Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Raffe's house

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 PM
The morning was cool and crisp. We had a choice of excursion by mule up the mountain to visit the Ashetan Maryam monastery, the oldest church built inside a cave, or take the 4x4. i opted for the drive since I didnt care for mule rides as riding on animals were uncomfortable and the going was most likely treacherous. After the ride we had to climb to about 3000m. from the church we could see the lalibela mountains from up close, the town of lalibela below, and the river jordan cutting the region in half. The church itself wasnt too impressive but the priest showed us the lalibela crosses and holy books. After church visiting, we had coffee and bread offered by a local family. They piled dunks high next to their tukuls, the circular stone huts that the locals lived in.

back at the hotel, I had my second injara lunch. unlike other local food, I was not beginning to love it.

This afternoon we visited the second group of the rock hewn churches, east of the river. Started with a very impressive Bet Gabriel-Rufael, cut entirely on the face of the pink volcanic mother rock, and in a very deep enormous ditch, this was a double church where one was dedicated to Raffe. i liked this one the best (and not only because it was Raffe's) for it was separated from the entrance by the deep trench and had sort of an open area where one could admire the enormous wall of the trench and really get to appreciate how deep and long the trench had to be cut in order to build this church. Really very awe inspiring!

Next we went down the dark tunnels that connected the churches, and emerged to be greeted by fantastic orange rock arch formations and the Bet Merkorios. Down the tunnel we went again and re-emerged to the awestruck sight of the 2 stories free standing Bet Amanuel. Priests were chanting scriptures in front of the church and faithfuls were praying, all the while tourists were wandering around and taking photos unimpeded and without the slightest respect. Some even pointed their cameras right at the chanting priest's face! the final church in this group was the only one that had the roof attached to the mother rock. The Bet Abba Libanos was a small church, cut entirely free all around except at the top. it looked a bit strange but it was a novelty.

I've really enjoyed visiting these rock cut churches, and admiring the art, the architecture and the paintings inside them. Just hated having to take off my shoes every time we entered one, and putting them back on when we exited the churches. We even had to pay a guy who did nothing but looked after our shoes outside of every church we've visited.

Tonight's dinner was at a peculiar restaurant named Bet Abeba, owned by a Scotish woman. It was built in a very strange design, not resembling anything at all. the upper floors were several openair terraces and the sunset this evening was most spectacular. Although the food wasnt very good and eating in openair was a bit cold after the sun had set. The moon was full and again, like so many times before in my travels, once the sun set on one side, the moon rose on the other. 2 brits sat on the table next to ours, and one sounded very much like Andy Murray. We were discussing the lack of public transport in lalibela and one of the brits said one could walk back to the hotel, as it couldnt be that far since it's a small town, and sure enough while we're driving back to the Roha, we saw them walking!

We spent the evening chitchatting in the hotel garden, sitting on wooden chairs around a stone table. it was cool but the mosquitoes were incessant. I got a few bites even with my eucalyptus lemon juice on.

I'll have fond memories of Lalibela.

Lalibela photos:

lalibela

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