Last weekend had my second stay at the Gheralta Lodge, about two hours north of Mekelle. Last time I went was way back in December 2008. Out of the 10 of us we had 9 nationalities, with only Martin and I being from the same country, the rest from India, Pakistan, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Ethiopia and US.
On the Saturday afternoon we played rounders, using the bat and ball which have been sat at the back of my wardrobe for the past 18 months. There wasn’t quite enough of us to make up 2 teams, so we ended up making a cross between rounders and cricket which seemed to work after a few ‘discussions’ about what the rules should be (and rule changes half way through the game).
On Sunday morning, some of us stayed around the lodge playing frisbee and reading, whilst the rest went to visit one of th nearby rock churches. Those who had gone to the churches ha a hard time with the local ‘guide’ and priest. The cost of visiting the churches here has gone up to 100 birr, per person per church, up form 50 birr last year and 20 a couple of years ago. On top of this there are now ‘official’ guides who will charge 150 birr, then another fee just for climbing the mountain (even if you don’t use a guide or go in a church), then a final (variable) fee to get the priest to unlock the church door. All these charges and arguments about how much should be paid always spoil any visit and don’t encourage you to visit again, or recommend particular places to others.
So in the end I was quite pleased I didn’t bother with the church visit – it was one I’d seen before anyway – but it was great to get away from Mekelle, even if it was just overnight.