It's more than a little unfair that many Americans only remember Ethiopia for its devastating drought and famine during the 1980s, but as Majka Burhardt discovered, Ethiopia, one of the oldest nations in the world, is so much more. Unlike many other countries in Africa, Ethiopia does not yet have a booming tourism industry despite having a plethora of natural beauty and culture. The remoteness attracted Burhardt, who in March 2007 set out to explore the Gheralta, a sandstone mountain region, with three female friends. In Vertical Ethiopia, she documents her experiences climbing uncharted mountains; many of its valleys still host the remains of settlements dating back to the third millennium B.C., with impressive towers reaching far skyward, much like the adventurers themselves. She also recalls the residents of the area she encountered along the way, including guides, artists, and friendly children. Her travel writing, along with arrestingly beautiful photography, manages to capture a country that not only was the "cradle of life" millions of years ago, but, like the rest of the world, is continuing to grow and evolve culturally, geologically, and historically.
Sun., April 27, 1 p.m., 2008