Friday, January 8, 2016

Christmas and Genna

We spent Christmas in Addis with a bunch of our PCV friends eating delicious food at one of the fanciest hotels in Ethiopia, the Sheraton. There was sushi; it was glorious. 

We spent Genna (Ethiopian Christmas) with our compound family in Durame. I helped clean two chickens to make doro wat, which was quite the experience! Spencer helped the kids put together a couple palm fronds to make a Christmas tree and then we all made decorations. It was great and our Genna dinner was SO delicious. 

The Simien Mountains

The Simien Mountains are on many tourists’ travel itineraries while visiting Ethiopia, and we’re no different. When Amanda and Matthew came to visit at the end of August, we knew we had to go. Located in the northern part of the Amhara region (very far from where we live!), the mountains are home to many endemic animals and are sometimes referred to as The Roof of Africa.

We visited in the rainy season, which made the views beautiful and green. The downside being that the rain limited our hiking and also some views were obscured by the clouds. When you’re that high up, you literally are walking through the clouds. We took a two-day, one-night trek into the mountains and even though it rained in the afternoons, the mornings were beautiful and clear.

On our second day, we trekked to a lookout point to see a massive waterfall. Our guide said it was over 500 meters tall! A good thing about going in the rainy season: the waterfall was fully flowing.

One of the most famous endemic animals in the area is the Gelada baboon. These furry, monkey-like creatures eat only grass and are so gentle you can walk right up to them. Our tour guide told us they especially like ferenj (foreigners), but I think that’s only because foreigners don’t have crops to protect from them.

We also saw a Menelik’s Bushbuck (I think) and a lot of birds and flowers. It was nice to see all the flowers blooming, which we would have missed had we come in the dry season.

a bushbuck's backside
A trip to the Simien Mountains is expensive (especially for Peace Corps volunteers), but well worth the beautiful scenery and unique wildlife. I think if we went again, we’d stay for longer. We didn’t get to hike much, because of the rain and our limited time. It would’ve been nice to get a couple longer walks in.