Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ethiopia Reccie : The Blue Nile

The old bridge over the Blue Nile 

The Blue Nile Gorge the river is in flood due to the rains so a little brown 
There was no way you could get it into a photo the scale and beauty of the Blue Nile Gorge it was something which was a bit to big for a camera to handle. The Great Rift really coming into its own. I visited a the ruins of Tekle Haymonot II and his wife Aster in Gondar. As we passed one ruin the guide said you know Brrrr ‘sorry what was that’ you know ‘brrrrce’ ‘sorry I am not getting it. It turns out a Scot was there living in 1770 with the Emperor called James Bruce from Kinnaird Stirlingshire. He was on a very early quest to discover the source of the Nile. He believed he had found it on picking up the Blue Nile believing that to be the source. Although his logic and accounts from the time where good. It couldn't have been as its in Khartoum where the two converge continuing as the White Nile to Alexandria and the Med but the White Nile starts in Uganda so he was a little out. Despite being a fair bit out on the source he did make a fairly remarkable journey to reach the Blue Nile Gorge. Arriving in Alexandria he set off crossing the desert to arrive in (Jidda) (Arabia) now known as Jedda dressed as a Turkish sailor recrossing the Red sea with the Turks and then onto Gondar two years after he started. An impressive journey. It was also told to me that he got Aster pregnant which would be fairly typical of a wandering Brit although evidence doesn't suggest this. Sadly too prior to his Nile escapades he was very keen on the study of ancient sites through an attachment to the British consul in Algiers he visited Palmyra which yesterday I believe was blown up by Isil. His journey to Palmyra was in itself an impressive feat shipwrecked near Benghazi Libya he managed to swim ashore eventually managing to reach Crete he then traveled throughout the middle east making it to Palmyra. Which it would appear is not there in its entirety now, perhaps something which has gone back and forth for a millennia warring tribes go back and forth destroying and warring. 
A kind of Gretna Services in the North but different but the not bad Sky Bus pictured. 
We stopped on the way at a very rain washed town which I think was called Desil for lunch. The coach driver though seemed to pass up on the Injira and swiftly took at least five beers and large ones at that which was a bit worrying. Once we left there the bus started dropping into the Nile gorge it took nearly an hour of hairpins and narrow sections to reach the bottom. The journey took an extra thirty minutes on account that as we started down the hill a kid through a stone through the window. Rather ironically when I took a seat on the bus I failed to read the seat number which was in Amheryic the man who’s seat I was in got a little tetchy kicking me out and onto another seat. He ended up with a rock and window in his lap which I have to admit to throwing him a rye smile when it happened and we had to alight. The police where less interested in the window once they saw me and instead wanted to examine my paperwork and know what I was doing. I could see that they where angling for something but the paperwork was all in order and the surrounding crowd of onlookers to big to start haggling. 

The scene on the far side of the gorge, it gives some idea of scale, the huge gorge pictured above is in the top right of this image the Ethiopian highlands is a huge landscape. This was after a very long time of winding up hairpins passing trucks similar to the Rho Tang pass in Northern India although nothing will compare to that drive in terms of fearing death at any moment. 
We dropped down into the gorge which opens out as a spectacular river course. A high bridge crossing which looked fairly modern. I had a walk around the edges and down the gorge a bit. Baboons where everywhere and due to the rains everything was bright green and well grown which felt pretty tropical although with the rains the Blue Nile was more of a Brown Nile.

The Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa, total luxury ! 
Back on board it was a few more hours of rain and hail before reaching Addis 18 hours after departing. A quick haggle on arrival and it was off to  the Taitu hotel in the Piazza area which is effectively the centre. The Taitu Hotel is the oldest hotel in Ethiopia and to be honest that would be the first thing you think when you arrive. The Piazza area is a very hectic area and not that easy to relax in. As soon as I arrived at the reception there was a Belgian who was trying to make arrangements after having his bag slashed and everything robbed which never puts me at ease. From there to the room dump bags and head to the restaurant for something eat. The second I sat down a rather stunning lady came and sat down opposite explaining to me  ‘nice englishee boy shouldn't sleep lone’ ah the backpacker area and its joys and temptations. In fact it said specifically on my rooms wall ‘strictly no paid sexing’ the very fact it says that indicates its not poshest of hotels. A bit of a Koh San Road in Bangkok the Piazza area holds all the wrong things to see in a country but quite exciting when your young. I quickly swerved off to join an Israeli who looked like he was just up for dinner and no sexing. A nice guy from Tel Aviv who promptly said ‘my backpacking days are over fancy moving over to Bole area tomorrow to a nice quiet guest house’  ‘yup I'm in’. He was there for similar reasons, a work related trip but couldn't help go and look at where the LP sends backpackers, perhaps it gives you a taste of the good old days when that hassle hustle and bustle was exactly what you wanted. He had been about a bit spending time in India and South East Asia but the last few years in and out of Ethiopia which I have to admit to not believing in but he seemed to pick up on that quickly and never laboured that point. I stayed where we headed on the way out ‘Mr Martins Cozy Place’ a German run guest house which I would highly recommend in the Bole area of Addis. I was tired when I arrived and had a bust foot I also knew exactly what the Piazza area would be like and know exactly what dollar rooms are like but you do have to do the Taitu once for historical reasons if not pleasure.
A round up of some other spots I saw and Ethiopia as a place to visit coming. 

Flying back and a nice ariel view of Lake Turkana as it came came back over Kenya.