Priest. West Meket, Ethiopia.
This is one of my favourite photos taken when I was community trekking some years ago in the western Meket area of Ethiopia. It gives a sense of the immensity of the mountain ranges there. The tiny ‘hut’ on the edge of the precipice was a small ‘dining’ room. At about 3000 metres above sea level, we huddled around a fire to keep out the chill of the mountain air, while eating a delicious vegetarian dinner.
The trek offered incredible views as we followed the escarpment edge and passed through the communities who hosted us in local guest houses . More than half of the cost of the trek goes to these local communities.
I have travelled to many UNESCO World Heritage sites. Zanzibar Stone Town in Tanzania, Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, the Medina of Fez in Morocco, Robben Island in South Africa, The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Grand Canyon in the USA, the rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia, Lavaux Vineyard Terraces in Switzerland (below), to name a few.
I wondered what the listing actually meant, so of course I googled it.
This got me wondering even more.
If these sites are to be passed on to future generations, why do we do so little when some are so threatened?
Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania
When I was trekking in Ethiopia a few years ago we passed a coptic church in the middle of the countryside on top of the plateau. The priest was walking along the track and stopped to greet us. He was happy for me to take a photo; something I don’t often do as I’m always a little embarrassed to ask. I was so taken by the calm and peace of this man that it was only later when I looked at the photo, that I really saw the beauty of his age etched face and rheumy eyes. I wondered what those eyes had witnessed in his lifetime.