We call our taxi driver friend and ask him if he’ll take us to another of Ethiopia’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, Tiya.
“Of course my friends! I’ll be at your hotel in ten minutes!”
Next thing we know, our little taxi is racing through Addis and out into the Ethiopian countryside on a two hour journey to our destination. I sit back and try to process all I’ve experienced thus far as we drive through the beautiful country.
The landscape is endless fields and farms over slow rolling hills. Acacia trees rise like Gothic warriors from a century long gone. Our taxi driver tells us that most of Ethiopia’s economy is based on agriculture, and almost all the fields we see are plowed and harvested just as they have been since the beginning of time, by hand.
As we get close to the town that we think is by Tiya, our driver tells us he isn’t sure where to go and he must stop and ask for directions. It is late afternoon, and only a couple of people are on the road. Luckily, a man sees us pull off to the side of the road, and approaches.
Amazingly, the man is the gatekeeper of Tiya. He just closed up, but has no problem opening the gate back up for us to see the site. I marvel at the luck we have had while here. The man climbs in the taxi with us, and directs us up a small dirt road. Little naked children run alongside our taxi, smiling brightly.
“This seems like a strange location for a UNESO World Heritage site”
There is no grand parking lot, nor shops set up to entice foreigners. Only a single gate that leads to a field. As we pass the gate, the ancient stones are visible.
The site contains 36 monuments, including 32 carved stelae covered with symbols, most of which are difficult to decipher. They are the remains of an ancient Ethiopian culture whose age has not yet been precisely determined. It is small, but to me that is what makes it special. As an approaching rainstorm threatens, I wonder about the significance of Tiya…
Place of Worship?
Sacred meeting place for important leaders?
We were only there for maybe half an hour, then headed back again for the long drive back to the city of Addis Ababa. I roll down the window and capture my surroundings and the simple wonder that was my journey to Tiya.