By Zina Hemady
Photographs by Norbert Schiller
About 20 years ago, when I was a young working mother struggling to raise two children in Cairo, one of the world’s largest and most congested megacities, my husband suggested that we take a family vacation in Eritrea which he had visited as a journalist on several occasions. No matter how enticing his descriptions were of streets lined with charming houses built in Italian art deco style, my visions of a vacation were closer to the Swiss Alps than another country in Africa. After nearly a decade in Minneapolis, the perfect antithesis of Cairo in terms of the orderly but uneventful life that it offers, I was more than ready to take Norbert up on his offer. However, this time we didn’t quite make it to Eritrea, but our vacation destination was close enough – neighboring Ethiopia.
The tour was focused on the northern part of the country, the high plateau known as the “roof of Africa.” For 11 days, we visited churches built by the Christian empires of the highlands, attended one of the most spectacular and extensive Epiphany celebrations in the world, and wandered in the royal complexes of the country’s legendary kings and queens, including the ruins of an ancient site allegedly dating back to the 11th century B.C. rule of the Queen of Sheba. Our journey also took us to one of the highest mountain chains in Africa where we admired the spectacular view and bonded with a handsome and friendly species of monkeys that call these mountains home.
Following are two articles and two photo exhibitions covering different segments of the trip.