|Reunion at the churches!|
After spending some days processing my interviews, I left Addis again, this time to the north. I was very excited as my good friend Rob and Syndey had come to Ethiopia on honeymoon. They invited me to join them for a day or two, a meal, a conversation, and I agreed to meet them in Lalibela. It makes me extremely happy to see friends, especially in different towns/cities/countries, and definitely after so much time passes, as it tends to do as we get older. I had not seen this pair in two years. I lived with them years ago while I was finishing up my Master's degree in Connecticut.
I met a man named Richard on the shuttle bus to the plane in Addis. He had just come in from 2 month work in Kenya. He works for the BBC. Immediately I could tell he was a lovely man and our conversation continued as our shuttle bus pulled up to the plane, did not let us out, returned to the terminal, shuffled us up one flight of stairs to our original gate, then down the hall and back down the stairs of another gate, back onto the shuttle bus, and the second time they let us off at the plane. Why? We never found out.
|View from Mountain View Hotel of Valley|
|View of Ben Ababa from Mountain View Hotel|
After lunch we began touring the churches. The first time I saw images of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela was in a restaurant of the same name in New Haven, Connecticut. I was a teenager. The images captured my imagination and I wished someday to visit this distant land of Ethiopia, these astounding churches in the rocks. I had dreamed of arriving at the churches, walking along a plateau to suddenly be confronted with a deep opening in the ground, a church in the center. I was not prepared for the beauty and mystery we found there. The experience moved me and I felt something shift in my heart. The first day we visited one half of the churches, learned about the history, the architecture, the mystery. One King, King Lalibela, was responsible for most of the church construction. It is said that due to the speed of construction that angels took the nightshift. UNESCO has put absolutely ugly structures over the churches to protect them. They have been damaged by the elements, by earthquakes, but still they stand. Only one having completely collapsed. At one point we journeyed under the ground, through a tunnel that connected the churches. It is said that this experience is like going through the dark night of hell, to emerge in the light and sacredness of heaven (on the other side). It was so dark we had to hold hands - nothing could be seen.
|You must remove your shoes to enter the churches|
|It is said anyone that can pick up this rounded piece of wood is without sin.|