Gob smacked in Lalibella

Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
Trip End Jun 12, 2006

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Managed to get my flight changed for a day earlier on the Fokker 50 plane ride to Lalibella. Moved away from the straight espresso this morning and ventured towards the Machiatos (a kind of latte). Every now and again I would forget to ask for no sugar and get half a cup of sugar with my coffee - I guess the Ethiopians like it sweet! Seems like Lalibella has a bit of a cartel working from the airport and only one minibus turned up charging a flat 30birr per person - no choice really, but no worries either, pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things.

Stayed at the Asheton Hotel and did an afternoon hike with Jean-Pierre. Absolutely fantastic views. Lots of flowers in the town and countryside as well, but not to hot on my flower species so no idea what they all are. The hotel tried to charge me twice the price it should do for water so I sent a local lad, our guide as it turned out, to get some at the real price from a local shop - they are definately used to rich tourists here as the number one tourist destination in Ethiopia. The hike went to the Asheton Monastery that was carves out of a cliff face. Above the monastery we got some stupendous views of the surrounding countryside.

No power in town that night but still very bright with an almost full moon up high in the sky. Had a great meal of pizza! No cheese but a fantastic tomato sauce and topping. Toby who was with us worked for the biggest pizza manufacturer in Europe - he gave us the lowdown on the good and bad points about the pizza we had just had as well as plenty of other trivia, but I think even he was suitable impressed with our offering! Matt and Athene, plus an Australian guy I had briefly met in the Simien Mountains were also there.

Day 2 and the coffee not too tasty this morning, it tasted more like Turkish coffee! I left 3/4 of it but when the lady saw I hadn't drunk it she made me a whole new cup! I then felt rather guilt and had to finish the whole lot! I guess it's the Italian influence, but most places, however poor have a shiny new expresso machine. We still had a power cut so I guess they were not working and all the coffee was of the inferior stovetop variety.

Bin, our guide took us around the churches and all I can say is I was gob smacked, they were absolutely amazing. All sculpted out of solid rock, mostly below ground and freestanding, experts though it must have taken 40,000 people to build them! Many had stunning artifact such as one with a 7kg gold cross. All of them were looked after by colourfully robed priests, that were happy so show off their treasures for a few birr.

It was funny to see some of the priests wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes from the flashes on the tourists cameras.

Around the churches there were caves as small as a few feet tall where hermits lived and prayed - truly amazing. We went to one of the posh hotels for lunch, I had hamburger and beer, the burger with all it's spices tasted like a sausage pattie you'd likely get in the USA, minus the grease. A respectable burger indeed. Back to the rock carved passageways, tunnels and churches in the afternoon.

I spend the late afternoon sat on a hill watching storms cross the valley and also the sunset. Very pleasant.
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Where I stayed
Asheton Hotel
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