Ethiopian New Year 2004

No doubt you all realised yesterday was New Year 2004 in Ethiopia… yes? Well to tell the truth, I’m not sure I’d have known if I hadn’t received an invite to a New Year’s celebration from Timbé of the Pita Escuela.

Ethiopia still retains the Julian calendar and is 8 years behind the more western Gregorian calendar. New Year or Enkutatash is celebrated on 11 September or 1 Meskerem and the day starts at 6.00am unlike ours which starts at midnight.

Enkutatash means the “gift of jewels”. When the Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her bolts by replenishing her treasury with “inku” or jewels. The date traditionally marks the end of the season of heavy rains and is more recently or historically set by the return of the Queen of Sheba. Flowers and cards were traditionally exchanged, nowadays it’s often just cards.

Timbé serving coffee

The festivities at Pita Escuela began with a coffee ceremony; freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee was served in glasses / small cups from a tray decorated with flowers. This was accompanied with a delicious roasted seed mix and cake. After enjoying a few cups of the surprisingly smooth coffee, we were treated to a slide-show and short film about an orphanage, both detailing projects that Pita Escuela are committed to in Ethiopia.

A big part of the Enkutatash celebration is music and dance and Pita Escuela honoured that tradition. There was a nicely chilled musical jam to round of the evening. Saxophone, keyboards, percussion and bass in one harmonious union playing from the soul – Musicá del Alma.

Agavé together with Chumbos (Moon & Sun)

Now, as it was a full moon there was only one thing left to do and Timbé was good enough to show me around for some moonlight photography… without being attacked by wild boars. Yes, wild boars! We could hear them snuffling about as we were walking around.

The valley around Los Molinos del Río Aguas is fairly unique; an oasis of wonder in the Paraje Natural de Karst en Yesos de Sorbas. Without the spring waters which originate not far up the ravine (barranco) from the village of Sorbas, Los Molinos del Río Aguas probably wouldn’t have come into being. Rainwater percolates down through the gypsum rock beds (for which the area is famous) into underground pools from which it finds it way to the surface at the lowest point in the ravine. The bamboo cane along with many other species of succulent plant, thrives along the ravine  floor where the spring water flows to it’s destination, the sea at Mojacar.

Los Molinos del Río Aguas is an absolute photographer’s paradise offering a wide variety of lush vegetation and wild-life. Watch this space for details of Photography Experiences in this haven of beauty.

Please also visit http://www.edget.org for details of the Edget Baandnet Children Center project.

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