Bishangari Lodge

weekly photo challenge: renewal

Friday, November 9: The theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Renewal.

Liturgy is like a strong tree whose beauty is derived from the continuous renewal of its leaves, but whose strength comes from the old trunk, with solid roots in the ground.  ~ Pope Paul VI

This priest in a church in Lalibela, Ethiopia is engrossed in spiritual renewal…

Education involves a continual renewal of the mind.  These three Ethiopian girls are on their way to school.

renewal of the mind: going to school

Renewal can also be just relaxing with friends and playing a game, even if the game involves using bottle caps for checkers.

checkers with bottle caps. Games can renew the soul….. Lake Langano, Ethiopia.

Renewal. This word conjures a variety of images, from bright blossoms to meditating monks. When I think of “renewal,” I think of starting a new job, arriving in a new city that’s ripe for exploration, walking through a new apartment with white walls, and taking a hot shower after a challenging day.  I think of beginnings. Life. Opportunity. What images does Renewal conjure for you? Get creative. Think beyond the usual images (a sunrise, a birth). We want to see what else you can come up with.

Categories: Africa, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Lalibela, Lalibela rock-hewn churches, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: | 17 Comments

travel theme: bright

Sunday, November 4: Ailsa’s Travel Theme for this week is Bright. She writes: So what bright delights have caught your eye?  Show me your brilliant brights. (Where’s my backpack? Travel Theme: Bright)

Here is a chanting church service at Bet Mikael, one of the churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia, with bright light shining over the believers.

Priests and boys chanting in Bet Mikael at Lalibela, Ethiopia. It’s almost as if the bright light is God beaming down on them….

There are beautiful bright paintings found in all the Lalibela rock-hewn churches.  These churches, built in the 11th century, are still used today.

a bright painting of the Virgin and child at the Lalibela churches

At the Saturday market in Lalibela, bright textiles are offered for sale.

the Saturday market at Lalibela, Ethiopia

And finally, at Lake Langano in southern Ethiopia, the evening twilight casts a bright light over the landscape of acacia trees.

the landscape of Lake Langano at twilight

Categories: Africa, Bet Mikael, Bishangari Lodge, Bright, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Lalibela, Lalibela rock-hewn churches, Travel Theme | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

hobnobbing with the shorebirds at lake langano

Tuesday, October 30:  This morning, we pack up for our return trip to Addis Ababa.  We eat a breakfast of omelets: Ed has an Ethiopian Omelet with tomato, onion, & chili, and I have an Omelet a la Bishangari, with mango, pineapple, banana and sugar. I’m surprised it has more of a savory flavor than sweet.  We drink fresh papaya juice and coffee.  The tea and coffee set-up harkens back to British colonial days and adds a nostalgic ambiance to our morning.  It’s our last day here and I’m sad to leave.

We take a walk along the lake edge to check out the shorebirds.  The day is crisp and breezy; the clouds are in fine form in a hazy blue sky.  Ed is hesitant to cross outside of the fenced-in area of Bishangari Lodge, but I figure we went there last night and it was perfectly fine, so why not?  He’s afraid we’ll be harassed by the locals for money or handouts.  I’m not worried because I know how to say no and how to ignore people who harass me.  I’m determined to cross no matter what he decides to do.  In the end, he comes along.

speckled pigeon

speckled pigeon

acacia trees on the landscape near the lake

acacia trees on the landscape near the lake

marshland

marshland

Our adventurous foray is richly rewarded.  We see speckled pigeons, little egrets, white and gray pelicans, cormorants, and ducks.  They allow us to approach them without flying away.  We linger for a long time, creeping silently closer.  Finally, after most of them leisurely swim or fly away, showing no fear of us at all, we make our way back to the lodge.  We meet an olive baboon and stroll under more amazing ficus trees.  Then we head back on the road for our trip to Addis Ababa.

a flock of little egrets

a flock of little egrets

pumice-stone moonscape

pumice-stone moonscape

white & gray pelicans

white & gray pelicans

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

more white pelicans and cormorants

more white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans & cormorants

white pelicans & cormorants

looks to me like a pregnant pelican!

looks to me like a pregnant pelican!

pelicans afloat

pelicans afloat

cormorants

cormorants

the lakeshore

the lakeshore

me in front of a huge ficus tree

me in front of a huge ficus tree

olive baboons

olive baboon

pretty tree

pretty tree

tukul huts

tukul huts

local houses

local houses

scenery on the drive back to Addis

scenery on the drive back to Addis

fields

fields

In the evening, when we return to Addis Ababa, we eat a meal that Ed’s housekeeper/cook Kitay has prepared for us: injera, wat, cabbage & potatoes, lentils.  We top it off with some Montrouge Merlot.  Later, Ed shows me pictures on his computer, but when I want to show him pictures of my time in Greece, he’s not really interested.

As there is really nothing to do in the evening, he suggests we watch a movie.  Just as he’s about to put it on, he says he needs to make a business call to the U.S.  I wait.  And wait.  Finally I go upstairs to read, and hear him chatting away on Skype to his sons.  He is heading back to the U.S. on Saturday, and today is Tuesday, so I figure the conversation will be short.  It isn’t.  As a matter of fact, I give up and get in bed to read, telling him I’m no longer interested in watching the movie.  This is one time I wish I had the numbers of my colleagues so I could join them somewhere in Addis for some fun.

Categories: Acacia trees, Africa, bird-watching, Birds, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake eco-zone, Lake Langano, Pumice stone eco-zone | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

fine feathered friends along lake langano’s shores {sunday}

Sunday, October 28: We spend some time walking along the lake shore where we spot birds of many feathers.  This is where I really discover either my camera’s or my own shortcomings.   My camera takes a lot of great photos, but it doesn’t do certain things well:  1) It doesn’t take good night shots; 2) it doesn’t take good macro pictures; and 3) it doesn’t take good pictures of small things at a distance, like birds.   The zoom lens basically sucks.  At some point, I will definitely need to buy a new zoom lens for my little Olympus PEN  EPL-1.  Either that or upgrade my camera completely.

a Great Cormorant

a Great Cormorant

Great cormorant takes flight

Great cormorant takes flight

Along the lake we wander. We admire the birds, we stare out over a horizon heavy with gray clouds, we listen to the choppy waves hit the shore.  We take pictures.  Ed, being a veteran bird-watcher, knows his birds and educates me as to what is what.  He points out a Great cormorant, a Senegal thick-knee and some spur-winged plovers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Senegal thick knee

spur-winged plover

spur-winged plover

spur winged plover

spur winged plover

spur-winged plovers

spur-winged plovers

the spur winged plover takes flight

the spur winged plover takes flight

After our afternoon of exploring the pumice stone area, the beach, and the lakeshore, we head to the Tree House bar where we share a bottle of Gonder Ethiopian red wine.  We toast to our safe arrival at the lake.  We eat a dinner of mushroom soup, black olive salad, pan-fried fish served with French fries, vegetables and pasta, and a crepe suzette for dessert.  Cicadas chirp in the background, a musical serenade.

Lake Langano

Lake Langano

another view of Lake Langano

another view of Lake Langano

acacia tree along the lakeshore

acacia tree along the lakeshore

 

Categories: Africa, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake eco-zone, Lake Langano | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

the beach at bishangari lodge

Sunday, October 28:  It’s a little too cool at Lake Langano for swimming, but that doesn’t stop us from swinging in the hammocks by the lake, listening to the waves roll into shore, and enjoying the chatters & chirps of the birds.

the beach at Bishangari Lodge

the beach at Bishangari Lodge

the sun loungers wait for the sunshine

the sun loungers wait for the sunshine

sticks tied together to make primitive boats

sticks tied together to make primitive boats

loungers and hammocks ~ everything for relaxation :-)

loungers and hammocks ~ everything for relaxation 🙂

groovin' on a Sunday afternoon...

groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon…

chairs near the beach for lake viewing

chairs near the beach for lake viewing

Ed in his hammock :-)

Ed in his hammock 🙂

Monday is a sunnier day at the Langano Lake beach

Monday is a sunnier day at the Langano Lake beach

...but there are no cushions on the loungers

…but there are no cushions on the loungers

the glittery beach

the glittery beach

Categories: Africa, Beach, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake Langano | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

the bishangari eco-lodge at lake langano, ethiopia

Sunday, October 28:  We stay for 2 nights at the Bishangari Eco-Lodge at Lake Langano, Ethiopia.  Here, we explore the wetlands, the beach and lake, the forest, an otherworldly pumice rock landscape and an acacia shrub zone replete with birds, horses and baboons .  We eat the Menus of the Day, posted before each meal with curlicue writing on bark signs. We go birdwatching in the dewy forest as the sun rises, encountering multitudes of birds, Colobus monkeys, and baboons, as well as children walking to school with books in their arms.  We get relaxing oily massages.  We walk along the beach and then swing in hammocks beside the lake. We sit on the porch of our cabin and peruse bird books, jotting down the birds we identify.  We take a hippo-spotting hike where we don’t spot any hippos, but we encounter a simultaneous sunset and moon rise over the wetlands in a glowing blue light.  We watch the staff while the hours away by playing checkers using bottle caps. And at the end of each day, we share Gonder Ethiopian wine at the lovely Tree House bar with the sounds of birds twittering, chirping, chanting and singing all around us.

The weather is a fabulous 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees C) during the days.  At night I burrow under blankets and sleep like I’ve never slept before.

From the Bishangari Lodge website:

Imagine a natural retreat of outstanding beauty that combines five unique ecological zones, a secluded setting that is host to over 400 bird species, a diverse range of wildlife, spectacular array of plant life and un-spoilt biodiversity. Bishangari Lodge is less than 250 kms South of Addis Ababa, situated on the shores of Lake Langano, Bishangari’s secret has been safe thanks to its inaccessibility.

The lodge has been designed on sound environmental principles utilizing solar power and biogas for energy. The lodges have been constructed using natural materials and traditional techniques, without compromising on the quality and luxury of the accommodation. It is a natural retreat of outstanding beauty that combines five ecological zones;- wetlands, beach and lake, the forest, the dry pumice rocks and the acacia shrub.

I’ll feature each of the ecological zones in upcoming posts.

Click on any of the images below for a full-sized slide show.

Categories: Africa, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake Langano | 5 Comments

eid al-adha & a birthday escape to ethiopia

Wednesday, October 24: Tomorrow, October 25, is my birthday!  At my age, this shouldn’t be anything to celebrate.  After all, who wants to be a year older?  Yet.  I always believe in celebrating my birthday (hey, at least I’m still alive!) and I love to have people celebrate with me. In addition to it being my birthday, it is also Eid al-Adha in the Arab world, and so luckily my birthday coincides with a 9 day holiday in Oman.  Lucky me!

Eid al-Adha is the “Festival of Sacrifice” celebrated by Muslims the world over to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in obedience to God.  Lucky for Abraham, God intervened and provided his faithful servant with a ram to sacrifice instead of his son.  The actual Eid al-Adha holiday is Friday, October 26, but the government grants a week off, as does the university.

Soon after the clock strikes midnight on this 57th birthday of mine, around 1:00 a.m., I will hop in my car, suitcase in hand, and head to Seeb International Airport in Muscat for a 4:50 a.m. flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  I dread the early hour of this flight, but I’m excited about my trip.  As all of you know, I LOVE to travel!!  I’m happiest when I’m thrown into a foreign culture and left to my own devices.

I came across this quote today on Facebook.  It gives me food for thought.  I am thankful that in the last six years of my life, I have been able to do things that I used to say I would do “someday.” I am still trying to do this, as much as I possibly can, despite the fact that often I have to sacrifice a lot in this life journey of mine.

My long-time friend, who works in the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, will be my travel companion and guide.  He has been in Ethiopia for a year already, so I’m lucky to have someone who knows Ethiopia.  He has planned some fun excursions, and I’m happy to have him work out the logistics.  I can’t wait!!

So far, here’s what he has planned.  Aware of the fact that I will arrive without having had any sleep, he hasn’t planned much for my first day, even though I arrive at 7:30 a.m.  I told him not to worry, I will be too excited to sleep anyway.  He says we can go celebrate my birthday at an Ethiopian restaurant within walking distance of his house.

Early the morning of the 26th, we have a domestic flight and private tour of the 13th and 14th century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, where we will stay overnight in the Mountain View Hotel Lalibela.  The next morning, we will go to Lalibela town’s weekly open market and then fly back to Addis that afternoon.

The morning of the 28th, we will drive 3 hours outside of Addis Ababa to Lake Langano, where we will stay two nights at an eco-lodge called Bishangari Lodge.  According to the lodge’s website: Imagine a natural retreat of outstanding beauty that combines five unique ecological zones, a secluded setting that is host to over 400 bird species, a diverse range of wildlife, spectacular array of plant life and un-spoilt biodiversity. Bishangari Lodge is less than 250 km south of Addis Ababa, situated on the shores of Lake Langano. Bishangari’s secret has been safe thanks to its inaccessibility.

The lodge has been designed on sound environmental principles utilizing solar power and biogas for energy. The lodges have been constructed using natural materials and traditional techniques, without compromising on the quality and luxury of the accommodation. It is a natural retreat of outstanding beauty that combines five ecological zones;- wetlands, beach and lake, the forest, the dry pumice rocks and the acacia shrub.

The rest of our time, we will spend exploring Addis Ababa and all the city has to offer.

According to Visit 2 Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is the capital of modern Ethiopia and gateway for most tourists, as well as the political and commercial heart of the country.  Now a city of around 4 million people, it was founded by Emperor Menelik II in 1877.

The name Addis Ababa means “new flower.” This big, sprawling, hospitable city is more than 2,200 meters high in the foothills of Entoto Mountain. Addis Ababa is one of the third capital cities in the world with high altitude, after Katmandu and La Paz. Modern buildings and wide-open boulevards stand side by side with historic churches, palaces and monuments, as well as simple country-style huts. The air is filled with the scent of flowers and eucalyptus trees, and the rich vibrancy of a city that is home to so many cultures.

Modern Addis Ababa also plays a vital role in hosting many international organizations, including the AU, ECA (the Economic Commission for Africa), and other multi-national organizations, who all have their headquarters here. Addis Ababa is as well one of the most crowded diplomatic cities of the world.

I’ll see you all when I return home on Friday, November 2!

Categories: Addis Ababa, Africa, Bishangari Lodge, Eid al-Adha, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Lalibela, Mountain View Hotel Lalibela | 5 Comments

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