Visiting Tigray




by Joakim Larsen

February 2016



A photo essay.

Turn up your speakers to enjoy the local music, Hankekley by the famous Tigrinia singer Korchach...



During my stay in Mekele I have made two trips out to small and quiet towns in the area, Hawzen and Abyi Adi. Hawzen is known especially for having been the target of the brutal acts of the former Derg Regime back in 1988, and for its rock-hewn churches in the beautiful Gheralta mountains. Abyi Adi, another small and quiet town, charmingly old and wonderfully located at the foot of a high plateau.





Gheralta Mountains


Gheralta Mountains



Large areas of Tigray region are farmland. Also around Hawzen. But not everywhere is the soil easy to work. Farming is done in the traditional way and the life as a farmer can be hard...




As I walked towards this small house right outside Hawzen, to photograph it, obviously, I was approached by an old woman. She came towards me without any hesitation, clearly unafraid. She was the owner of this house and wanted to see who I was...



As we shook hands and exchanged polite greetings, she decided that I should visit her. And with mind-strong resolution she led me through the yard and into the house where she sat me down. It was a humble place, no furniture except a traditional bed with a few old blankets.


I was seated on the dirt bench along the wall, covered with old sacks from USAID. She insisted on serving me injeera (the traditional flat bread), and before I had any say, she handed me a plate: injeera with berberi (a local chili-paprika powder). After I finished what was on the plate she gently and decisively told me it was time for me to go on.




I asked permission to photograph her, and she laughed with delight as she saw the result. "Come back another time" she said as she pointed me towards the village.




A young bull - obviously much too thin... resting in the shadow away from the burning mid-day sun.




Only about 150 Muslims live in Hawzen. And although the mosque is small, it is central to the area. Many Muslims come here to celebrate the holidays.




Late afternoon view from Hawzen.







Cactus trees...




Gheralta mountain in sunset.






Abyi Adi, an old town with beautiful, traditional, houses.




Around Hawzen all the plants have evil thorns.

But around Abyi Adi the flora is more "gentle" and lush.




Gentle bloom - no thorns...




Some of the traditional houses of Abyi Adi.




The details and colours in the traditional houses are wonderful.




Some of the wild life you spot outside Abyi Adi. Don't know what they are called, but they live in family clans and are very good tree climbers... Other wildlife are the many birds, monkeys and of course the snakes. Today I saw a big, broad jawed snake in white, grey and pale green nuances. 1,5 meters long, I think. It made a lot of noise as it came tumbling down the vertical cliff next to a large tree - it was obviously on the hunt. It stopped up, looked at me for a long time as if analyzing the situation, and then it decided I was neither a threat nor a meal. So it began climbing the tree in a slow but efficient way. It was definitely a strong hunter..




Selfie with Abyi Adi below in the sunset light.



Staircase leading to an upper plateau above the town.




Vertical stronghold...




G+1 traditional house in the center of Abyi Adi.



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