We sat among them (and some cattle) grazing on the hills of the Simien Mountains, and watched these gelada baboons as they fingered the earth for roots and seeds. More often than we cared for, they made monkey love. I was most embarrassed photographing this (how could I not?!) in front of local children who stopped to watch the strange faranga excitedly crawl among the animals.
We climbed over four thousand-meter mountains to catch a glimpse of the elusive ibex with its majestic horns, and finally captured a bearded vulture we had been chasing since South Africa.
At night we camped next to a fire – the local children sold us wood and joined us for some biscuits and marmalade. When they don't beg for it we want to give more. We didn't count on it, but it turned out we had to feed our guide as well. He and his daily wage were forced on us by the park under the excuse that he must show us the way or we will get terribly lost - never mind the fact that there was only one road. He came and went as he pleased, often ignoring meeting times we agreed on, but promptly showing up for our simple meals of ramen noodles and canned tuna.
At times, less often than I would think I'd need it, I seek solitude. It has nothing to do with my travel mates or the country I am in – I just want to run ahead, or fall behind, and listen to the world alone – pretending this planet is mine, and mine only. I don't like to share. In the Simien I got the same familiar urge for freedom and loneliness. I jumped out of the car when we were about to reach our next and final camping site in that area, and saying I must follow a gelada troop I'd noticed, I ran into the forest with my camera cocked and ready. Unfortunately, I only got to steal a few short minutes before a local kid, and then a man with a gun, both sent by the guide for my safety, barged into my cozy bubble and followed me close. Nevertheless, I did manage to steal a moment and that was more than enough as in those few minutes that I found myself alone in the forest, an hour before sunset, geladas decided to run through the same exact clearing on which I was standing in the shade of trees. They ran through the forest and through pouring golden sunlight and through me.
Simien Mountains Gallery