Egypt     Gorilla Trek

Sudan and Ethiopia

11/15/06 - 12/1/06

We planned to travel overland from Aswan, Egypt across Lake Nasser and through the Sudanese desert to Khartoum. Our plans were thwarted when the Sudanese government stalled so long on our visa that we missed the ferry. Instead, we flew from Cairo to Khartoum and spent a few days relaxing while our truck suffered through a terrible night on the ferry and several rough days digging the truck out of the Saharan sands.
After Sudan, we passed through western Ethiopia en route to Kenya. Everything Sally Struthers taught us about Ethiopia is either an outright lie or limited to the deserts in the east. Western Ethiopia is a lush and beautiful farmland. Unfortunately, the roads are so bad that getting all the food out of the farms and to the deserts in the east doesn't work so well. News to us was that the Ark of the Covenant passed through the churches of Lalibela and is now stored nearby in Axum. You're just not allowed to see it. But it is there. Really. Somebody call Indiana.


Getting in was near impossible. Once there, we couldn't find much to do. But the people we met nearly made up for all the trouble. Without a doubt, Sudan is full of some of the nicest people we've met on our travels. One night, I headed to a cemetery on the edge of town where the local Sufi population held a celebration of the dead. About 3,000 people showed up and contributed all kinds of dance and music. It was a mix of whirling dervish, slam dancing, Southern Baptist gospel and Rastafarianism all happening at the same time.

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On the Road in Ethiopia

Our travels in Ethiopia took us from Gonder in the northwest, past the island monasteries of Lake Tana, the rock hewn churches of Lalibela, a few nights in a brothel in the capital of Addis Ababa and finally through pit-stop towns on the way to Kenya.

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Rock Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia

Some guy in the 12th century thought it would be a good idea to carve a few churches out of volcanic rock. Within a hundred years, 11 churches connected by a series of tunnels and gorges were carved into the hillsides of Lalibela. One church has a carved wooden box said to have carried the Ark of the Covenant when it passed through Lalibela on its way to Axum. Another of the churches has a central pillar covered in cloth for 800 years. Underneath, it is said to tell the story of the beginning and end of the earth. But you can't look because that would spoil the surprise.

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