Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ethiopia return trip #2 Part 4

Our next stop was Lalibela, a short and easy flight from Gondar. We stayed at Villa Lalibela, a small guesthouse that is an extension of a family home. The family was very welcoming; we shared coffee and a meal with them and watched Turkish soap operas together. Best of all, an English-speaking 13-year-old was visiting Grandma from Addis Ababa, and for a while the kids were convinced that we had come to Lalibela to play soccer with Nathi and that the 12th-century rock-hewn churches were secondary.

When I finally persuaded the kids to leave the guesthouse and walk around town, we got a bad first impression of the tourist facilities when two wannabe guides got into a shoving match in front of us and pushed both me and A. Back at the guesthouse A was consoled and the manager organized a soccer game with the neighborhood kids to take his mind off what happened. He was feeling better soon and a delicious meal at the Sora Lodge restaurant right on the edge of the cliff helped.

The next day we went to the churches, bringing our own guide organized by Villa Lalibela. At the main office the manager had heard what had happened, apologized, and gave A free admission. Those guides really were an aberration because everything else about the church tour was very organized and professional.

The churches were, of course, fantastic. It really boggled the mind to look at these majestic structures and think that they were hand carved out of the mountains.

Just as cool as the churches - and very fun for the kids - were the tunnels, trenches, and twisting staircases we walked through to get from one church to the next.

We visited the north group of churches before lunch and the south group after. When it started raining in the afternoon, we went back to the guesthouse to play with Nathi.

On the third day with the sun shining, we returned to Beit Giyorgis for pictures. Note that entrance tickets to the churches are good for five days.

We also went to the north side of town to have lunch at the very cool Ben Abeba snail sculpture/restaurant. We stopped at the Ethiopian Airlines office for tickets and then hung out with Nathi and at the Sora Lodge during the rainy afternoon.

Read Part 5

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