From Rita Churchill, Vulnerable Children volunteer
What an interesting day! We drove from Ambo to Nakemte over road under repair. It took us 5.5 hours to travel about 230 kms. They are constructing the whole road at the same time – completely upgrading it. So we would travel about 100 – 350 m on good paved road interspersed with long section of either rocky base or dry, dusty red soil over the base. There are many deep, mostly dry, gullies that have to be crossed. We took pictures of the cement and rock abutments, all in different stages of completion. The modern road construction equipment were a stark contrast to the workers breaking rocks with a pick or carrying each rock by hand to lay it in the correct place as the abutments are constructed.
The landscape is wide, gently rolling valleys surrounded by hill / mountains. I have no idea what the elevation is. At first glance it looks so pastoral and peaceful. But then you begin to notice the overgrazed fields; the dust raised behind the metal-tipped, wooden plows drawn behind a pair of cattle; the soil eroded from around the bases of many of the bigger trees; and the lack of understory through any forest near to a community.
This area is not as devoid of trees as the area closer to Ambo. Sintayehu, our guide and friend, mentioned that up to twenty years ago the area was quite forested. However the farmers have dug up most of the trees to create fields for crops and grazing.
As we got closer to Nakemte the ficus trees kept drawing my attention. They are enormous! And so beautiful. The bark is a lighter tan colour while the branches take off in any direction, searching for the sun. I tried to take some pictures that show not only their beauty but also their size…