Thanks to Forrest Copeland fir the following useful updates:
•The road between Mekele and Adwa (via Abi Aday and Tembien) is now paved. There are still a few small stretches that are under construction, but the project should be finished by the end of 2014. It’s nicccccce.
•My 5th edition refers to Awri dancing. The name should be: Awrs. As stated it’s known all over Tigray and represents serious Tembien pride!
•The town description could be revised: Abi Aday literally means ‘Big Town’, and although not quite the metropolis this might suggest, it is a reasonably substantial and seemingly quite rapidly expanding settlement, set in a dusty valley below an impressive cliff. The town is generally divided into three parts. Kebele 01 is the oldest section of town and holds the old market, tej bets, and the newly paved road to Mylomin. Kebele 02 is the center of town and contains the bus station, the large new market, banks, many restaurants, bars, and cheap pensions. Kebele 03, also known as Adigdi, is a rapidly expanding suburb on the way to Adwa. Starting at the crest of the hill, where you’ll find the hospital, Ras Alula Hotel, and the Mylomin Botanical Garden Lodge, Adigdi continues for 1 kilometer to the College of Teacher’s Education. Besides offering a base from which to explore Mylomin, a lushly vegetated oasis nestled below sheer sandstone cliffs along the river Tonkwah. Visitors can take outdoor showers and enjoy food and drink in the cool shade at the day lodge.
•Getting there and away: This is still accurate except that the road is now paved with beautiful new asphalt. Using public transportation, it will take you about 3 hours to get to either Adwa or Mekele from Abi Aday. By private car, less than 2 hours. Mini-buses and large buses run to both destinations multiple times per day approximately every 2 hours.
•Where to Stay: These are still good recommendations. Prices have of course increased. I would add the Mylomin Botanical Garden Lodge in the Moderate category. Description could be: Located near the Hospital and Ras Alula hotel, this secluded and overgrown compound offers about a half a dozen individual huts that can be rented for the night. Each cozy and well furnished hut contains a private bathroom, but running water is hit or miss. The English speaking staff can help arrange tours and car rentals to the surrounding churches.
•Where to Eat: The best places for Ethiopian food are Elsa’s Restaurant located near the main traffic circle, or Azeb’s Restaurant located opposite to the bus station. Both the Mylomin Day Lodge and the overnight lodge offer full menus that include some ferenji food. Abi Adi has a few juice shops and one of them, opposite to the Wegagen Bank, has an unexpectedly articulate and helpful English speaking owner. Abi Adi is famous for its honey and tej; the best place to try it is in the shade of coffee trees along the river Tonkwah opposite to the Mylomin Day Lodge.
•The information for the Abba Yohanni and Gebriel Wukien Churches is still good. I haven’t visited the other two. I paid 150 birr each for these two churches. There was no mention of TTC guides or permits, in fact the only reference I’ve heard of this system is in your book. The going rate for a other rock hewn churces is 150 birr each. This includes: Abunna Yemata (Hawzien), Abraha we Atsbha (near Wukro), and all the churches in the Teka Tesfai cluster. Those are the ones I’ve visited in the last 6 months. It’s too bad, as you noted, because it’s really too expensive for some of the less spectacular churches.