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Skiing in retirement
12th Nov 2014 - 15th Nov 2014 - Skiing in Africa 2014
From Highlands to Addis, via Lalibela

Having completed our trek it was time to return by bus to our hotel in Gonder before taking a 25 minute flight the following morning to Lalibela.  

At 2,600m asl Lalibela was the capital of Ethiopia from the 11th century.  It was the Emperor Lalibela who decided to make this place the capital and to create there a complex of churches that would mirror the Holy city of Jerusalem and celebrate in synbolic refferences, the life of Jesus.  Not just any old churches. No - these would be hewn ffrom the solid rock.

Two half-days of sightseeing sufficed to give us a sound idea of what these rock-hewwn churches are all about.  Some writers have called them the 8th Wonder of the World - not sure we would go that far, but the whole effect was impressive enough.

In betweeen churching we found time for dining in restaurants with views - including the rather unusual Benababa restuarant - see video & photos for more details, drinking beer and watching birds (including Lamergeyer) from the hotel grounds.  The Hotel also provided us with bed bugs.

Final day of the whole trip was a morning flight to Addis followed by a few hours essentially killing time before being ferried to our final activity - a cultural evening of music, dance and food.  Not just for us tourists, as a number of Ethiopian families and couples also enjoyed the evening.

And guess which member of the audience accepted the invitation to go on stage and join in a frenzied Ethiopian dance ......Well, it wasn't Steve, so it must have been.....Yep, Debs.



Next: Planning the next one
Previous: Trekking in the Simien Highlands


Diary Photos
12th Nov 2014  Kit bags
Most people used the KE Adventures free ones

12th Nov 2014  Pilgrims at Lalibela
Very respectful tourists

12th Nov 2014  Lalibela rock-hewn church: 11th century
Two main "complexes" of churches, totalling 11 separate buildings, some linked by tunnels. Said to have been completed in 23 years - some with the help of the angels, some with the help of 40, 000 slaves. Difficult to know which is the more likely. Suffice to say they form an impressive collection of rock-hewn monolithic, semi-monolithic and cave buildings all excavated from the living rock of the hillside. The idea behind all this industry was to conceal the buildings form the attention of "enemies" - presumably Musalmans intent on desecration. The ploy worked as the churches (and there are 300 more outside the town) are still in daily use, and many contain original paintings, frescoes and murals from the 15th- 18th centuries. It was extraordinary to see these fragile treasures displayed without protection from the elements and accessible to all to touch

12th Nov 2014  Lalibela monk
Each church is attended by (at least) one monk. The, are encouraged to marry and raise a family and hold office for life. Daily worship lasts many hours involving chanting, hymns and prayers. The longest services apparently go on for 9 hours during which neither priest nor congregation sit.

12th Nov 2014  Lalibela -St George's
The churches were excavated from the top down. This is probably the most accomplished example of the type: the walls are not straight, but splay outwards (from the top) to provide strength sufficient to support the upper stories and roof.

12th Nov 2014  Lalibela, St George's
See from the ground level

13th Nov 2014  Coffee ceremony
In Lalibela we were treated to another coffee

13th Nov 2014  Coffee ceremony celebrants
From l to r: Annemicke (Holland); Debs (Saudi Arabia): Claire (Ulster); Chris (Manchester).

13th Nov 2014  Lalibela tuktuk
The ubiquitous local transport vehicle of choice. Lalibela was full of school students, working shifts. They would approach us on the road to engage in conversation, but would invariably ask for money for books or an email address. Younger kids implored us for pens. At secondary stage they are taught in English in classes of between 40 and 60.

13th Nov 2014  Benababa Restaurant, Lalibela
A most unusual setting in which to enjoy Shepherds Pie
Diary Movies

In Lalibela

Lalibella - last sunset

Benababa Restaurant, Lalibella

Last night cultural extravaganza

Philemon in motion


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