Wednesday, October 31: This morning we get up at 6:00 a.m. so we can leave bright and early for the U.S. Embassy. Ed needs to do some work before we take off for sightseeing, so he brings me along to twiddle my thumbs and wait…and wait. From the embassy, after nearly two hours of waiting, we head directly into the Entoto Mountains.
The Entoto Mountains, north of Addis Ababa, were the site of Emperor Menelik’s former capital. We admire the sprawling view of the city below. We pass donkeys carrying loads of eucalyptus, which the locals have cut branch by branch off the trees on the mountain, leading to soil erosion and deterioration of the forest. Some donkeys carry grass to sell to the locals who spread grass over their mud floors when they have guests. Women trudge up and down the mountain carrying loads of firewood on their backs, day in and day out. Apparently aid organizations are trying to find these women other means of livelihood, but it’s obvious many women are still dependent upon this work.
Near the top of the mountain, we stop at St. Raguel & Elias Historical Church. Inside the church are multitudes of brightly colored paintings that tell bizarre stories. We see paintings, as we do in every Ethiopian church, of St. George, the patron saint of the country. We see the apostles meeting gruesome deaths. We see the devil looking quite devilish. Ethiopia’s Christian stories are rich in legend, and these legends are told pictorially in these paintings. We find a saint who prayed for 7 years; though one of his legs has fallen off, he does have 6 wings. We see Doubting Thomas. We see a large painting of the miracles of Christ: here he heals a blind man, there he turns water into wine, and here he raises Lazarus from the dead.
Besides the amazing stylized paintings in this church, there is a rock-hewn church on the grounds. The passageway to this church, covered in moss, leads to a sanctuary where early Christians worshiped.
Click on any of the photos below to see a full-sized slide show.