Lalibela was THE BEST of Ethiopia!
More touristic than any other spot we visited in this country, Lalibela is a Christian pilgrimage center best known for its 11 rock-hewn churches that are UNESCO World Heritage site. They call it “the Petra of Africa”.
The landscape in Lalibela is amazing: you are isolated (about 1 hr flight from Gondar, but almost 2 days trip if you decide to travel by bus from Addis Ababa), surrounded by magnificent mountains. In this town without even an ATM, you feel like you’ve traveled back in time.
Our arrival to Lalibela was rocky though… upon arrival to the airport, we checked with the hotel reps for a good hotel with internet (most basic requirement for us, apart from a decent bathroom). We finally agreed to go to Tukul Village which is a hotel with individual houses, built with durable materials but similar to the traditional tukul houses, round huts.
When we got to the hotel they didn’t have internet as promised, and Ashray flipped out. People will tell you anything you want to hear to get your business! We roamed around town and checked out a few other places but, not only they didn’t have internet connection, they were also surprisingly expensive! That is the downside of being in a touristic, also beautiful place. Back we went to Tukul Village where they agreed to give us the USB internet dongle they use at reception. So no emails for the hotel during the 2 days we stayed, I suppose!
Want to feel like Indiana Jones for a day?
Come to Lalibela!
We roamed around the 11 churches spread across 3 different sites in the village, with an adventure spirit!
The highlight was the visit to a 2 square meter house inside the rocks, home to an old monk. He lives in this cubicle and all he had was a plastic bottle with water, a thin mattress with torn blankets (where he probably needs to sleep in super squeezed fetal position), some saints’ paintings, a mobile phone (that he uses as torch to point at the saints while he tries to explain what they represent), and a lamb’s fur in the floor. I had the privilege of sitting on top of this filthy fur, so no wonder my fleas kept on multiplying…
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any video in there once it was totally dark and, to be honest, I was taken away by the moment. It’s important not to obsess over taking videos of everything and, that way, not absorbing everything the moment has to offer.
But, I must say, long live my new Sony camera and the super amazing GoPro, because thanks to it I managed to shoot stuff in places I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise or would have to pay for that.
Kids in Lalibela were lovely!
They are used to having tourists around and they try to make something out of it, but not necessarily something material. You have tons of kids that come and invite you for coffee at their houses – we didn’t go but I guess they appreciate if you give them some money afterwards. But this is so much better than plain begging!
Many other kids just want to get to know someone from a different place or practice their English (which they learn in the local school). Amongst the great characters we met was a kid who wanted to be like Neil Amstrong “an astrologist” and travel to space. He was hoping he can study to be an astronaut in Addis Ababa itself, “there isn’t a school for that there yet, but maybe by the time I grow up there will be!”
There was also an English teacher (with a bit of a broken English) that recently had a baby and explained how important it is to get a beautiful husband/wife and, therefore, beautiful babies, otherwise people in the village WILL talk! Very deep theory, yes indeed!
And sometimes, you meet others that try to buy you into something not so nice.
Watch this video and you’ll see:
Lalibela was also synonym of love for Bollywood!
Who would have known?
Ashray was adored by the kids that found him similar to Shahrukh Khan. Ha! These kids knew almost as many actors and movies as any Indian person would!
And, of course, they fantasize with visiting India one day and idolize the actors and actresses… so much that, one of the kids said I was too lucky for being with Ashray because he is very beautiful, more than me!