We arrived in Dire Dawa early in the morning. We went to the church and set-up for the GLS. After several hours we were almost ready. The technology, my responsibility, was working. The computer and video projector were tested and working. The sound technician for the church was not available, so I was a little nervous, but had to wait until the next morning to connect the sound system. The conference books were sorted, the name tags ready, registration was set-up and it appeared that all of the logistics were in order.
We went to lunch with a good feeling that we only had about an hour of work left to do. We walked the block back to the hotel and sat down to lunch on the patio. It was hot, but a whispy breeze made it almost tolerable. We ordered food and were waiting for it to arrive when a nice young man stopped by our table. He addressed our translator, Israel, in Amharic and then strolled away. We asked, "What did he say?" Israel answered, "He is a local tour guide and asked if we needed help."
We had a quick conversation and realized we might have some time to see something and so Israel went after him and brought him back to the table. We asked about the rock paintings of the area. He told us how long it would take to get to them. The conference lasted until 5 PM each day and we realized we could not make it given that time. We were a little discouraged. Then we realized. We are going to finish today by 3:30 PM. We can make it. We quickly finalized the plan and sent everyone to their tasks.
At 3:30 we gathered at the hotel. Our guide had rented a four wheel drive vehicle. We piled in and drove hard out into the wilderness. About 4:50 we parked the car and started to hike. Twenty five minutes later we arrived. The site was unguarded and open. We walked right up the the caves that were covered with these ancient rock paintings. They said they were 7000 years old. Time and decay were taking their toll. A huge 18 wheeler sized portion of the rocks and recently collapsed. Kids had come and scraped off some of the images.
We were back in the car by 6 PM and headed back to town. It took an hour longer to return because we had a flat tire and had to dodge camels in the road and it was incredibly dark. We saw only one other vehicle during four hours we were off the pavement. This might be the most remote spot I have ever traveled. It is hard to get to in Ethiopia.
As we were walking back to the car we saw a cell phone tower on the ridge opposite the cave paintings. Two technologies on opposite sides of time, but both with the same goal, communicate with others. There, on the edge of civilization, people have the same essential needs to be heard, to matter, to reach out and make a mark on the world. Here people are no different. People must find others and form community. We cannot go it alone. Why not reach out and communicate to someone, they need you.