Our Gondar adventures continued the next morning with a sunrise breakfast on our hotel’s terrace. We stayed at Lodge du Chateau. It’s centrally located with superb service. The lodge is just that, a lodge, hence pretty basic. Very Lonely Planet. The Peace Corps Volunteer nearby works closely with this hotel, and it sells products from local charity, farm cooperative, and the like.
We ventured to the old Gondar Castle from the 17th century. Our guide gave us an impressive rundown of its history. Many emperors throughout Ethiopian history contributed to this cluster of castles. Unlike Cameroon, where history was construed from various tribes and colonial past, Ethiopia actually had its very own empire, with castles and such that were heavily influence by Europe at the time. This was impressive!
And just like a tour in Europe, a Castle tour is inevitably followed by a Church tour. As we pulled up to the 17th century Church, a wedding processing was taking place. The congregation, dressed in white, were singing and clapping, welcoming the newlywed couple who were walking under a ceremonial umbrella. It was incredible to see that such an old church is still in use, and that traditions in its various forms continued into the 21st century. There is something admirable about a society with such deeply rooted institutions and traditions.
As someone who didn’t grow up in a church, I really like churches. Especially the really old ones. As I was inside of this ancient building, listening to stories of the Bible being depicted on the wall, I felt a deep sense of spirituality. I may not know the stories, but it’s a sense of devotion and hope that permeates through religious establishments, whether a church, a temple, or a mosque. That sentiment is precisely why I continue to tour churches and temples of the world.
After Church, comes the coffee break. Ethiopia’s coffee really lives up to its reputation. It’s so delicious, and cheap. The coffee ceremony which honors these delicious beans are performed in the home, but also now in hotels, and random places where tourists roam. In the morning, while at the castle, a lady was crushing beans by hand. In the after, at a hotel, another lady performed the ceremony in the modern way, but she did roast the beans, and let me had a hand in it. You sit on the stools, wait for the beans to roast, to ground, to brew, and then sip them in tiny cups with popcorn. This is no Starbucks, my friends! I drink coffee with breakfast, lunch, and dinner during my stay in Ethiopia, and I love every sip of it!
Post coffee break, I went on a little souvenir hunt. The region is known for hand woven scarfs. I caught a man in action! It was incredible. I don’t know if he really makes all of his scarfs in that shack, of if it was a business strategy to tug at tourists’ heartstring, either way, it worked, and I bought many!
The day ended with postcard writing on the hotel’s terrace. What a delightful day – one filled with equal parts history, culture, and relaxation. I attempted to capture small bits of my day on the postcards and sent them into the world. They may or may not actually make it to the final destination, but it’s out there, somewhere.