Together with his family, Atharva visited Ethiopia with Village Ways and was kind enough to send us a wonderful account of his trip. Atharva relished getting under the skin of village life in Ethiopia, and was rightly fascinated by the amazing history of these places.
We thank Atharva so much for taking the time to write to us, and to his parents for giving us permission to post his story and their evocative images from the trip.
"I was excited when my Mum and Dad told me about our trip to Ethiopia in the Diwali vacations. Dad told me the significance of visit as it is a land of origin and the oldest human fossil is found there, and also it is a country that has never been colonised, so you can experience a culture which is largely the same as many centuries ago.
On 30th October 2016,we landed in Addis Ababa, and enjoyed local sight seeing, and also tasted the famous Tomoca coffee. Next day, we set off for the holy city of Axum. It was St. Mary's day and we witnessed. We also other visited obelisks (from the 3rd and 4th centuries), the musuem and the amazing palace of the Queen of Sheba, which all overwhelmed me. Later, we enjoyed tasty Ethiopian dishes like kitfo, shekla tibs etc.
On the third day, an exciting journey of 3 hours took us to Rahya from where our actual trek started. On reaching Erar community after a picturesque walk through fields, cactus tunnels and an exciting ascent,we had a great welcome from the locals with a green grass carpet. We ate injera (flatbread) with shiro etc. They call it Bayayantu! It tastes awesome! The evening coffee ceremony and our long conversation with our guide Mr.Biniam will live in my memory for ever. The night sky was astonishing as I saw the Milky Way along with thousands of stars for the first time. The chilly Erar night was made tolerable by soup and local food.
The next day we trekked for 16 kms to Seheta community and enjoyed more local hospitality. On the way to Gehgot community we were lucky to visit the Friday market - they call it 'Adaga arvi'. We bought local green-orange coloured shoes, fragrance, a coffee pot etc as souvenirs. On the final day, the trek to Shimbrety community was breathtaking as it was a steep climb. I enjoy suchchallenges! Our trek ended and we bade farewell to the best guide I ever met - uncle Biniam.
Our next destination was Gehralta, with its churches carved in rocks during the 4th Century and later. The journey to Lalibela was full of fun through mountains and valleys. The rock-carved churches in Lalibela taught me a lot about Ethiopia's rich heritage. I took photos of of tukul (huts).
We finally reached Addis Ababa where we saw the famous skeleton of Lucy in the National Museum. My knowledge of prehistory is now completely clear after visiting this museum. Also I appreciated the Red Terror Martyrs' Memorial Museum as probably the first of its kind. It was the end of the trip and my mind was full of the best moments of Ethiopia as we boarded for Mumbai. I experienced village life in the Horn of Africa and thank Village Ways and TESFA tours for giving me such life-long memories of TIMELESS TIGRAY!"