November 11, 2019
The north of Ethiopia and the last leg of our trip was an excellent experience and it gave us an insight into the historic and strong christian orthodox and Coptic Christian religion that permeates much of the Amhara and Tigray regions and of the nominally Muslim Afar people who thrive in the extremely harsh conditions of the north eastern Afar region and the incredible landscapes of the Afar region.
We had 1 1/2 very interesting days in Lalibela, a 1/2 day drive and a visit to Yeha and 2 1/2 days exploring the other-worldly Afar region of Ethiopia sleeping under the stars and pooping (or trying to) in garbage and poop and toilet paper filled lava fields.
The landscape was incredible.
Our driver, Abrham (yes that is the correct spelling) was a very nice man and was the lead driver in our group so we were always the first to arrive at a specific destination. He is from Mekele and has worked as a tour driver for many years so he knew all the ins and outs of the expansive and open terrain we often travelled.
Abrham was also a very generous man.
On our way to Erta Ale Volcano, we stopped without warning at a tiny Afar settlement in the middle of a lava field in the middle of nowhere. There was a young boy standing on the side of the road. Abrham got out of the truck and opened the back and pulled out books, writing paper, pens and some candy and handed it out to the small crowd that seemed to appear out of nowhere. He told us he did this every time he passed this way because they have very little access to education, never mind paper or pens or candy. It was a gesture that should be repeated by all tour drivers/companies that pass through. Life is very harsh in the north eastern Tigray and Afar regions of Ethiopia.
We were dropped off at Mekele airport with several hours to kill before our flight however we lucked out and were able to get on an earlier flight back to Addis. We arrived back at our hotel with plenty of time to relax, shower and have a nice evening and a light dinner of a very average pizza at our hotel lounge.