Gonder notes

Gonder is I believe Ethiopia’s third largest city.  It has splendid castles and fortifications from the 18th century, with Moorish and Portuguese styles mixed in; at that time it was the capital.  There are numerous monasteries and churches scattered throughout the area, many with impressive frescoes.

There is no week in my life in which I have seen as many donkeys as I have seen one day in and around Gonder.

I was surprised how good the area is for birdwatching, you don’t even have to try.

There is an Ethiopian Jewish village nearby.  The Jews have left for Israel, but you can go see the synagogue behind a fence.

Two of my drivers have told me the exact same sentence: “They grow everything here: teff, barley, and wheat.”

If the people in the river village ask “do you wish to take out the small boat to go see the hippo?”, the correct answer is “No.

Comments

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"There is no week in my life in which I have seen as many donkeys as I have seen one day in and around Gonder."

That is how one knows it is a great place and Chinese domination is worth it. In Brazil, I have never seen a donkey or a hippo in my whole life. We have buses, cars, airplanes, (a few) trains, trucks and ships instead. But I guess The Flintstones will always be more popular than The Jetsons.

No, he clearly meant the whole animal called donkey. It is just another side of America's sick, childish taste for exotism. Form over substance. Flash over character.

That is ridiculous, to say the least.

In Brazil, I have never seen a donkey or a hippo in my whole life.

In all fairness the hippos of Colombia are much better. While there are no hippos and very few donkeys in Ohio at all.

I wouldn't know I have never been to Ohio. Colombian hippos are probably from Escobar's legacy. They are officially believed to be a plague.

This is why I am here. +1 to all hippos.

You mean no wild hippos or have you never heard of zoos?

The photo of Gonder (from your previous post) is magnificent. The idea to go and spend some vacation time in Ethiopia never crossed my mind before, but not is solidly implanted.

It's interesting how "high" Ethiopian cities are. Gonder is 7000 ft high! And Addis Adaba is 7700 ft high.

Amazing. Addis Adaba is probably the largest city in the world among towns higher than 6K feet. Worth checking.

Johannesburg is another African city that is nearly 6K ft high. And it's pretty large.

What's with Africa and high altitude megapolises.

Yes, that's interesting. That explains maybe why it looks so green on the picture.

But for the largest city in the world above 6K feet, Bogota is higher and bigger.

Well, I took a look at a map....

The Eastern flank of Africa is dominated by mountain and plateau systems between the Somalian and Numbian plates. There is a relatively narrow coastal strip. Warm air carrying water from the Indian ocean southbound current smacks into those hills, rises, cools, condenses and deposits generous amounts of rain. A fertile ecosystem forms. Profit!

Also, the altitude probably gets rid of some of the killer humidity and disease near the coast.

Warm air carrying water from the Indian ocean southbound current smacks into those hills, rises, cools, condenses and deposits generous amounts of rain.

Except when it doesn't.

Hippos are the most dangerous animals in Africa [deaths per annum]. Why one never sees Close Up photographs of them.

https://www.artsy.net/artwork/nick-brandt-hippos-on-the-mara-river-maasai-mara-2002

That is only the Colombian Hippo. The rarer (but much more beautiful) Brazilian Hippo is almost fully domesticated.

There's a reason why Gonder is referred to as the Camelot of Africa.

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You are pathetic, sir.

How is it possible that in a country with a population of 100 million, the third largest city has a population of 200,000?

Is urbanization not a thing in Ethiopia?

I believe Ethiopia has kept its old Communist-era laws imposing quasi-serfdom and forcing peasants to remain in the countryside. You need government permission to move to a town.

Thanks for the explanation but it seems remarkable that a country with 100 million in population, other than the capital, there isn't a city as large as Riverside, Ca or Stockton, Ca.

They must have rather draconian social controls or else one would think that the young people would be flocking to urban areas. China has similar residency requirements but it doesn't stop hundreds of millions from disobeying rules and seeking their own fortune through urbanization.

I am unaware of any other place where such a situation exist. Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and even Bangladesh all have multiple cities where the population exceeds one million. Oddly, Ethiopia doesn't follow what seems to be a world wide phenomenon.

The first item I learnt about Ethiopia was abebe Bikila winning the Marathon in 1960 , running barefoot.

Shoes aren't really an advantage in running, barefoot running is growing in popularity since it was discovered that it results in fewer injuries. Maybe very recent shoe technology offers an advantage (like last 5 years)

Who will pay him to endorse his feet?

I suggest you review *current* medical knowledge on barefoot running.

I really enjoy these travelogue posts.

The donkeys of Ethiopia also impressed me. You see trains of 20 or so donkeys walking by themselves along the roadside. They know where to go when to farmers send them into the markets in town, then return at night.

The Beacons of Minas Tirith! The Beacons are lit! Gondor calls for aid!

you should go & try some Tella (locally brewed beer), especially in Lalibela. Probably the closest you'll ever get to see ancient brewing techniques.

And ancient sanitary practices!

Ethiopia has the second highest number of donkeys in the world... after China (China has more of everything, save, perhaps, hippos).

The third biggest city in Ethiopia is probably Mekelle (or Hawassa?). For all its charm, Gondar is a bit of a backwater, since the early to mid 18th century.

Urbanization is certainly the future of Ethiopia:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/tomorrow/ethiopia-plans-to-build-8000-new-cities-in-countryside-a-1197153.html

“They grow everything here: teff, barley, and wheat.”

Almost as good as "we play both kinds of music: country and western."

When I was there, this February, one of the crops I saw (and ate!) in the Dembea country between Gondar and Lake Tana, was a variety of White Lupin, that gets mixed into the standard bean (to make shurro) which can give neurological impairments that leave you paralysed.

The illness seemed similar to the kind of thing you'd get from the fungus rye ergot.

But from what I understood, in Lupus it's not a fungus, but rather a compound in the bean itself, that needs to be properly leached out to render it edible.

Hahaha "To go see the hippo", yeah I agree don't, Hippos are really aggressive animals.

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