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.
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.
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.