Monday, May 18, 2015

Lake Langano Ethiopia

K8+8 thought our school year should end with one last big adventure. She picked a weekend at Lake Langano with Downtown Jackie Brown, Team Sara/Esme, Mooch Goat (bailed last minute due to illness), and I as the appropriate trip. 

We booked out of our classrooms within minutes of the dismissal bell. The next 3.5 hours were spent dodging live stock, humans, Sino Trucks-What some Ethiopian's call Al Queda, buses, potholes, and donkey carts. We arrived just in time to see stars, listen to the lake slap the shore, and hear wild dogs off in the distance. 

Ethiopia is a birdwatcher's paradise. Well, I didn't intend to look for birds, I walked around with a point-and-shoot camera and snapped what I saw.
Blood oranges? 
Cactus were flowering. 
Livestock outside out campground. 

It is common to see goats climb trees for food...or much on cactus. 
Random grave site.
The shore.
Everyone likes a eagle.
The blooming cacti were abundant. 

Nature's version of swimming pool noodles 

It is the begging of the rainy season and some trees are in bloom. 
Bird nests.
Crazy looking duck.
K8+8 likes to row in the water so we went on a little adventure checking out other villages and camp sites along the lake.
It appears most birds like the orange tree. 
We didn't quite rough it, there was a fully functional kitchen. Most of the people that use the facility are related to the Embassy and I can't see many of them roughing it.  
Downtown Jackie Brown looking for animals.

The images below are from a previous Langano visit.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A short return to Egypt

First off, Ana gave birth to Taquita (little taco) in April and thus the Camels and Tacos family has grown by one. I retuned back to the states to see it all unfold and spent a short week with mama and the baby. 

I'm biding my time during my last remaining month solo in Ethiopia. Traveling to Egypt twice to take care of paperwork and all the shenanigans that involve moving back to Alexandria has provided some relief to be among old friends in a familiar settings. Don't worry Camels and Tacos fans and haters, Alexandria is still safer than back home unless you're crossing the street or driving. 

I didn't snap many photos this time out, but here are a few from walking around town. 

Our newest family member, Ximena. She is just a couple of days old here is alert and already demanding milk. 
The Al Alterine antique district is best done at night as most shops were closed in the morning. I am curious about the door on the top floor. 
Translation please.
Some cool Alex street art. 
The corniche near Maadi in Cairo hosts many family friendly places.
One of the best parts of living in Alex is the proximity to the beach in Agamy. Jeff, Liz, the elusive and often late-pour your drink into the plant Amr (not pictured) and I caught some rays and got my feet wet.  
The best time for Agamy is now, during the summer it is off the hook. The steakhouse Waghi on the main strip is still one of the best meals in Egypt.  
My new buddy Scott and I needed to go on a bike ride. We rented a pair with frames covered in plastic, broken breaks, and short seats in Mamourah.  
We rode through scenic Montazah Palace.   
The streets of the Miami neighborhood still prove to be fertile grounds for endless photographic opportunities. Get your Colonel Gaddafi spinning heart decoration or One Direction coffee mug on.
Our friend Madame Loba was kind enough to translate the text on the chest: Warning: to avoid embarrassment parties costumes and sleeping gowns are not to be exchanged or refunded. So the question is: Which one is for the bed and which one if for the party? I wanted to inquire about the missing hand, but the typical response would have been, "No hand, finished." 
The Liquor store in Miami sports nicely decorated taxidermy and other hanging bric-a-brac. They sell famous brand name bottles such as Jane's Water Red Lion or Whatie Horse, those of course are not to be confused with other famous Egyptian brands such as Johnny Walder. I know, makes your tongue sweat just thinking about it.  
Why not use an images of a man kissing a lion to sell honey. The rows of fresh garlic suspended above the entrance adds a touch of class.  
A view of the neighborhood from our old apartment. 
Checking out the sights on the way to the Bakoos neighborhood.  
Glad to see this car hasn't moved since the revolution... 
...and a new arrival on the scene.    
Truth be told, we wanted to came back to Alex. The school, people, foods, the sea, the quirks, the insanity, noise...all of it is somehow lovable. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Traveling around Ethiopia with Sonny: Bahir Dar, Gondar, Aksum, and Lalibela

Our friend Sonny came to visit us for about 12 days back in the beginning of January. We hung out in Addis for a couple of days then booked a non-stop tour up north to have our minds blown by some of Ethiopia's best sights. When all was said and done, we were like, WTF just happened. We saw so many places it seemed like we were out much longer than we were. No regrets, pure fun and craziness.  
Ana getting checked for Ebola. Kudos to Ethiopia for being proactive on countering the outbreak. Of course I'm closer to a confirmed case here in San Diego than when I was in Ethiopia. Just a reality check for the haters out there.  
Hand written airline tickets are all the rage in Ethiopia. You saw it here first on Camels and Tacos.
Another Camels and Tacos exclusive, Self-service Immigration Counter in Bahir Dar. 
Waiting for luggage. 
Market day in Bahir Dar.  
There isn't much water in January at the Blue Niles Falls. 
When Ana and I saw this in the fall it was intense. Not much going on during the dry season. You can check out our other post to compare by clicking HERE
Our taxi that took us across the Blue Nile River.
Boat full of school children. I was once bused to school. 
Kill A Pest brightens up any room. 
A future hotel in Bahir Dar, taking reservations now. 
Gondar has the Dashen Beer Garden. Skip the bottle and get the fresh unfiltered stuff from the tap. Delicious.
A Dashen Beer Garden customer. More evidence that thrift store clothing fashion is all the rage in Gondar. 
I don't always stay in Debarke, but when I do it is at the Semen park hotel. 
Simien Mountain National Park natives. 
A Gelada male.
The Gelada monkeys were moving to another spot when we arrived. 
We opted for a 3-4 hour hike to check out the majestic Simien Mountains.
Zonies be jealous. 
We had to hire a guide and security in Debark before driving into the mountains. 
To get to this point to see this waterfall was tempting fate. One had to climb on some rocks to pass over to see this view. It is a long drop. I didn't quite get to enjoy it as I was still shaking a little. 
Somehow I made the mistake and booked 2 nights in Gondar. I'm not a fan of discrimination and places like Ethiopia and Egypt have widely different prices for locals and tourists. I don't mind paying a little extra, but 20 times as much is a bit extreme. After hemming and hawing we finally went into Fasil Ghebbi where Ethiopian emperors once lived. 
The structures were amazing to explore.
On the other side of town was  Fasilides' Bath. They were getting ready for the Timket holiday, a time when people flock to the bath.  
Ana and Sonny taking advantage of the roots. 
Another view of  Fasilides' Bath
Next up was Askum. We were on a late flight and missed getting into Aksum Stelae Park, sort of. We arrive a few minutes before it closed, but we figured out a way to make it happen.

Obelisk of Axum. 
Church of St. Mary of Zion. Just over the wall and a couple of buildings in, lies the Ark of Covenant. Sonny had read that the ark was recently stolen. The story is a couple of  helicopters landed and knocked out the guards and flew off with the ark. So we asked around and the story seemed to be made-up unless there is a town gag-order.
The church in the midst of Aksum Stelae Park. 
Our friends hanging out at Queen of Sheeba's Bath. Photo by Sonny. 
Aksum is known for a white type of flowery honey. I bought a kilo. Photo by Sonny.  
Our final stop was Lalibela. A van picked us up from the airport and Sonny made friendly with the two young ladies sitting next to him. One of the guys in the back busted out some tella and passed it around. That my folks, is how you get the party bus going. People visit Lalibela for the churches. Our guide was amazing, his grandfather was a priest at one of the churches so he told us a lot of insider information.  
Reading and praying.
Traveling through tunnels from one church to the next. 
The space in the churches are dense. We only saw 6 churches out of 10 that afternoon. 
On the way to the Church of St. George
The Church of St. George is the most famous of the bunch.
Obligatory group shot with the church. 
Another view.
The sun was setting. 
Final view. 
For a nice meal with a view in what seems like a spaceship, Ben Abeba is a must in Lailbela. Go at sunset, you won't regret it.