Today we woke up early – about 1AM as the Timket celebration for Saint George continued all through the night. I tried to sleep, but basically the celebration was so full of drums and dancing and people talking on loud speakers till about 8AM that I hardly slept. No matter – the day was full of Lalibela!!
After a quick bite to eat, we met our Spaniard friend Jesus and Moshei, our Israeli friend around 8AM and with our excellent guide Asafowe, tackled the rock-hewn churches. I have too many pictures to share here and the bandwidth I have to work with is so limited that I can’t possible upload too many pictures. Here are a select few I can share with you.
The back wall window of Bet Medhane Alem. The design at the top represents the parting of the Red Sea and the Israelite's fleeing Egypt. The bottom design represents God’s people wandering in the desert to the promised land.
At the entrance area of Bet Medhane Alem.
The back wall of Bet Maryam. The three windows at the top represent the Trinity. The left the Father, the center the Son, and the right the Holy Spirit. From the center top window, the next window down represents the part of the Trinity come to earth as Jesus . The bottom row represents Christ’s salvation represented on the cross with the window on the left bottom the thief who did not repent, notice the lowest left window pointing to Hell. And to the right bottom window the thief who did repent on the Cross and accept the grace that Jesus gives. Both Jesus and the thief on the right have small windows above them indicating ascendance into Heaven.
Inside the Bet Maryam church. Looking at the ceiling to the left of the Holy of Holies, which is in each of the 12 churches.
Window to the personal worship chapel of Priest King Lalibela.
Rock carving and painted of an Apostle in Bet Gogota.
One exit out of the Northwestern cluster. This also has interesting symbology. The cross in the center represents Jesus Christ and to the left and right the two thieves on their crosses. The lower left hole is a representation of the Tomb of Adam.
One of the original wooden doors in the Southeast cluster at Bet Gabriel-Rafael.
Bet Emanuel in the southeast cluster.
Bet Giorgis – Saint George church. This is the iconic image of Ethiopia. Completely carved out of the basalt rock in the Lalibela region.
Bet Giorgis. Noah’s ark was the inspiration for the church design. The bottom level with the doors represents the level of the ark with the heaviest animals, like elephants, giraffes, and lions. The second level up represents the level where Noah and his family lived. The third represents the level with light animals like birds and lizards. When it rains, the water hits the cross on top and flows out of the spots at the centers of the cross.
The Timket festival where the Ark of the Covenant for the church of Saint George is returning after the Timket celebration of one week ago. Dancing, singing, and celebration. It was amazing to witness!
After our time at Lalibela, we said good –bye to Jesus and headed to a restaurant at the far east end of the town. The restaurant is called Ben Abeba. Check it out at http://www.benabeba.com. The inspiration for this amazing 360 degree restaurant that overlooks the mountains and valleys comes from a women who moved here from Scotland, named Susan. She joined forces with an Ethiopian to open the restaurant and has been training her staff to get better and better at preparing meals. They feature a new menu every day and have a 4 menu rotation during the week. She is continuing her bent on development as she has planted 30,000 trees in the area!! She is harvest local ingredients to supply her menu and supports her workers with housing and accommodations like a washer and dryer. We met with her and she was kind enough to share her vision to us. Can I just say, that was SWEET! Here are some pics:
JB and Emma talking with the owner Susan.
We walked back to the hotel and on the way I picked up a few souvenirs for the family – but it’s a secret. J. I plan on simply working the rest of the day on GIS and perhaps will go get a coffee and maybe another Ethiopian glass of wine here at the hotel. I really miss my beautiful wife and three children so very much! As I watched the sunset, I thought of how beautiful they are and how deeply I love them. I miss you all so much!