Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Back in Canada

It’s cold outside but the sun is shining in the morning and when I come home from work. The winter darkness is gone.  I’ve a furnace and heat so it’s cozy inside. I’ve fresh water from a tap that’s clean and drinkable. I have my friends, cat George, and dog, Gilbert with me. My own bed last night was unsurpassed. Sealy Posturpedic Queen.  Heavenly. I’ve a marvellous fridge I’ve stocked with yoghurts I love, ice cream, sandwich meats, milk, cream, Perrier waters, all manner of treats.

The electricity is constant. I can’t remember the last time the power was out.  24 hours a day 7 days a week.  There was that storm where the trees came down on the lines last year but power was restored in hours. I have light at the flick of a switch.  I have all my kitchenware and machines. I have drawers full of tools, a motorcycle and an electric bicycle. I even have a folding boat hung outside and an electric and a 2.5 hp power motor for that.  I’ve still not got the time to enjoy all the things I want to enjoy.  I have this iPad Pro and keyboard.  I’ve got my own home wifi. I have a large colour tv, satellite.  I loved watching new Discovery episodes since I came home and last night’s Canadian series FBI with that gorgeous adorable lead. Then I watched NCIS New Orleans and salivated about the food I ate there when I last visited.

I’m drinking coffee from my expresso machine with Okanagan honey.  I even had some vitamins. I know it’s placebo but it’s a thing I do in winter and can afford it. I’ve done some basic exercises on the floor, thankful my body still is flexible to that extent. 

I’ve been to work. The clinics I work at have the greatest people, colleagues and staff.  I really admire the doctors I work with. It’s been a long time coming to be able to look around and say I really appreciate how caring and educated and conscientious these people are. The staff are the same.  No attitude.  Just all working towards the best for patients. None of the politics of government. None of that Machiavellian shit or the gossip of offices rife with drama.  The staff are just wonderful people. I love it. I feel like I’m offshore in a well honed ship cutting through the seas with fair winds and following seas.  

There’s still the phone calls and the demands and the urgent hyperhysterical calls and demands upon demands and threats but they just don’t seem to get to me. I’ve had a break. I’ve slept. I’ve had a change of pace. The sun is returning and we didn’t have to search out a virgin to sacrifice them. I’ve meditated and prayed for hours of days. I’ve walked and talked and generally had some good exercise and a change of scene. I like my work again. 

I could use a mountain stream and a truck camper and a fly rod. I could use a bunch of cans and some targets lined up out in the woods and a sweet rifle for target practice. I could be riding my Harley with Gilbert on the back down the highway to some rock and roll concert where all us bikers are camping in our pup tents. I could enjoy looking at beautiful women in summer bikinis or leather bodices where no one is offended because everyone is an adult.  There’s also that place where the children are there with their parents and it’s a big community and there’s enough grandparents about to feel the ‘chill’ that experience brings.

I’m looking forward to the spring and summer and fall.  There’s hope in the air.  There’s dreams and opportunities. I’m in Canada and we’re through the worst of the winter.  No one shot and ate the ground hog.  We’re tough. We’re Canadians. We survive. We thrive. We really appreciate the clean that comes after the snow, the renewal, the coming through another nature war, the getting beyond the slipping on ice, the colds and flus to the glory of Canadian, Spring, Summer and Fall. I feel sorry for the LA set with their flat weather and flat lives or the east coasters in the US with their indoor derision. 

 I’m loving being here on the west coast. I love the sea air. I sometimes miss the prairies or southern Ontario.  There’s so many fine places to be here in Canada, in spring, summer and fall.  Three quarters of the year Canada is paradise and the rest of the time there’s skiing, snow mobiling. ice fishing, outdoor skating and hockey or good ole hiberating. I confess getting older I’ve opted more for the latter whereas there was a time when I embraced the winter and enjoyed it more.  Now I’d just like to go away for a bit and come back when the sun’s on the return and crocuses are coming alive.

I’m glad to be back in Canada. Any time away makes me appreciate the land.  Some of the people I could do without, that particularly offensive, superior  deceitful sort, egomaniacs with inferiority complexes, the ones who speak with authority when they have none.  But then there’s all these other homegrown down to earth Canadians, loveable adorable funny fine, happy folk I cherish. I’m blessed to be among them. The majority of Canadians. The vast majority of Canadians especially the westerners, of every colour, creed back ground, just a wonderful mix of humanity enjoying this extraordinary land of mountains, wilderness, lakes and ocean.  

I’m enjoying being back in Canada but I can’t wait to hit the open road and I ‘m so looking forward to camping, wood smoke and barbecues. It’s just around the corner.  

Now I have to shower and dress in clean clothes and drive my sweet little Mini Cooper town car to work with a whole bunch of people who generally obey the laws of the roads and the great police forces that help maintain order and safety for us all to enjoy our day.

Thank you God for this day and for this great country. Thank you for reminding me how much I have to be grateful for.  

Sunday, February 24, 2019

3 years old

I don’t have many recollections of being three years old.

It was the year that bus segregation came to a head when  Claudette Colvin a fifteen year old African American girl refused to give up her seat in Montgomery Alabama. Elvis Presley and Billy Haley and the Comets are on the airways. The Salk Polio Vaccine was finally approved. West Germany becomes a sovereign country and joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Communist Warsaw Pact is formed. Disneyland opened to the public in Anaheim, California. The Lockheed U-2 made it’s first flight. The first edition of the Guinness Book of Records is published.  The Instanbul Pogrom of the Greek minority population occurs. Nabokov’s Lolita is published.  Juan Peron of Argentina is ousted by military coup. James Dean is killed in car crash in California. Later that year his movie Rebel without a Cause is released. Alfred Hitchcock presents debuts on TV.  The Vietnam War begins. A state of emergency is declared in Cyprus. Rosa Parks refused to obey the bus driver leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Cytogenecist Tjio discovers 46 is the correct number of human chromosomes.  William c DeMille, screenwriter died. Albert Einstein, Nobel Laureate physicist, born 1879, died on April 18. Thomas Mann, Nobel Laureate, German novelist died. Michael Checkov Russian Actor, writer Director, died. Dale Carnegie, writer and lecturer, died. Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean, was born as was actor Kevin Costner and musician Eddie Van Halen. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates founders of Apple were born this year.   American actor Bruce Willis, American Actress Whoopi Goldberg and director Billy Bob Thornton were born this year. 

We were living in the Toronto suburb.  We rented the front room of the two story red brick house to a single older man who smelled of smoke.  I rarely saw him. “Don’t bother him,” Mom would say to us kids.  We had a smal garage out back where dad kept the car. I remember having other kids my and my brother’s age on the street which ended in bushes where we weren’t supposed to go but we sometimes did. 

We went to church as a family.

In summer I remember playing marbles on the sidewalk. My brother, Ron, who was four years older, had made a board that stood up and and had half circles cut out of the bottom edge. The game was to shoot the marbles through the holes.  He was the best at it. We all liked playing it. Down on our hands and knees on the cement aiming.  

Ethiopia - travel accessories

I have just returned from a successful 2 week trip to Ethiopia.  I landed in Addis Ababa, then took Ethiopian Airlines to Bahar Dar, onto Lalibela, then Axum, then returned to Addis Ababa. I had planned to fly then to Gondar but had developed a summer cold and stayed in Addis instead. I was advised that Gondar was safe if flown to but discouraged to travel their by roads because of some civil unrest.
I found Ethiopia safe.  I took precautions with Ben’s Deet 30% for mosquitos, using Atovaquone Antimalaria pill daily as recommended by the Vancouver Coastal Health Travel Clinic.  Locals did not consider malaria a concern in Gondar, Lallibela, Addis or Aksum because of the higher altitude.  Certainly Bahar Dar and Lake Tana were a concern. It was only in Lake Tana that my hotel room had mosquito netting.
I had arranged my flight through Shannon Nagle, at the Lougheed Mall FLIGHT CENTRE.  I had excellent connection and very enjoyable Lufthansa flights there and back with stop over in Frankfurt.  
Arriving I stayed at Best Western Plus, as I try to always arrange to have a hotel I’m going to first arrive at for the first night or two when I’m jet lagged and at risk.  After that I can arrange hotels as I go.  I returned and stayed at Best Western because it really was such a great hotel with great staff and services.
I was again very appreciative of certain accessories that I travel with as well as some new additions.  

First and foremost I continue to love my EAGLE CREEK wheeled travel bag and combined knapsack.  These attach together but separate each having shoulder straps.  Hence it can be towed together or one on top of another or separated and carried each in one hand or the two together can be back packed. One bag fits well in overhead and the other under the seat in front of me on the plane. When I arrive I leave the main bag and use the back pack. The back pack is perfect for lap top and has well thought out pockets. 

The second item I again loved was the TRAVELON passport and money folder. I first bought this years ago at Wanderlust Travel Store in Vancouver at 4th.  It hangs around the neck, has a protected spot for passport and a slot for the boarding pass. In addition it has a long zippered pocket for money.  It’s a god send travelling. It’s only downside is that in pictures, hanging inside the shirt,  it conceals my 6 pack abs. 

The new addition to my travel accessories was a SPIbelt ( personal item belt. The centre part expanded to the size of my passport but I used it to carry my credit cards, drivers license and a roll of money. Previously I had used a money belt but this was way superior.  I bought this one at MEC, Mountain Equipment Coop.

It’s so easy to become dehydrated in dry hot climates especially with all the tripping about one does. I was pleased to have brought along Pristine Water Purification Tabs. One tab purifies a litre of water in 30 minutes.I liked my Contigo Water Bottle too.  It’s superior to my old solution of simply using a drop of iodine. They were light and convenient, no taste and tremendous security, superior to even bottled water offered locally. I bought both Tabs and Bottle at MEC, Vancouver.

My TILLEY Safari Jacket turned out to be just great, warm for evening, cool in the day with two inner zippered pockets and six pockets on the outside which snapped down.  I loved it.  I’ve  Tilley Hats and Jackets for some 30 plus years of travelling and always appreciated the thoughtfulness. In the picture you can see how the money money belt and travelecon conceal my 6 pack abs.  

TRAVEl CLUB - electric plug adaptor - this light, little box comes with the plugs inside. All that one could need as adaptators for the world over in this little package. I love it. Can’t remember where I got it but it’s compact engineering design beats out everything else I’ve seen.
Foot wear is critical travelling and this trip I did really well.  Make sure your shoes are well worn in.  I had these great Roumanian Hiking Boots with Gortex that are incredibly sturdy and comfortable. I also brought along closed toe Keen Sandals which were perfect.  Open toed shoes are not a good idea hiking and travelling given the importance of feet, risk of cuts and risk of nasty little bugs that love to get under toenails and travel through the body. 
I always carry a light.  This trip I brought a PETZYL Tikka Headlamp from Mountain Equipment Coop. It was perfect, lightweight, tiny and very powerful. 

In the past travelling I’ve brought a packsack’s full of Nikon camera and lens.  Today I was satisfied with the IPhone X and took 95% of my pictures with this. I had the Panasonic Lumix camera for back up and it was great but the Iphone alone would have been sufficient with it’s 10x inbuilt zoom camera for my travel needs.  KISS.  
I had 2 pair of jeans, 5 pairs of socks and underwear, 2 shirts with double pockets, a couple of long sleeve T-shirt’s, one pair of sweats.  I washed my underwear and socks hanging them overnight to dry in the bathroom.  I had room service do launder my shirts and jeans once. I normally just buy a T-shirt of the place I’m visitting so don’t bother bringing them. Clothing is cheap and if you need something it’s no big deal to buy it and leave it. I also had a togue since evening heat loss is mostly through the head and a netted sun hat with flaps which served to block out flies and mosquitoes as well as sun. I had 30 spf sunscreen which I had to use.   I never needed more clothing for Ethiopia in the spring. 
My iPad Pro with keyboard would have been sufficient but I had my Mac laptop along and it was indeed a nuisance since all I used it for was the downloading of photos from the Panasonic.  Done again I might just take my iPhone and Ipad and leave the Mac at home. I could have just left the Ipad at home as I have on other trips but I really like the iPad as a kindle reader.  It’s lighter and smaller.  BlogTouch Pro app worked great for blogging. 
I really felt like I’d got it right with the luggage and equipment this trip. It’s been pretty good for years now but it’s comforting when one gets it just right. This is my hotel and day hiking travel equipment. I have other approaches to back packing hiking and camping,  cycling touring,  motorcycle camping  and blue water sailing. I’m pleased with them as well.  
I regretted not having a paper map. I forgot my GPS with it’s maps.  I would have liked that tech.  I didn’t take my satellite phone but didn’t miss it.  Ethiopia has great cellular coverage. I  had cellular with a roaming package. It’s essential to turn off all the cellular background as my weather channel and such ate up a whole lot of roaming package before I could find what was using up my data.  I used up a lot of cellular data trying to show taxi drivers where I wanted to go with my iPhone map.  Hence the benefit of a paper map.
Ethiopia was a great trip, safe, exciting, wondrous sights, extraordinary churches and monasteries, friendly helpful people. I never felt personally unsafe but I didn’t go out much at night.  I don’t drink or do drugs either.  I felt I had to be cautious against pick pockets and avoided strangers.  It really was a wonderful experience and I’m thankful to have had the right equipment and help.   I arranged guides every two or three days through the hotels I stayed at , Best Western Plus Hotel,  Addis Ababa; Addis Amba Hotel,Bahir Dar; Mountain View  Hotel,Lalibela; Sabean International Hotel, Aksum. The hotels were all extremely helpful with staff that spoke English. 



Saturday, February 23, 2019

Wakening 3 am

Early morning wakening is supposed to be a sign of depression, especially if you can’t get back to sleep. I don’t feel depressed. I awoke from a particularly enjoyable dream of fishing and 4x4ing on my favourite peninsula.  I certainly don’t feel suicidal. I’ve just returned from Africa and in Ethiopia most nights I woke at 4 am.  My internal day night clock is seriously affected by jetsetting half way around the globe in a matter of weeks and back.  I’d understood it there but hoped that it would revert when I returned but the biological clock is definitely confused.

Gilbert and George are delighted.  Both of them sleep whenever so for a little ball throwing adventure, pets and treats and a little walk are just so much fun for them. I did clean the laundry into a bag and emptied out the clothing from my travel bags. My place needs a trustworthy cleaning lady so bad. It’s been years since I was blessed by a cleaning lady. Personally every month or so I get overwhelmed by the clutter and go at it. I vacuum and wash floors but it’s deteriorating again within 2-3 weeks then the dog and cat feel the place is primo while I’m on the edge.  I’d put it off before leaving because I had so much to do to leave and suddenly so many pieces wanting bits of me. Now I’m back and there’s a long list of things to do.  But what I really want is to nap.  Holidaying is intense, especially pilgrimages.

I was glad to see hippos.  Species are dying out around the world and have been since time immemorial. Without man dinosaurs disappears or at very least shrunk and became birds.  ISIS was proud of their destruction of Zoroastrian and Christian temples and churches.  I imagine extremists and thugs are going to one day destroy more of man’s greatest achievements so I am thankful that I saw the Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela.  500 to a thousand years ago Christian leaders began making churches that would last and would inspire.  I am so thankful to have seen them and been where so many have worshipped before me.  

Now I’m thankful to be home, especially enjoying the cat and dog as caring companions.  I am really enjoying the familiar because frankly so much of Ethiopia was strange to me, the sights, food and people are distinct and different in individual ways. There are broad strokes of similarity but nothing like the specific individual familiarity I find in my own home. Not just the bed and organization or disorganization but a way of being.  I admired the simplicity and clarity I saw there. But then the path to modernity is fairly laid out whereas the past past that place is uncertain as I’m finding. 

I’ve been reading Niall Ferguson, The Square and The Tower again, enjoying his own networking as he cites all his colleagues describing network theory, degrees of separation, and hierarchies and conspiracy. It’s a fast and slow read. I know bits then rush forward, such as his discussion of psychologist, Millgram then I slow down in his discussion of the mathematics of the Bridges near Kant’s Philosopher’s Mile. I’d put down a Max Brand novel finding it too moralistic.  I really ought to write some novel I’d like to read when I can’t find something I like to read at 4 am. It’s actually 6:30 am now.I’ve been doing stuff it appears by the time passed.

I’ll nap before the light comes stronger. The snow is still melting away. I’d like to ride my motorcycle.  Without rain or snow I could attend to my storage locker.  I have this body to heal, the knee and neck still hurting while the cough is all but gone.  The lesson of vulnerability was strong this last trip. I don’t feel physically capable of fighting off a physical attack as I’ve felt all my life. That physical capability is slowly going despite my increasing efforts to slow the loss.  I’ve made much gain.  I’m still fairly capable but my days of jumping in the air in self defence and kicking an opponent in the head are but sweet memories.  I’m not even certain how fast or far I could efficiently run.  So I only went out alone a couple of evenings and both times I was afraid of the denizens of the dark.  In the daylight even I saw the benefits of the group tours.  They are definitely a thing for my future. Independence has it’s merits and it’s downfalls.

I’m tired again. A nap.  Weird hours I’m keeping.  Morning comets. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


I know I exist.  Descartes said, “Cogito ergo sum” .  I think therefore I am.
But working with psychosis as I have, and addiction, I see that people can be alone and create an ‘imaginary world’. 
What then is religion? 
What does it mean to have a friend in Jesus?
To know God.
I really don’t have the capacity to create life. There’s a long list of things I can’t do but mostly I am here with no real understanding of how I happened on this planet spinning around the sun in a questionable suburb of a vast galaxy.
The story of Jesus is that he came to say that God is love, that he was the son of god and we were the children of God.  The government crucified him for teaching love.  
That alone is a good moral story. The government hasn’t seemed to be any less likely to day to kill God or his children.  Abortion and euthanasia are the governments latest endeavours en mass. Not their own people. Indeed immortality is their own aim and the perpetuation of the wealth and privilege of their own in government seems paramount. 
So if Jesus came today, virgin birth, or spaceship, he’d likely get the electric chair to maintain the ‘status quo’.  
In meditation I breathe in and I breathe out. This is a true fundamental.  The rhythmic pumping of my blood is another.  
The idea of a central light and I as a spark or a ‘word and I a sound within the word appeals as well. 
Reading the Holy Gospel and Science texts overlap.  It’s all too often that modern scientific knowledge was first intuited by ancient philosophers and theologians. A study of time today says little different than what St. Augustine said nearly 2 millennia ago.
I exist.  But what is my purpose. What is my meaning. What is the meaning of this life.
I have this day.  The past and future may well be ‘constructs’.  Owen Barfield discussed ‘saving the appearances’ and Piaget wrote about how the mind developed abstraction.  Confabulation is another consideration.
 Each aspect of the Jesus story is worthy of consideration in and of itself as a teaching tale.
The virgin birth is a favourite to be poopahed by the city person ignorant of the capacity of reproduction to occur without the earthly male.  I love the mother and child. I love the mother and child depictions from around the world of Christ Jesus and Mother Mary. I am reminded of how safe I felt when my mother held me as a child. There’s a universal here.  
Anxiety is said to be a measure of one’s distance from God.  God as the maternal aspect.  Jesus as the one who called God ABBA, papa, the loving God, not the ruling patriarchal God.  
What is love.  
There are those who worship Darwin and Freud but won’t countenance Moses or Jesus. 
If I contemplate Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit, the three persons in one, the family God, the Alpha Omega, perhaps I can find insight into my own being. Jesus is a child God.  The message of Christianity is equality.  Not a warlord or a ruler but rather an outcast.  The message of forgiveness is there too.  Sacrifice and service too.  
Spirituality is at the core of all religions.  Spirituality is God man. Religion is man made.  The more deeply one contemplates the relationship of God and man and man and man the more meaning and direction is found.

Ethiopia - Addis Ababa - Homesick

I dreamed of Gilbert last night. He was blind and playing with several little dogs, having the time of his life. There was a new clinic on Kingsway and the girls had painted everything in bright purple and pinks and radiant greed, bright African colour motif.

I enjoyed talking with a former stewardess last night, telling me of her travels in Ethiopia with her 18 yo son. Standing outside the church waiting for my ride, we were accosted by staggering drunks.  To get away she lead me into her car and asked her driver to wait to my ride arrived. I was thankful for that.  But also I got to say “I saw drunks in Ethiopia.”  I’ve not gone out at night so that’s probably mitigated against my exposure. In Athens I saw men shooting up on the streets like Vancouver. Here, this was my only encounter.  

I realized I’d not had work dreams  In weeks now, no nightmares either.  

This trip has been good that way. I love that I want to go home. I love that I’m thinking of Gilbert. I love that I’m thinking of the amazing women I know that make things better. I was sharing about the death of my father, mother and brother and choked up.  Grief is ever fresh though the despair may pass. 

 I ‘m looking forward to seeing the guys too, those hunters and fishermen’s and family guys I’m blessed to know.  I’ve a Canucks game to attend.  I don’t even care about the snow. I ‘m looking forward to the spring motorcycling and camping in the mountains beneath the pine and spruce by the running mountains streams.  Laura and I love BC camping.  

It’s dry and hot here. We are blessed with out abundance of water.  I’m looking forward to going to my church on return, to the Mexican restaurant after and having a lazy Sunday afternoon reading and walking Gilbert.  

I will forever remember Lallbella and am so thankful for Dean Peter Elliott’s maintenance of Christ Church.  Sacred buildings are important. It’s sad that so many of the great old churches of Canada are not being maintained, being decommissioned and going their way. I love the vision of King Lallibela. 

I think I’ll get dressed. I’m still a bit weak and tired but the best Best Western Breakfast is calling me.  Also the hot shower.  

Monday, February 18, 2019

Mental Health Problems - the Diagnostic Formula

Mental health is the ability to


What is wrong with the patients Love Life?
Love life refers to significant other, children, parents, friends, acquaintenances, pets.
Mostly in my experience people have had a deficit in relationships, specifically low in quantity and quality.
But they resist change.  
The workplace was once a way of making friends as was the neighbourhood but increasingly these are sterilized by politically correct legislation reminiscent of ‘class’ distinction of a bygone era.  
The apartment has become a home entertainment place where people isolate and addictions grow.  
Clubs, churches, synagogues, temples, 12 step programs, service groups, volunteer organizations are all places where people can meet and make new friends and make new love but this requires effort.  So the obese person shows up at the doctor seeking a pill to cure their gluttony and sloth. The depressed person seeks a pill to make them attractive and cause them to have a ‘life’.  Yet it’s nearly impossible for a person ‘stuck’ to progress. There needs to be a stimulus.  Most go to work to pay the rent but beyond that cling to bare existence hoping that change will not be necessary.

What is wrong with the work life?

Work is not just a place to make the money to pay the rent and food. It can be much more. Having work is central to positive self esteem and a sense of fulfillment.  People actually want to ‘feel good like their neighbour’ but not ‘work like their neighbour’.  Erick Erickson describe and ‘industry’ phase of childhood, preadolescnece, a time when children naturally tried and enjoyed a variety of activities. Wondering what one might do, one can merely ask what did one like to do 6-12 years old .  What were the interests then? What was the spark?  Having a job, any job, is better than no job is a better attitude than waiting for the perfect job.  Out of work one is ‘stuck’.  Working, one is able to be mobilized to seek better work.  Working doesn’t mean you can’t apply for better work. The potential new employer is simply informed that you have a job and are looking for better so that interviews and such can’t interfere with your existing employment.  Your present job doesn’t need to know you’re looking for a better job until the new job is in the hand.  Firm offers.  
What amazes me is that so many of those who aren’t complainers are found doing ‘adult education’.  It’s one thing to be in a job one doesn’t like it’s another to be taking positive steps to be upwardly mobile out of that job with further education.  If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel its easier to carry on than not.
What does one like about the present job. What doesn’t one like.  Many a time a change in manager has changed the job. Many a time a change in company despite doing the same task makes all the difference.  

What is wrong with the play life?

Many a person expects to be happy with out work or love?  They really do.  Addiction medicine is full of people who want a ‘free lunch’.  I’m never sure if this was a precursor of the development of addiction, the search for instant happiness, or followed the false sense of ‘instant gratification.’  Others put inordinate demands on their loved ones or their work life when a few games of golf, tennis, weekly swimming or running, or daily walks or membership in a soft ball team would round up an otherwise unhappy life.  

Ethiopia - Addis Ababa - Back Again

I caught a summer cold, bronchitis. Spent a day in bed resting in Axum.  I’ve flown back to Addis Ababa.  Ethiopia Airlines with their Bombadier Q400 jets are a delight.  I’ve returned to Best Western Plus Addis Ababa and am very happy to be here.  I’m on the 9th floor on the other side of the building with a better view.  Also I have a balcony.
 The girl at the front desk spoke 6 languages. I’d witnessed her speak three while she was waiting on me so asked. 6 languages.  I’m amazed.
I had thought to spend a night here and fly overnight to Gondar coming back on Wednesday but it’s just too much hustle. I’m rather tired out with this cold and travel so I’m going to enjoy what’s available around Addis.  Gondar is famous for it’s palace and a grand old church with ancient manuscripts.  There was civil unrest outside of Gondar so I wasn’t able to drive there as planned but could fly in. The town is safe.
It’s some sort of celebration occasioned by the latest war.  Last night there was lots of horn honking and noise making. Today the television has repeated speeches and wreath laying.
It’s been a whirlwind so I’m glad for this vacation to slow down a notch and enjoy
Just had lunch, lamb Tibs with injerah downstairs with Elias. If I’m feeling better tomorrow I may drive out to an old church and Menelik old palace on a hill nearby. I also emailed Abyssinian Balloning to see if they have anything available. Their first take off on their site is Friday.
There’s an English speaking meeting I’m going to at St Matthews Anglican Church at 6:30 pm.
These are just some pictures I’ve taken on the norther historic route that I don’t think I ve shared.

Axum camels
View from Best Western Addis

Best western Plus Addis
Guide Sabean Hotel Axum
Dawn view Sabean International Hotel Axum
Sabean International

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Ethiopia - Axum - Queen of Sheba - out and about

I’ve just come from Queen of Sheba’s bath and palace. It’s a grid of rocks and shows a very large palace was once there. This was only found not long ago and is more evidence of how much remains to be found.

My driver took me through the market.  I was amazed at the variety there. I saw camels. I liked that.  

Back at my hotel I walked across the street to where there was a lovely outdoor shaded table.  Unfortunately I was only there  minutes before an old wizened lady came up and demanded money and food. Shaking my head, repeating no would not stop her. Then a collection of 6 to 11 year old boys in uniform surrounded me eyeing my camera and iPhone.  It was all so uncomfortable that I escaped in doors where there were a number of men working quietly away on lap tops while others watch a television show of some modern Ethiopian war footage. Somerebels were being captured at gun point. It’s incongruous to see young men in short shorts laying down their weapons and holding their hands high.

I liked Lalibela better for the less intrusive salesmen. Here if I look at something the salesman begins chasing after me down the street trying to make a deal. It’s  annoying. It invariably has resulted in my not wanting to do any shopping here.  I was in an excellent shop,  St. Geoge’s gifts where I bought an Axum cross. Lovely man.  It’s the street vendors that are a trial.

Of course I have a summer cold and my tolerance is low so it may simply be my perception. Right now all the trucks are driving back and forth on the Main Street loaded with kids and young people.A cacaphony of blaring sound.

I’ve heard from one of the folk I talked with that the DERG were terrible but that it was for several years after the liberation that the killing persisted. Pay back I guess. Everyone I’ve asked tells me the present leadership is the best and that things have been getting better for a decade. 

There’s still such poverty.  Basic living.  Vans and trucks but very few cars. The Tuk Tuks prevail. There’s also lots of donkey pulled flatbed carts.  I’ve got a summer cold so am irritable and not good company for myself even. 

I will pray and meditate and have lunch. One of those should help.  Bicycles. It’s incredible watching the streets here. A man with 2 feathered chickens with the heads cut off walked by with one in each hand. A green camouflaged man carrying an AK followed. Then some kids in T-shirt’s with western inscriptions

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Ethiopia - Axum - the Sacred City

Leaving Lalibela on Saturday I passed all the people walking to the town for ‘market day’.  Lots of cattle, goats, sheep’s and laden donkeys and mules.  It’s astonishing how many miles people come from and how much they carry when they are walking.  This is a mountanous counrtry too. It’s not flat yet there’s a festive atmosphere and lots of laughter.  The sheep have long tails and the goats are really frisky.  Sometimes it’s a man with hooked cane or young girls walking behind the animals with a whisk. They seem to know generally to stay on the side of road.

At the airport there were several tour groups leaving, one before me and one with me.  I recognized Dutch and German and British accents.  Lots of older people my age and beyond.  

On the flight looking down I was struck by the deep ravines cut through the land.  Axum is Tigray’s main tourist hub. The Axumite empire once spread to Yemen and the Sudan.  I’m staying in The Sabean International Hotel and the culture of the Axumite Empire was Sabean. The earliest settlement was 7th century BC. The Axumite Empire peaked between 3rd and 6th century. Christianity was adopted as the state religion in 4th century.  St. Maryam Tsion was established then along with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Gudit, a Jewish queen in the 8th cntury destroyed the city and it’s Christian shrines.

Stelae Park has 120 odd stelae. 10 story finely engraved obelisks and rough hewn ones. The largest fallen one 13 stories, is 500 tons.  This was the 3rd century King Remhai.  Quite the feat of engineering. Not particularly religions, begun in pre Christian times and representing the wealth and power of the one who erected the stelae.There are subterrainean tombs here. The second largest had been taken by Mussolini during the Italian occupation but returned after that. The third largest is King Ezana’s who also was the King who adopted Christianity.

Behind Stellae Park is a pleasant informative Axum museum with odds and bits of archeological interest. They didn’t allow photography. 

Cathedral of Maryam Tsion is Ethiopia’s first church.  It was established in the 4th Century by King Ezana. The church was destroyed by the Islamic leader Ahmed Gragn in the 16th century though Queen Gudit had damaged it before. I was able to take a photograph of the foundation of the original church. The church with the beautiful paintings was built by Emperor Fasilidas in the 17th century. Women are not allowed in the compound.  Behind the old church was where the kings and emperors are crowned.

The largest church which Bradt Travel Guide for Ethiopia  described as ‘ugly’. was built in the 1960’s under Haile Selassie. I found it a beautiful church with the most amazing artwork and light open space.  

The most famous religious artefact, the Tabot, or Ark of the Covenant is currently kept in a sanctified building in the compound.  My guide left me with the church keeper and a monk who got the key to let me in.  These were delightful men proud and happy in sharing these spiritual treasures. I sat and prayed for a bit and felt that connection to centuries of worship. It’s incredibly uplifting to be here.

There was some mystery as to where the Tabot was and I didn’t get a clear answer but that it was or had been moved to another place for security. It was in one of the two churches in the compound. Only a priest is allowed to see the Ark.  There were three replicas in the compound too.  Security must be a major concern.  I was struck by the ‘Black Mary and Black Jesus’ painting.  

I didn’t go into the museum because they wouldn’t allow cameras and bags and I carry my iPad with me and just didn’t like the risk despite the guard and the locked container much like the airport safe boxes.  I was tired anyway and developing a summer cold or a brain tumor. I never know which until I get better.  It was also very hot and despite an hour of light rain the sun came out fully. I had 30 spf sun screen but still got a red face.

I’m here at the Sabean International Hotel after a good nights sleep about to go out to find Queen of Sheba’s Palace:

Stelae Park


St. Mary Tsion Church — Tabot - Ark of Covenant

New Ark of Covenant Church

1960’s Haile Selassie Church. Baptismal, a gift of Russia

Black Mary and Jesus

Loaner Canes for leaning against during standing only services

St. Mary Tsion Church - Ark of Covenant

Foundation of original 4th century church

Haile Selassie’s 1960 church

Throne where Emperor’s and Kings are crowned