Kapoors Year 6: Iceland To S. Africa & Namibia travel blog

Here's A View Of The Desolate Terrain As We Flew Towards Lalibela

Eventually We Began To See Some Signs Of Human Habitation

And High Atop A Hill, A Religious Shrine, Surrounded By Trees And...

The Airport Was Quite A Distance From The Town Of Lalibela, Located...

The First Leg Of Our Historical Circuit Trip Took Us To Lalibela,...

It Hadn't Occurred To Us That We Were Arriving On A Saturday,...

As We Drove Into The Hills From The Airport, We Passed Scores...

These People Are Clearly Very Poor Farmers, Their Clothes Are No Longer...

By Contrast, These People In The Town Are Much More Prosperous, Judging...

This Man May Be A Prominent Local, Or Else Someone Who Has...

We Drove Through Lalibela And On To Our Hotel, Looking Back We...

After Checking Into Our Hotel And Leaving Our Luggage, We Walked The...

The Women Were Busy Preparing Food For The Coming Feast, Peeling Onions...

These Men Passed Us With Freshly Butchered Meat, They May Have Been...

There Were Several Shops Along Our Route, This One Is Displaying What...

I Turned My Attention To Much More Pleasant Signs, This One Promoting...

I Was Pleased To See That The Community Was Offering Services For...

As We Headed Towards The Market Grounds, We Admired The Local Buildings...

The Entrance To The Market Was So Crowded, We Were Forced To...

We Looped Around And Entered Through The Livestock Section, Many Of The...

We Stopped For A Few Moments To Admire The Donkeys And To...

I Plan To Take Loads Of Photos For My Son In Law...

We Moved On To The Foodstuffs And Stopped To See The Local...

It's An Extremely Tiny Seed Grain, Used For Making The Famous Ethiopian...

There Were Several Different Pulses For Sale As Well As These Dried...

Several People Were Selling Salt, A Very Important Commodity In This Inland...

The People Sat Out In The Open For The Most Part, But...

Beekeeping And Honey Production Has A Very Long History In Ethiopia, It's...

The Saturday Market Has A Large Textile Section And I Couldn't Resist...

The Women Of Ethiopia Have Relatively Soft Curly Hair And Fashion The...

I Wasn't The Only One Checking Out The Fabrics, Many Women Were...

I Stopped To Admire The Embroidery Pieces, They Can Be Purchased Separately...

There Is No End To The Variety Of Borders Woven On The...

People Pointed Out The Special Red And White Cloth That Is Worn...

This Shawl Is Very Much Like The One I Purchased At The...

We Kept Spotting These Young Men With Green Shirts Covered With White...

There Were Far More Young Men From The Villages, The Market Is...

I Loved The Way This Man Chose To Carry The New Basket...

More Donkeys, This One Watched Over By This Little Boy With The...

We Spent A Couple Of Hours Exploring The Market But It Was...

There Were So Many Interesting People Outside The Market It Was Hard...

I Kept Admiring The Hairstyles Of The Women, But Most Don't Want...

I Can't Say I Blame Them, So I Would Usually Try And...

This Young Girl Was Carrying An Interesting Basket, Her Food For The...

These Small Children Were Scurrying To Keep Up With The Other Members...

The Two Young Boys Who Had Shown Us Around The Market Pointed...

The Route Was Shorter, But It Entailed A Steep Path Downwards And...

What Made It Really Interesting Though, Was The Other People Taking The...

We Were Clearly Too Slow On The Uphill Climb For These Surefooted...

It Was So Quiet Along The Route That We Could Have Been...

It Was A Tough Slog, And I Was Exhausted Walking In The...


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BACKGROUND

For some general information, here are some excerpts from the Lonely Planet – Ethiopia & Eritrea chapter on the Historical Circuit:

“No matter what you have heard about Lalibela, no matter how many pictures you have seen of its breathtaking rock-hewn, its dimly lit passageways or its hidden crypts and grottoes, nothing on earth can prepare you for the reality of seeing the new Jerusalem for yourself. It is truly a wonder of Africa.

A night vigil there, during one of the big religious festivals, when white-robed pilgrims in their hundreds crowd the courtyards of the churches and priests in royal robes wade through the crowds to worship in a church made by the hands of the angels, is to witness Christianity in its most raw and powerful form.

Legend has it that a poisoned man was taken to three different levels of heaven by a group of angels. After showing him a stunning city of rock-hewn churches, God commanded him to return to earth and build a new Jerusalem. His mission was to recreate what he had seen in heaven.

Scholars agree that the churches date to the time of the reign of King Lalibela in the 12th or 13th century. After the king’s death, the site of the rock churches, Roha, was renamed in honour of Lalibela. Local tradition explains how this massive undertaking was accomplished in a relatively short period of time. The faithful believe that when the exhausted workers retired for the night, an army of angels descended from the heavens to work under cover of darkness.

Many of the churches were constructed from the top down; by removing the surrounding rock and then hollowing out the interior rooms. The masons of Aksum to the north of Lalibela, had long shown exceptional skills working with stone, and there are clear characteristics of Aksumite style on several of the churches.”

KAPOORS ON THE ROAD

Rather than taking a taxi to the nearby airport, we chose to walk with our light backpacks. We left just as the sun was rising and the night watchman from our hotel accompanied us. It was good to stretch our legs, but even better to avoid the highway robbers the taxi drivers have become, overcharging passengers for the 3-minute ride. The young watchman seemed impressed that we were unwilling to pay the sky-high fares that had become the norm.

Just as we were about to enter the domestic airport terminal, the power went out completely and we had to wait outside until it was restored. The terminal is fairly modern and the airplanes are state of the art, but nothing works without electricity. I worried that our flight might be delayed, and that we would miss our connecting flight in Gondar, but as it turned out, our plane flew directly to Lalibela instead.

After landing we connected with a fellow from our hotel and after he rounded up some other passengers, we set off in a minivan across the arid plains and up into the neighbouring hills. Now this was the Ethiopia I remembered from my past visit. The mud huts were few and far between, the landscape seemed almost deserted. It wasn’t until we were near to the crest of the hills that we began to see dozens of people making their way into Lalibela on foot.

The driver told us that it was market day and it was clear that many of these people had risen long before dawn in order to walk into Lalibela and sell their goods at the market. I felt particularly spoiled as we whizzed past them in our vehicle, kicking up clouds of dust as we passed. After dropping off some of the other passengers at various guesthouses around the town of 14,000, the minivan drove along a road on the crest of a large out-cropping and I could see our hotel perched at the very end. It was called Mountain View Hotel, and I was easy to see what inspired the name.

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