So… Where’s the trail? by Pang Matet

The group woke up early this morning to visit the Orthodox church up the street from our hotel. The church looked so beautiful as the morning sun highlighted the carvings on the walls. As we got closer we could see the fine details of these hand carvings which we learned took 20 years to complete.

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Hand carved pillars.

Carefully hand carved pillars.

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The people of Ethiopia are very religious and devoted and we were able to witness this devotion today at the church as we watched them worshiping and praying along the walls of the church as well as kissing the ground before entering. YIrga told us that some even begin worshiping at 5 a.m. and may not finish until 3 p.m. Currently, members of the church are fasting, our driver Abel being one of them. There are 7 different fasting periods during the year all with varying durations. The group was so fascinated and thankful that we had the opportunity to see this part of the Ethiopian people’s lives.

The next thing we had planned was a hike… on the mountains surrounding Dessie. From the city it doesn’t look too challenging but the group was in for a wake up call. We began our trek up the mountain and within minutes many of us were already out of breath. We were determined to make it to the top so we continued on, making sure to take pictures of the view and see how far we’ve hiked. We were all surprised to discover that Dessie was larger than we had thought. Sweating and tired, we finally made it to the top and what a view!

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Yirga fearlessly climbing a tree to get an unique photo taken. It was his first time up here since moving to Dessie 6 years ago, so he didn't want to forget this experience.

Yirga fearlessly climbing a tree to get an unique photo taken. It was his first time up here since moving to Dessie 6 years ago, so he didn’t want to forget this experience.

Libby, Tau'Toya, Katie, and Taryn.

Libby, Tau’Toya, Katie, and Taryn.

The cute little boys we met on our hike.

The cute little boys we met on our hike.

After snapping a few selfies and pictures, we began our descent. “The hard part is over,” we all thought but oh were we wrong. The descent proved to be somewhat challenging for some of us as we tried to step in the right places so we didn’t slide off the mountain. The trail zig-zagged across the side of the mountain and was covered in loose rocks and dirt that made the path hard to distinguish so many of us repeatedly asked “So… where’s the trail?” With help from the Ethiopian students and Solomon who seemed to have no trouble mastering the descent, we all eventually made it safely to the bottom and the only thing we all wanted was a nice bottle of wuha cascasa (cold water).

John and I trying not to look down.

John and I trying not to look down.

"You can't fall if you're already on the ground," was the motto for the climb down. You can see Devon in the back laughing at and videotaping us.

“You can’t fall if you’re already on the ground,” was the motto for the climb down. You can see Devon in the back laughing at and videotaping us.

Solomon nonchalantly making his way down while the rest of us struggled.

Solomon nonchalantly making his way down while the rest of us struggled.

We have mastered the mountains of Ethiopia (survived I should say) and are looking forward to spending the day tomorrow measuring school children and doing dental exams.

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