending us on our way. Somehow, though, the powers of the universe contrived enabling our journey through the Heart of Africa.

It began quite innocently as an alleged trip to Bulgaria and Romania. This idea was eventually vetoed and placed “on hold” for future girlfriends. Zap—a long awaited spark was kindled—The Middle East: Yemen, in particular. And the visas were applied for, the air tickets purchased; and on a fine March 4th day we were on our way aboard a gleaming Air France 747 en route to Cairo, Egypt, via a five day layover in France.

We never did make it to Yemen, nor the Middle East for that matter; we headed South, instead, into the Heart of Africa, and what follows is the story of events as they unfold.

Egypt Ethiopia Eritrea Botswana Tanzania Madagascar Namibia Zambia Kenya Zimbabwe South Africa Uganda Malawi Mozambique