Tuesday, March 20, 2012
A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to the city of Lalibela with my parents. This trip was exciting for two reasons. First, I hadn't seen my mom or dad for over a year. Second, I had seen photos of the stone churches of Lalibela and known of its '8th wonder of the world' status long before knowing I would ever travel to Ethiopia.
We started our trip at an airport,which surprised me in its appearance of seeming like a bus station,waiting for favorable currents in a crowd to bring us closer to boarding our mode of transportation.
After arriving in Lalibela, we started our tour immediately by visiting the legendary churches and the town's marketplace. The rock hewn churches were amazing, consisting of entire buildings skillfully dug out of the ground and beautifully crafted by hand. I have never seen anything like it and recommend anyone spending any time in Ethiopia to make an effort to visit them. In addition, the market was one of the best I've been to in country (you start to get a feel for good markets based on products for sell, level of harassment, and ease of bartering and making friends with market vendors).
The second day during our stay in Lalibela, we took mules up a mountain, Ashetin Mariam, where a cave monestary was located and where I was able to hire a couple of local kids to take me up something of a scrambling trail to the very top. The landscape up there was something of a different world when comparing to my village town in Southwest Ethipia where short and soft rolling farmlands are the panorama. The weather, too, was very different and reminded me of the high sierras in California's Yosemite Park. After making it back down near the monestary, I joined my parents and the church's congregation in a communion of local beer and dark wheat bread: Delicious.
Our guide was exceptional, taking us everywhere we seemed interested and presenting the sites and sounds of Lalibela, each one better than the last. The photo above was taken at the last stop of our tour, St. George Church, which is supposedly one of the better crafted churches and possibly the most photographed (it's the only one currently not covered by a giant structure protecting it from the elements).