Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ethiopia November 2012 Day 4

Friday November 9th

It’s Friday morning and we awake for another early morning to make our 7:30am flight to Lalibela.  I had the opportunity to go to Lalibela with my mom and mother-in-law when we went to pick up Rahel in May 2011.  It is truly one of the great wonders of the world and a must see if you are ever in Ethiopia.

Of course we made a friend on our last trip, so I was excited to see Mario, our guide, again and introduce him to Nick and Caleb.  He is a super knowledgeable guy who grew up in the tiny town of Lalibela, running and playing in these amazing rock hewn churches that were built from the top down out of the mountains—it is amazing and pictures do not do it justice, so you’ll just have to go see it yourself.

The churches are said to have been built as commissioned by King Lalibela in just 23 years.  Angels are said to have helped those building and when you see these churches, it sounds like a logical explanation for how in the world they hand chiseled these churches out of the mountains—it is unbelievable.  The details are stunning and my favorite part about the churches is that they are all built to represent parts of Christ and the bible.  Everything from the windows, the orientation of the churches, the details inside, different types of crosses used throughout—they all have a meaning.  You definitely feel like you are standing on holy ground.

These are the chisel marks in one of the churches--hand chiseled-unbelievable!
The town of Lalibela is a lively place.  As you drive from the airport (read tiny one story building, open to the tarmac that you walk into and can see the exit about 20 feet ahead) you wind up steep cliffs (without guard rails) past very rural villages of traditional Ethiopian huts and farms.  Things are done here as they have been for hundreds of years with very little change.  It is a beautiful (and at times scary :0) drive and after about 30 minutes, we arrive in the town of Lalibela.

exiting the plane

Our "boarding passes"-no names, no seat assignments.....

on the way to our hotel

fields of teff-the flour used to make injera

 It’s out of another time, although tourism is quickly changing this.  There is lots of new hotel construction and the town is very welcoming of visitors.  I hope that Lalibela is able to remain authentic and as untouched as possible through all of this growth.

old constuction

and new

The boys played a little baseball before while we waited for Mario.

Mario meets us at our hotel-it is so good to see an old friend. We head to the churches and take the amazing and informational tour.

Nick and Caleb are awed, I take notes as not to forget this time all of the hidden meaning in these beautiful structures.

first church in group one--"The Head of Christ"

an original door

the priest in the first church bearing the Lalibela  cross

These are traditional tukol houses.

This was the last church built by Kind Lalibela.

an ancient tool box

Caleb taking his first short cut of the day.

Mario really loved Caleb.  They had a great day together “playing” in the churches.  At one point, he told Caleb that he was the only white boy in all of Lalibela—and it was true.  There are tourists, but Caleb was the only child visiting when we were there.

And then it’s time for lunch.

We've seen half of the churches by this time and we head to The Seven Olive’s restaurant-best in Lalibela-so yummy.  You can either walk there or take a taxi.  I decide we should walk—trying to be all healthy and active—so Mario says we should take the short cut.  Sounds good except that as we begin to climb (mind you we’re already at a high altitude—and Nick and I are hardly at our prime physical fitness level J) we realize that Mario’s “short-cut” is that we go OVER the mountain instead of around the mountain (well, some might call it a hill, but I’m pretty sure it was a small mountain).  I’m so glad that we walked, because you get to experience the town and the people so much more, but it pretty much kicked our tails.  The way back (down hill) was much more enjoyable.

outside the Seven Olives

After lunch, we spotted a monkey that we had seen driving in and stopped for a while to observe it and hang out with the local kids.

The monkey was fun to look at (from a distance), but at one point, he took a leap and nearly clung onto my back.  That’s when that adventure ended.

hanging out with his new friends

this little boy followed us quite a ways and kept asking us to take his picture

We finished up the tour of the second group of churches.

this cave is pitch black without the flash of a camera-it represents salvation
-coming through the darkness to get to the light

the close up

and far away--it's unbelievable that these churches were carved
from the top down out of these massive mountains

A fresco of Jesus in one of the churches.

This is my favorite church-it's attached at the top and bottom, but you
can walk all the way around it.

Then, we headed back to the hotel (the Mountain View Hotel—very nice and AMAZING views from your balcony).

 I’m pretty sure we could see every star in the sky that night.

Tomorrow, we fly back to Addis and gear up for our visit to Trees of Glory!!

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful... I hope we'll go next time we're in ET...