by Cinzia Perlingieri
I have worked in Ethiopia as an archaeologist for many years. After a long break, I went back this April as a study leader for the tour “Ethiopia: The Wonders of the Horn of Africa” organized by Far Horizons, a visionary and brave tour company based in California.
I didn’t expect that after so many years of work in Ethiopia, this country could still reserve surprises for me, but it did… Ethiopia is not the easiest place to travel to, it requires sense of adaptation and humor, and flexibility and compassion, like many developing countries where simply walking in your comfortable boots can be embarrassing. But it is a country full of memories, where you can tell a good story at every step of your way. And is a place where every stone has words to inspire you and your personal journey…
My role during our 15 days journey was of a study leader. As such I tried to provide scholarly information about monuments and museums that we were visiting. But also I wanted to provide a historical background for the sites visited and events told, in order to induce a deeper understanding in the participants and create a stronger memory of this amazing experience.
Ethiopia is the place that gave birth to the humankind, and after that first dawn continued to send waves of early humans out to populate the world. You can travel through a very large span of time. From the prehistoric Afar and Rift valleys, through the archaeological routes of the Northern Tigray in the region of Aksum and Yeha, where first Egyptians and then Romans traveled to acquire precious products for their tables and their temples; to the Medieval capitals of Lalibela and Gondar, where early Islam tried to settle and the European empires left their traces in the amazing palace architecture. You will walk through the incredible and intense ancient and modern church traditions, for which the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are probably the highest and most powerful expression.
Well, the journey was very successful and, as it happens during this type of travels, jokes, sympathy for each other’s little discomforts, and camaraderie are constant travel companions. But I really want to spend a few words to express my absolute affection and respect for the participants. Akemi, George, Elizabeth, Judy, Margaret, and Marian are retired professionals, passionate and interested travelers, that want to make the best out of their time. But above all, they are LEARNERS. People that are never tired of learning and experiencing even when it gets difficult, people that have never enough of life. They are proof that, as long as you are open to learn, there are myriad of places to see, stories to hear, activities to perform. I hope that my/our collaboration with Far Horizons continues and expands to embrace and respond more and more to the enthusiasm of those like-minded adventurers!