Yohannis Maikudi, Gheralta, Eastern Tigrai

John writes:

We did not expect the very unpleasant confrontation we were forced
into on the 14th of March 2013, as we went to visit the church of
Yohannis Maikudi situated some 30 km west of Wukro, in the beautiful
Gheralta region. It is located on a mountain ridge beautifully
overlooking the surrounding plain. We left our car near a large school
compound close to the foot of the hill and, as is customary, appointed
a local youngster as the guard for the car and chose another as our
“guide”. He would help us keep on the right path , as the church can
not be seen from the starting point, and would free us of the
“obligation” of having a guide. They would have stayed anyway.
As we were being followed by a cluster or other young boys to the foot
of the hill, we made it clear upon the start of our climb that we
needed one escort only, and that we would pay no one else. Most of the
kids turned back, but as we reached the church after about an hour’s
climb, it appeared that we were being accompanied by three or four
youngsters having caught up with our group and who had joined with the
“guide”.
We paid all the requested official fees at the entrance of the church,
and after the visit of this beautiful and intriguing very old rock
hewn church, we were kindly invited by the priests and the few members
of the community to share some talla and injera. It was three PM, our
time, and they were breaking their Lent fast.
It was a pleasant and friendly moment ended by kind words of thanks
and appreciation. Our translator mentioned later that the priests and
elders had indeed admonished the youngster and warned them not to be
troublesome.
Upon returning to our car, I had the impression that the talla had
worked its effect on the boys who seemed overly exited. But it was
when we started paying the watch boy and the guide that things went
abruptly wrong. Both claimed angrily that the amounts given were very
insufficient, although they were absolutely in line with the amounts
we had paid else where. We increased the payments somehow, but
suddenly the car was surrounded by other youngsters claiming loudly
that they had to be paid too. We firmly and clearly refused, keeping
to our initial contracts. But some boys set themselves in front of the
car to prevent us from leaving. We gently and firmly pushed them aside
by getting the car moving, only to be followed by a most unpleasant
group of adolescents unsuccessfully hurling stones at the car.
This incident was entirely out of line with our fond experiences in so
many other places and times. We discussed at length amongst us to find
out if we could have proceeded differently to prevent such a
disagreeable event. But reading Gabriella’s account https://bradtethiopiaupdate.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/bad-experience-at-teka-tesfai-churches-tigrai/, I now believe the mistake was not so
much on our side.

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