Our very best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season and a healthy happy New Year. For once it’s Mary who is beginning the Season’s Greetings because Vincent has been so very busy commenting on the latest IPCC report which is due in by 30/11/12, and we only returned from our latest trip (to Ethiopia plus a cruise) on 2/11/12.
Everyone asks “Why Ethiopia?” and I reply “Because I had never been there.” As a Life Member of the United Nations Association I have been trying to have visited up at least half of the 192 members, and even make it an even 100, which I now have more than done because the cruise took us to more than six new countries, the small island states on the east coast of Africa. However Ethiopia is a special country, really the
Picture of St George underground rock hewn
It has a fascinating history and is one of the few African countries which has never been colonised – the Italians tried in the 1930s but World War Two ended that effort.
are even more spectacular than Italy’s with fantastic Christian churches carved out of cliffs and the world’s largest stelae as part of the remains of the Aksumite kingdom which reigned from 400 BC to 500 AD and introduced Christianity to Africa.
So on the 24th of September we flew from Wellington to Addis Ababa on an Emirate Airways very fine plane, via Auckland, Sydney,
The total travel time was more than 24 hours and we were totally exhausted on arrival, the evening of the start of the Exodus two week tour of Ethiopia. They are the company which took us to Cuba in ’11 and North Africa in ’10 and we like them. There were only 17 in the tour group: 8 British, 4 New Zealand (the other couple were a New Zealand judge and his wife). 2 US ladies, one Australian, one Canadian, one South Africa and Gabriel our Ethiopian guide and the driver were in a good sized bus so we could each have a window seat if we wanted We stayed in very good hotels (bed & breakfast) and generally went out for dinner as a group to see the current town. When the group went off to trek to see the source of the Nile, or a mule trek in a tropical forest etc we happily stayed with the bus driver and wandered a bit on our own. We visited what remains of the Queen of Sheba’s palace, and saw the excavation work of German archaeologists on some of the churches. One monastery involved a boat trip on Lake Tana. We encountered several troupes of baboons and saw many strange birds.
It was a very nice cabin and all the facilities were luxury and the food was plentiful but too Italian. The TV put on three full length operas from Verona; Nabucco, Otellho (by Verdi) and Romeo and Juliet by Gounod. The scenery was just scaffolding.
In 21 days, 14 were “at sea” so we only visited on 7 of them They were Fujairah (an Emirate), Maldives, Seychelles, Reunion and Mauritius. Both the Maldives and the Seychelles have over a thousand atolls that have been fought over by Portugal, France and Britain and are now independent. Reunion and Mauritius are volcanic. Reunion is part of Metropolitan France (1) and independent Mauritius is mainly Indian. Mary had enquired with the Servas organisation we belong to about members in the countries we visited. And we met one in Addis Ababa another in Mauritius and no less than 8 who laid on a welcome in the central park of Victoria the capital. The bulk of the passengers were Italian, French, German and our language skilss were found to be lacking. We were lucky with our dinner companions, a British couple who were from Brisbane. The ship was very Italian and so was the entertainment. They spent most time on deck soaking in the sun. I got the impression everybody was economosing because of the European crisis. Most of the luxury facilities, the casino, the special restaurants, the shops were half empty.
I have had to give up playing the saxophones, clarinet and bassoon as my lip and fingers are not up to it. I sill try to have a go on the piano.
My computer self destructed. I think I must have ben hacked. I was suddenly asked for my “profile”, and my files could not be accessed. My computer friend tried everything but eventually gave up. Windows 7 computers were going for a good price and I am stiil having difficulties with my new one. One thing I have already noticed is the aggressive attitude of advertisers who try every trick to get you to buy things and dominate the search results.
This has led to a long delay in getting off this letter so we apologise most profusely and hope you did not think we had departed. I was 90 years old this year amd it is Mary’s turn next year, when we hope to have a joint celebration.
I am still going on Climate Change. I am the only hostile commentator on the latest IPCC Report who comments on every Chapter. They all used to be secret, but last year someone pulled the Official Information Act and they had to publish both comments and their usual non-response. This time they will not only will they have to publish, they will have to answer. But there are none. There is no evidence that extra carbon dioxide is harming the climate and I now believe there never wll be. But lots of people still believe there is and it is only slowly dawning on them. Temperatures are not rising and neither is the sea level.
I still run a small U3A Group called “Current Issues’”. I still watch recorded movies as the ordinary TV programmes are hopeless. I read Ëngland Made Me by Graham Greene , Doctor Zhivago, and Lady Anna by Trollobe on th cruise.
I sign off with two family pictures, one with Josephine and Jonathan, and Thomas’s birthday party.