A walk in the Ethiopian Highlands

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One of the most extraordinary contradictions of expectation is of how beautifully green and lush the Ethiopian countryside is. It continually varies as you travel through the mountains, hills and valleys, the vibrant greens of the farmlands to the wild flowers of the highland peaks. Gaping geological fault lines follow the roads up through the valleys into wooded hills and down again past small farming villages of thatched roofed mud cottages.

The team, setting up the computer room at Bethany school, took time off to walk in the hills to the east of Bekoji. Looking back from the road that winds up to the hill tops, the country side could be anywhere in Europe but without any hint of modern buildings or industrial units. The higher points are covered in coarse grasses and heathers. The smell of the wild herbs, used to make teas and medicines, is pungent yet delightfully fresh. Round granite boulders seem to stand around here and there, awkwardly, as though not really belonging.

At over 3,000 metre high it’s easy to get short of breath. Maybe the team would have been even shorter of breath if the guides that had pointed to the pack of large brown foxes, had mentioned, as they did later, that they were in fact local hyenas.