Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

evening at gheralta

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM
I was quite pissed when I've discovered we werent going to stay at the Agoro lodge in Tigray. That was one place I was looking forward to staying as the online pictures showed very pretty quaint rooms, and I even emailed the website to my friends to show off. so I quite made a fuzz about my disappointment.

My other disappointment was that I specifically chose this trip because the itinerary included the Tigray churches. however, we're not going to the ones that were not accessible by car. Most of these rock cut churches sat high on the cliffs, and required climbing through steep hills to reach them. Nonetheless, we've visited 3 in the teka Tesfau cluster, that lied along the Hawzien, the main road between Wukro and Adigrat. These were different from the ones in Lalibela. All were cut into the rock, cave style.

Tigray rock cut churches are older than the ones in lalibela and much more extensive. they were in clusters and the ones in Tembien and Gheralta were not as well known (in fact most tourists dont even know they exist) and much less accessible. One needs to hike for a few hours or days and climb with ropes to reach them. They were built in high isolated remote locations to fend off attackers. I've seen some online images and I'd very much love to visit some of them. however, not this time.

The first one we visited was Adi Kesho Medahane Alem, a cave church. It's accessible by a few minutes easy climb up a big boulder. The interior had some carvings but otherwise not very interesting. The next one, the Wukro cherkos had beautiful wall paintings and the garden with bright green cactus. one can also walk behind it and up the roof which offered wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. next to the church was a family grave and i spotted the grave of a young ethiopian woman who died in a car accident in california and who coincidentally graduated from Hayward State! Abrehawe Asbeha, the last church we've visited in Tigray was the most beautiful one. The exterior was all pink/orange rock and surrounded by pink/orange hills, that resembled arizona. The interior was filled every inch with paintings. I was happy to find the adam and eve naked painting on the side of the main entrance. I first found it online and was wondering if i would visit the church that had this painting. we caught the communion in the church and the women filed in a line to receive the holy eucharist while the men waited their turn.

After the church visit, we drove a short distance to our lodge at Tigray. With all my fuzz about not going to the Agoro, the Gheralta lodge proved to possibly be even better. The rooms were simple in style, and in several spread out stone bungalows. The double rooms were big with 2 windows. however, my single was very small but the bed was a double and the bathroom was clean with very hot water. the view from the window was spectacular with an unobstructed sight of the Gheralta rock mountain, and SmallLeo perched itself in front of it, awestruck.

The lodge is owned and run by an italian who greeted us when we arrived and joined us for the evening meal which consisted of a very good minestrone soup, meat lasagna and green salad with a very nice tiramisu dessert and coffee. The main building offered nice lounge areas with traditional ethiopian chairs, and the outside terrace had lounge chairs with small tables and blankets. the bar had a leopard skin on the wall. There was an american group from the ehtiopian women foundation and we played texas hold'em at the bar. Losers had to do push ups. There's a very good looking young man in the group who is a juggler, and he and I both ended up losing. He did his mandatory 10 push ups while I wiggled out of the punishment. the leader of the group kept telling me I still owed them 10 push ups! After dinner, we pulled the lounge chairs on to the lawn and lied down with blankets to star gaze and exchange stories. We were wondering what the star next to the full moon was. Since nobody knew, I just said it was Jupiter. The evening was cool and quiet, and the stars brilliant which added an extra spark to our stay. It was a very relaxed and enjoyable evening.

Even though at this altitude the mosquitoes were not malaria carrying, I continued to spray the bed and bedding with eucalyptus lemon juice. It has become a nightly routine now.

The lodge had a direct and very magnificent view of the Gheralta mountains, and in the clear morning light the next day, I just stood there to take it all in. maybe the agoro offers more. or maybe less. I'll never know but I liked the Gheralta very much, and the nice evening I had there will remain with me always.


Tigray photos:

tigray

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