Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wrapping up Timket Festivities.

Clergy leading the Timket procession of the Arks.

Our day started with morning mass at the Palace Pool. That was followed by breakfast back at the hotel with a short rest break. Then, it was back to the hotel to meet up with Haile. One thing I have to say about this tour group is that everyone always arrives on time which means we always get to leave on time.

Back on the street, Haile led us down a street back to the same square that we were at when we watched the procession of the Arks going to the Palace. This time, he took us up to the balcony of the Quara Hotel, located just across the street from the viewing terrace that we were at yesterday.  I found out that the terrace we were at was at Gondar's City Hall.  Today, the balcony is the outdoor dining area for the hotel's restaurant. We would be having our lunch here but inside as the balconies on the table had already been reserved for another group. No matter, we took up spots along the edge of the balcony so we could watch the procession.

Our view of the street from the balcony.

We had the perfect spot to do some people watching from.  I loved the women, all dressed in their Sunday best.

Umbrellas are a popular way to shield from the sun' s rays.

Unlike yesterday when we were sitting out in the sun,  today we were waiting in the shaded comfort of awnings.

Crowd beginning to build.  Even nearby balconies were filling up.

As always, I find myself standing or sitting behind someone else. I've gotten very good at finding spots to squeeze my camera and I into :-)

Yes, the madness began with the now familiar floats.  As veterans of the parade, we knew it would be some time before the choirs, clergy and Arks would arrive.

The view from where I was standing.  As the crowd builds, so does the noise level.

While we waited, I got interviewed by this man who said he was representing the official tourism department of Gondar.  I don't know if that was really true or not though his badge did give him a bit of credibility.  I was being filmed as he asked me questions about what I though about Gondar, Timket and Ethiopia in general. After he finished interviewing me, he interviewed a German tourist who had just arrived into town.   I wonder where the footage will show up?

Umbrellas!  The tell tale sign of arriving clergy and Arks.

It took a steady hand and a zoom lens to see the bishops and their crosses.

Clergy and Arks making their way along the procession route.  A mass of umbrellas and people behind them.


The flotilla of umbrellas shielding the clergy and the Arks.

With my zoom lens, I managed to get a few good shots of the clergy resplendent  in their colorful robes and elaborate headdresses.  Several were carrying their processional crosses.  Even the umbrellas, that shielded the clergy, were beautiful.

It's a mad sea of joyous participants and spectators!

The sights and sounds of Timket.

At this point, the balcony was getting so crowded, I was having difficulty finding a spot to see the procession let alone take photos or video.  I decided to back off and try and find another a better vantage point and I lucked out with the hotel bar which was located to one side of the balcony.  The place was pretty empty.  There were two windows and there were people occupying both.  At one of the windows, I spotted two light brown heads - Caucasians.  I decided to approach them.  First thing was just to say hello.  When I got the same word back in a North American accent, I knew I was in luck.  At least I could ask if I could take a peek out the window.  That was my next question.  The young woman graciously offered me her spot and I took few minutes to capture the following photos and video.  I then thanked her and took a few minutes to chat with her.  She introduced the man standing next to her as her father and that they are from Toronto, Canada.  Of course, I had to tell them that I spent four years in Kingston studying at Queen's University.  It's such a small world!  The twosome travel every year to Africa, visiting one or two countries at a time.  This year, Ethiopia and Malawi were on the list. They were the friendliest pair of tourists and I enjoyed my brief time with them.

Here are the photos and videos that I managed to get from the window.

For a quick few seconds, I managed to catch a glimpse of the bishops with their boxlike headdresses.

Umbrellas and participants dressed in white - a true Timket sight!

At one point, the procession stopped and there was a brief service.  The clergy were lined up in two rows facing the bishops and the Arks.

Unfortunately, I panned the video too quickly but in addition to the male clergy swaying at the words of the sermon, there were two groups of nuns, dressed in all white,  standing nearby doing the same thing.

Another video clip of the same scene taking a few minutes later.

The clergy, that started in the front row, gave way to the clergy standing behind them.  Beautifully outfitted in white robes embellished with images of Ethiopian churches, they soon got to swaying as well.

Clergy from the 13 churches gathered before the bishops and the Arks.  It was quite a sight to behold!

After taking this shot, I decided I better hook back up with the rest of the group. When I got back to the balcony, they were no longer there so I walked towards the restaurant and saw Haile walking towards me.  Poor guy.  He knew he was missing a person and came in search.  I should have told him where I was going when I left the balcony area.  I reminded myself to be mindful of informing people of where I am.

Lunch was ho hum tourist buffet fare.  After lunch, we headed back to the hotel where we had a couple of hours break - enough time for me to write up the words for this posting.  Just as well to be inside as the mercury in the thermometer is reaching very warm temperatures.  Next on the itinerary is to do sightseeing in Gondar.

Timket was an amazing festival of Ethiopian pomp and circumstance.  The morning mass was unlike any I've ever been too and the processions were filled with color, dancing and lots of joyous sounds.  I can understand why this is such a popular occasion for Ethiopians.