Napier Trek - Victory March
Wed 26 Nov
The final push for the historical objective of Magdala; a morning of "up" mostly on loose stone against a continual stream of market bound merchants and precariously laden donkeys. Somehow the effort seemed easier today maybe it was the burn for the "finishing line" Magdala is a mountain with three plateau-ed high points. It was used as a fortress by Emperor Theodross and was the scene of his final battle. On top, we found a 20 tonne cannon Theodross had invested his hopes in only to be dashed when the casing split on the first firing. Also up there were a couple of taps supplying good drinking water installed with the help of Save the Children UK which suggested that by some geological phenomenon it had a large natural supply on top of the mountain, ideal for a fortress.
We were to camp on one of the other tops, where Theodross had his palace. I let the others go ahead and got invited into a local home. It was a round hut about 15m in diameter and 5m high. It had doors at the front and back, a cooking area, food store and two beds. Of course I was offered chai and food.
On the way to camp I stopped again and tried photographing winnowing in action. The man kept stopping to pose so I kept putting the camera down. It was a curious but amicable relationship but after 30mins I got what I wanted and tipped him for his cooperation.
Before sunset we had a fantastic walk around the tabletop plateau of our camp (about 1km by 0.5km). The view out across the escarpment was stunning. The late afternoon sunshine was soft and gorgeous. We saw gelada baboons, bats, all sorts of birds; and also heard hyena.
That night at my request we slaughtered another sheep. This was at our expense (US$10) as I had been unwell at Kon when Solomon had provided the previous one. Of course the clients only see a small proportion of the meat so itís also a way of saying thank you to everyone around.
Thu 27 Nov
We left our tents for the last time but still had a four-hour walk across another mercilessly deep gorge to the town of Tenta where we presumed to find cold beer and our waiting vehicles. I had lagged behind for most of the descent and then for some reason eagerly went ahead. It may have been a determination to get the hard hot trekking over and done with or possibly the desire for an ice-cold beer. Whatever, I slipped into town unnoticed, ahead of the mules and 15mins before the others.
It was great to take the walking boots off once and for all and the beer did not disappoint. There was a growing crowd of fascinated faces at the gate which one of our drivers shooed away occasionally. By the time Michelle arrived her own entourage was so great that I think every child in town came along just to see what everyone else was starring at. With no allusions to our musical talents I think we got a taste for what itís like for pop stars or royalty being whisked away in flashy vehicles while crowds waved us farewell.
Napier Trek - Victory March