Next Stop? The Horn of Africa!


March 29, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

My upcoming departure for the Horn of Africa reminds me of  Haile Selassie and Abebe Bikile and the dramatic events and the enduring personalities of the 1960's.

Who among us can ever forget the sounds and images from late November, 1963: the gunshots in Dallas, the bloodied dress, Walter Cronkite's tears, the murder of the murderer (?), Chopin's music, a boy's salute to the flag covering the coffin of his father, the rider-less horse?
Do you remember the funeral procession of John Kennedy - heads of state in a solemn march? Le Président de la République française, Charles de Gaulle at 6'5" (1.96 m) walking beside and towering over the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie at 5'1¾" (1.58 m).

De Gaulle died in his bed in 1970. But Selassie?

The opening sequence of the film "Marathon Man" features the archive footage of a graceful young athlete, on a summer evening in 1960, effortlessly running the 42km (26 mi) Olympic marathon, gliding past the Coliseum and along the darkened, torch lit avenues of Rome, sprinting toward the finish line at the Arch of Constantine. Abebe Bikile became the first black African to win a gold medal at an Olympics event. 

North Ethiopia: Holy Week

Addis Ababa



9 Miaziah 2003 (Ethiopian Calendar)

17 April 2011


Dear Family and Friends,


Ethiopia is a religious society - serious, thoughtful, and never sanctimonious. From my observations of the worshippers and the icons, paintings, carvings and decoration, I have the sense that religion here is a positive, optimistic and loving force.   I hear or see almost nothing of sin, or guilt or damnation.


What I do hear from everyone is a sincere “G-d bless you” and “G-d be with you.”

North Ethiopia: The Historical Route: Addis, Aksum, Gondar


The Lonely Planet guidebook recommends an itinerary called "Ethiopia's Historical Circuit:" ...

 “The historical sights along this loop north of Addis Ababa are monumental in both scale and detail.  The journey, although spectacularly scenic, is monumental in itself, covering at least 2500km (1500 miles).” *

And so I followed the historical circuit, (not a loop, but more of a crisscross of my own choosing) from Addis to Axum, Lalibela, Gonder, and Bahir Dar.<--break->

Gonder: Passover and the Jewish Community

Amhara Region
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
April 20, 2011

Gary Metzger
Administrative Director
NACOEJ – North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Metzger,

cc: Family and Friends

Thank you for providing me with the contacts at the Jewish Community in Ethiopia.  Asher and Rabbi Waldman from Israel were generous hosts.

The Ethiopians in the Jewish Community were welcoming and kind.  Despite the difficulty of their lives, everyone was smiling and eager to meet me – especially the children.

North Ethiopia: The Historical Route - Rock Hewn Churches of Tigray

Hawzien Plain

Gheralta Mountains

Tigray Region


April 13, 2010

The rock-hewn churches of Tigray number in the dozens and are scattered throughout the flat-topped, round-topped, spindle-topped spires of the Chain Mountains and the Gheralta Mountains.

Several, if not most of these one thousand five hundred year old churches are inaccessible to all but the most hardy.  Toe holds, hand holds, steep climbs followed by ladders and ropes and pulleys are all part of the adventure.

I attempted the rocky climb at Debre Domo but the sole of my boot unglued.   Instead of the hike, I waited in the shade as a local construction worker mended my shoe with a long, hooked needle and a skein of strong thread.