Posted on March 17th, 2009 No comments
Leading the tour of Ethiopia during the Timkat (Epiphany) Festival this past January was amazing. The whole country goes NUTS! We were in Lalibela for the actual festival and waited along the edge of the spectacular rock-hewn Church of St.George for the procession of the tabots (replicas of the Ark of the Covenant) to begin. Not utilizing modern technology, the priests of each individual church signal to the other that they are ready by blowing loudly on a horn. When they finally decided they were ready, it was complete chaos. We followed the procession for the next two hours and it was unforgettable. There’s no way to stay together as you all get caught up in the crowd, but that’s the fun part. So much going on and so much colour! Music, chanting, pushing, laughter, and chaos!
The festival in Lalibela was great, but what I’ll never forget was our drive the following day when we drove through scores of tiny little villages and towns having their own Timkat celebration and more often than not, our vehicles would get surrounded by locals caught up in the frenzy of the festivities. At one point, my vehicle was completely surrounded by local men all chanting and jumping up and down while waving sticks in the air. They seemed thrilled to have foreigners there to watch and everywhere we went we were greated with cheers and smiles.
What a beautiful country. It certainly doesn’t live up to any stereotype or preconception I might have had. For me Ethiopia is far from a desert-like country plagued by famine. To me it is gorgeous mountain scenery, unique wildlife, waterfalls, rivers, strange food, great music, a unique culture, and a bizarre and fascinating history bordering on mythology.
Check out some great tours to Ethiopia