|The road from Mekele to Wukro|
Whilst staying in Mekele, Ethiopia earlier this year, we made the half-day trip to see Abraha We Atsbeha church, just beyond the town of Wukro. Once again, the scenery en route was spectacular.
|Abraha We Atsbeha church|
My guide book tells me that the church dates from the 10th century and that it is one of the finest in Tigray. It also informs me that the well-preserved murals, which adorn the interior walls, date from the 17th and 18thcenturies. I’m quoting from the ‘Lonely Planet’ because the guide who accompanied us on this particular trip was hopeless! He didn’t volunteer any information, couldn’t answer any of our questions, and left us to our own devices to look around. Fortunately, he was the only bad one we had in five weeks touring Ethiopia. The church’s interior was certainly impressive, although, by this point in our journey, I think some of us were getting a little ‘churched out’.
|The view from the church|
|A priest on the church steps|
|Tree under which village meetings are held|
Back down in the village, after walking up to the church, our hapless guide tried to organise coffee for us. We all perked up at the mere thought of it, but, sadly, he couldn’t find anyone who was willing to make us any! So, we got back on the truck and headed into Wukro for lunch. Here, our guide redeemed himself by taking us to a traditional restaurant which was actually very good! We were served a tasty chicken broth to start with, followed by spicy lamb tibs which was accompanied, thankfully, by bread or injera – I opted for bread! We finished with the longed-for coffee!
|Christie parked outside Wukro museum|
After lunch, things got a little surreal with a visit to the newly-opened Wukro museum. It opened in November 2015 and we were probably amongst the first paying visitors. Despite being very new, though, everything was already covered in a thick layer of dust, including the toilets, which had no water in them! The museum is a German-funded project and there are elements you would expect to see in any modern European museum. The information boards which accompany the exhibits are clear and in English – only English! The facility is clearly not meant for local people to see!
|Wukro main street|
What is displayed at the museum amounts to a strange collection indeed. The first room you come to houses a huge generator which once served to provide power for the town. An explanation of when and how electricity came to Wukro accompanies it. It’s not clear why it is displayed here. It bears no relation to all the other exhibits which are Aksumite relics. We were shown around by the museum manager, who was keen to point out everything, even the grassy area in the middle of the buildings where visitors could sit! Every room we came to was locked and every time we had to wait while he tried every key on his huge bunch until he found the correct one! He even showed us the store room and the workroom which the German curators had used when they were cataloguing the exhibits and which now housed cleaning materials! All in all, it was a bizarre afternoon!