Don’t worry my enjoyment of life in Adola has not suddenly dissipated, nor am I in desperate need of an airlift to safer climes. Nevertheless, it is always good to get out and explore the local area rather than staying sat in at home watching films or reading the e-book; two activities which have possible occupied unhealthy proportions of my time here.
Adola, in spite of its many plus points, does rather lack in providing distraction. Consequently any opportunity to break out and enjoy the countryside is welcomed.
Unfortunately having no transport of my own (certainly a feature of my top 5 things I have missed the most) means that I am reliant on friendly others to fulfil this desire.
Fortune has favoured me to some extent in the local community of Catholic priests. They don’t reside in Adola – rather they stay about 30km to the west in a beautifully tranquil place called Qillenso and come every week in turn to Adola. After Mass in Adola they travel out each week to different rural communities and have kindly invited me on several of these expeditions.
Not only is it a chance to see more of Ethiopia, it also has allowed me to experience very rural life in the Guji zone and helped me to appreciate all the more the little Adola does have to offer- and there were you all thinking that Adola was the remotest place on Earth- wherever did you get that idea? Most importantly though it goes someway to dispel the myth of Ethiopia land of desert and famine as I have had the opportunity to experience some of the most incredible vistas of lush green valleys throughout the year.
Being able to take part in these visits has been a great opportunity to explore how the communities have grown and developed over the time I have been here with progression from small wooden hut to extended wooden hut or, in one place, direct to concrete church – although they do need to fix the doors there.
The roads to the majority of these places are a little rougher than the lovely stretch of tarmac that now serves my beloved Adola and there have been one or two occasions where I have wondered if I might be walking back to town, however somehow the cars have always made it and long may that continue (as I think about the potential journey this coming weekend – sadly my last).
On Good Friday this year (one week later here) I somehow agreed to join the Catholic community on the way of the cross; imagining this to be a little jaunt around the town and then a couple of kilometres into the countryside to climb a hill.
It soon became apparent that I was right on the first account, but not on the second. It turned out to be a walk of several hours, concluded with a climb up a pathless and steep hill.
Clearly I am still in need of some fitness training in spite of the huge increase in the amount of walking I have done since arriving in Ethiopia. I also needed to bring a larger water supply as we were “blessed” with a beautiful sunny day.
Although I was assured it was nowhere near as hot as the first year they had done it, when no one had brought any water. I must confess to taking advantage of my friendship with the priest to take a ride back in the car. Most people had to walk. We did go back and collect a few after dropping off the first load though!
The college has also been great for getting me out a few times. Recently we took a walk to a place a few kilometres from the college to plant some trees – several thousand, but light work for so many students and staff.
The walk involved a fantastic bridge across a river, through some forest and up a hill (there’s always a hill!). I was one of the last to get to the planting area as I had been photographing the students crossing the bridge, of course I wasn’t hoping someone would fall in, but seriously 600 students – at least one!
Getting there so late there were only a few trees left, but I managed to plant some.
We have also been able to visit neighbouring districts as well as the longer trips to Negele (see previous blog entries). One particular trip was to an area called Seba Boru. It took most of the morning to get there via Shakiso (the gold mining area).
We met with the district officials for a couple of hours and then drove back; the purpose being to collect some data. Sadly (or conveniently!) there was no power, so, no data. Of course they promised to send it on later. The trip might have taken place more than sixth months ago. We might still be waiting. Naturally, I have no comment…