West to East Micronesia China Mongolia Russia Baltic Region Visegrad Region Balkan Penninsula East to West Ancient Civilizations Straddling the Straight Southern Africa Eastern Africa Ethiopia United Arab Emirates South Asia Crossing Photo Album Trip Logistics Itinerary Transport Logs Route Maps About Us






Embedded Photos: 1.Queen of Sheba's Palace2-4.Treasures of the St. Mary of Zion Churches
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Ethiopia Flag ETHIOPIA


October 9. AKSUM On our last day in Aksum we met up with the three teachers again and walked through town to visit the other stelae field.  As we passed the weekly market we picked up a group of kids that followed us the entire way, trying to sell us all sorts of souvenirs.  It wAksum, Ethiopiaas Saturday and they didn't have school so there were many more than the day before.  Since there were five of us we were able to keep ourselves a bit insulated with conversation and just did our best to ignore the parade trailing behind us.  When we finally reached the stelae field it was pretty deflating.  There wasn't that much to look at compared to the northern stelae field.  We knew it would be less dramatic but it hadn't even been worth the aggravating walk we had just endured.  The teacher were fairly annoyed as well, which made me feel better.  I figured that if people who live here found this attention intolerable then I couldn't feel bad about guilty about my reaction.  They were earning a pittance on the VOS program and were supposed to get local rates but they frequently had to battle for it. The souvenir selling kids were asking prices for things that were comparable to back home and most of the stuff was junk.  When confronted with a ridiculoAksum, Ethiopiaus price I heard one of the teacher say "You must be crazy! I don't make that much in a month!" Then I saw her plugging her ears and just humming to herself to drown out all of the noise.  The day before they agreed that Aksum was one of the most pleasant towns they had been to in Ethiopia but that was changing. 

Across the street from the stelae field was the Queen of Sheba Palace, some relatively well intact ruins that never belonged to the Queen of Sheba. The self-appointed guide, the son of the caretaker, tried to give us a tour but started to spin such a yarn that we lost interest.  Everything he said contradicted the guidebook.  The best part was that once inside these sites we were insulated from the touts.  A elevated shack stood at the back of the palace so you could overlook the extent of the ruins.  We sought refuge there for a while, talking with the teachers, while the touts beckoned from the bottom of theAksum, Ethiopia stairs.  Before leaving Rob did buy a small thing form one teenaged guy and then told them that was it!  Several kept trailing behind, one rather distraught the he didn't get the business but, according to his peers he was mentally challenged.  

The teachers went on farther down the road to see the old quarries but we were done.  There were a few other sites to see in town, a couple of older tombs and another stone similar to King Ezana's inscription, but we were loosing enthusiasm.  I waited outside while Rob visited the St. Mary of Zion church to see the chapel where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.  Women weren't allowed in the chapel and it didn't sound like the rest of the place was worth the price of a ticket.  Rob was inside for a good half hour.  I tried waiting by the gate but felt like a magnet.  If I stood in one place too long I had someone after me for something.  Even the annoying teenage boys from the Yeha Hotel were lurking about.  It didn't take too long before I'd had it so I went to look at some of the detached parts of the northern stelae field that were outside the fenced area.  I moved fast to avoid people catching up with me but eventually ended up just going inside the fenced area of the stelae field to establish a permanent separation.  Even then a guy came over the fence an banged one of his statues on the pole to get my attention.  It wasAksum, Ethiopia really too much.  As badly as you feel for the impoverished and disabled people, when there are so many people after you a feeling of self preservation kicks in and you just want to get away from it all.  I kept an eye out for Rob and luckily he spotted me when he came out.  He said the visit was interesting.  The church had some lovely paintings and the priests brought out some illuminated manuscripts.  Nobody can go inside to actually see the Ark of the Covenant but there is apparently one priest who devotes his life to keeping watch over the Ark.  He never comes out of the chapel and nobody else can come in until he dies. They just pass his meals into him.  At the end of the tour the priests asked where Rob was from and when he told them they said "People from your country always tip $20." Yeah, right.

We ate at a tourist hotel around the corner from our hotel, the Remhai hotel.  We had been there for drinks on our first night and had both meals there on our last day.  It was sterile and totally uninteresting but it was clean and the food was okay.  I was having gut trouble so eating wasn't a highlight of my day anyway.  It was our third night at the Africa Hotel and it had been fine except for the mosquitoes that invariably found tAksum, Ethiopiaheir way in at night.  The yellow-painted walls had little red blotches all over the place.  They sort of made the place look dirty but it wasn't, the blotches were just squashed mosquitoes that were full of blood when they met their end.  The hotel also had some power problems.  We were looking forward to getting back to the Semien Hotel in Addis. 

ADDIS ABABA Oct 26 Oct 27 Oct 28-29

BAHAR DAR Sept 30 Oct 1 Oct 2 Oct 2-3


LALIBELA Oct 5 Oct 6

AKSUM Oct 7 Oct 8 Oct 9