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Ethiopia by E-mail

Subject: Awasa, Abiata, & Shala
Date: Mon, 30 May 2005 17:52:47 +0300
From: Pat Rollin

We are back in Addis after a wonderful trip to visit Awasa. It reminded us a lot of Michigan in the summer but with different trees. We went to stay with other IFESH volunteers and see how life is in the countryside. They live on the campus of Awasa TTC (teacher training college). They are teaching Ethiopian teachers new ways to teach and get the students involved in learning.

Awasa is 268 kilometers from Addis and we had a really good driver. It took about 3 hours to get there. We had lunch with Don & Joan and the driver. We took a ride to see the Lake and do a little shopping. I have some new clothes and we bought a new Gabi. At the lake we saw a lot of beautiful birds and flowers. In Ethiopia they have the most colorful birds I have every seen. The lake had purple water lilies and there were people fishing off a pier. We road around Awasa, a city of about 100,000 people. It has about 3 paved streets and the rest are dirt roads. The way the people get around is by garry which is an axle with two wheels and a seat built on top of it which is pulled by a horse. I did not try riding in one but Don & Joan said they are very hard to get into and because of the bumpy roads you feel like you are going to fall out. They have only ridden in them once.

On Saturday we had the driver take us to Wondo Genet which is a hot spring and there is a forestry college there. We were able to go into the Arboretum at the college and walk up the side of the mountain. Our driver was from the area so we had a nice tour. He does not speak much English but did manage to show us different sites and get us to understand what he was pointing at. He is very proud of his country and wanted us to see what they have. The College had all the trees and a lot of the plants labeled so we could read what they were. We got some pictures of beautiful flowers and birds and big old trees that have been there a long time.

Don, Joan, Pat & the Tree We went to the hot springs and saw Colobus monkeys and walked up to the source of the hot springs and pool they have there. We did not go in because men and women are in separate places and not everyone wanted to go in. We had some older boys take us up the mountain to see the boiling water and had to walk on stones to get over the water. After the tour we stopped for lunch and a little more shopping and then we went to Don & Joan's and toured the Awasa TTI campus and saw this big old tree in the picture with Don & Joan. We took a walk up a hill to see the lake and country side from up high. We were stopped by different groups of people asking where we were going and why. People in Ethiopia don't just take walks to see things they have to have a reason to walk up a big hill or mountain.

Awasa Awasa is farm country and they have corn, teff, sugar cane and bananas growing. The farmers plow the land with a team of cows or oxen and a wooden plow. The ground is now getting real green from the little rain we have had. When Jim was there at Christmas in December the ground was brown and dry.

There are small villages on the side of the road all the way to Awasa. So we saw people walking to market, selling there products on the side of the road and washing their clothes in the streams.

On Sunday we left Don & Joan and started back to Addis. We stopped at the twin lakes of Lake Shala - Abiata, where we paid to go into the National Park. They assign you a guide to ride with you in the car and show you the way to the lakes. Lake Shala has sulphurous springs and there is an area where they have natural saunas in the side of the hills. It is very hot to walk around and the water is very warm. The springs feed into the lake so the farther you get away from the boiling springs the cooler it is. The Lake is salt water and is the deepest lake in Africa. They have islands in the lake but we were told no one lives on them. There are about 2000 people living in the park and they Outline of Africa in the Mud farm and have domestic animals along with ostrich, a deer-like animal called a bushbuck and many types of birds especially flamingos. We walked out to Lake Abiata from the car. It was about 1 kilometer away. You can not drive too close because the water when it is full is a lot closer to shore and the ground is a spongy mass to walk on. On one part you are walking on ground that is wet and you feel like you are walking on foam rubber. There are little island-like mounds you are walking on. As I was walking back I saw an island that looked like a map of Africa so we have included that picture.

We hope this note finds everyone doing well. We had a wonderful trip.

Pat Rollin


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