Monday, February 24, 2014

Aksum aka Axum, Adwa, and Yeha Ethiopia

A couple of months ago I walked into my principal's office to ask her if I was going to travel with any of the middle school classes for Week Without Walls. She responded as if I was trying to get out of it and announced that I would be one of the chaperones for 8th grade trip to Aksum. Here I was coming to see her, plotting ways to get on one of the three trips. Ask and ye shall receive.  
The two main methods of getting to Aksum are driving, which takes 2/3 days or an hour flight.  
I've seen the Grand Canyon before, the canyon below felt a little more intense.
The variety of landscapes in one hour.
Outside of our destination. 
We didn't waste anytime from moving to the hotel to the Obelisk Field. The obelisks were made from a single stone and the largest one (about 100 feet/33 meters) was said never to be erected because of the inadequate base size to support it. In short, it fell as the Aksumites tried to hoist it.   
The 1700 year old Obelisk of Aksum was looted by Mussolini's troops during Italy's five year occupation of Ethiopia in 1937. It was eventually returned in 2008. File under: Better late than never.  
Some of the local handicrafts.
I peaked over the fence from the Obelisk Field and saw this church. It called my name and I followed.
Sure enough, what I saw was a labor of love. 
This makes me want to learn Amharic.
There is no shortage of talented artists in Ethiopia. My new mission is to commission someone to make me any of these sections. 
A classic love story.
There were more than 60 obelisks-a size and shape for every tastes. 
Queen Sheba's Bath was a popular spot for taking care of personal hygiene needs and filling-up water containers. 
Ladies, don't forget to use a condom. Sign outside the local college. 
One of the other chaperones and I went on a early morning walk around Aksum and passed by this pool hall. I can see how having a Manchester United poster up on the wall is inviting.
Looking towards Adwa.
Traditionally when the young girls in this region reach a full set of braids (early-teens), they are considered old enough to marry, although the laws in Ethiopia state the legal age is 18. I've had recent discussions with friends about this topic. Most people have problem with this. Westerners tend to only see from their perspective and values. Many times we insert our beliefs systems over others because we feel our rules and laws are righteous and should be applied like we are the morality police. I don't feel this way. I think each society and culture has a right to determine their own values and belief systems. Many cite a "lack" of education, and I ask "who's education?" These children are educated to suit what they need to know and survive. A couple of our students wondered how these children could be happy without the internet and cellphones.        

Our next stop was Yeha, home to a monastery and temple.
Love the shape and formation. 
Elders from the Yeha monastery. 
Attention all Major League Baseball scouts, looking for a fast throwing pitcher? Try the Tigray Region. We saw several boys throwing rocks at one another. Simple and basic fun. 
It was our lucky day as we stumbled upon market day in Yeha.  
If I ever get homesick, Denver street is only an hour's flight. 
Battle of Adwa site. The Battle of Adwa, in which Ethiopian forces under Emperor Menelik II united to defeat an invading force of Italian troops, was one of the most significant turning points in the history of modern Africa. To learn more click here
Battle detail. 
Ethiopia  and Eriteria war reminders. 

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