We woke up, ate breakfast, checked out and then got into one of the dodgiest taxis ever! The seats were just springs with a cover over them. Sue kept saying don’t push too hard on the floorboard or we might go through! We made it back to the airport and had to go through the ‘get your engine and passports checked at the gates” check to even get onto the grounds!
The flight was only 30 minutes and we had arranged for airport pickup again. This time it was a bunch of vans that are obviously run by the same company because they picked us up on the way out as well. We were in with lots of different people all heading the same way. The town again is something like 38km from the airport so we had another great drive through the countryside.
We checked into the hotel, the 7 Olives, and arranged for a tuk-tuk driver for the day to take us to the churches. We were going to skip having a guide and just explore the churches on our own but we were followed around by Muchaw who was trying to get us to hire him. Sue bargained hard with him and managed to get him to come down from $35 to $20. You could definitely do the churches without a guide but I think that you would want to at least have a guidebook with you. Also, I think that you wouldn’t realize that all of the little “side” buildings are actually individual churches as well.
Bet Maryam had the most amazing paintings on the inside that would have been painted partially by King Lalibela. The whole site at Lalibela is said to be because the pilgrimage to the holy land was so long and dangerous, King Lalibela received a vision to recreate the holy sites in Lalibela. So each of the holy sites in the holy land has a church to represent it in Lalibela.
This is the inside of the Bet Maryam church.
The churches were all carved down into the stone of the mountains. They would start by carving down the sides until they got to the door, then they would dig up to the height of the ceiling then start gutting the inside. The system starts at the top of the mountain and has tunnels and passageways that lead down to the lower churches. There is a massive drainage system around the whole complex to keep them from filling up with water.
This is the back of the second church we went to. The three windows at the top are the father, son and holy spirit. The three at the bottom represent the three crosses with the one in the middle being Jesus as known because of the cross above it. The one on the right being the thief that repented and was sent to heaven as know because of the cross above him. The one to the left being the thief who did not hence the symbol below stating that he went to hell.
Priests of the churches. Notice that the crosses on top of their staffs are different. Each church has its own cross style.
|Monolithic Cross in middle of Drainage Ditch|
|Tomb of Adam-Main entrance to churches.|
|Traditional Tukul House|
|Door with nails representing the nails of the cross|