After over 10 hours solid sleep I went to meet my guide. I know some of you reading this must think that it’s pretty hypocritical to have the name say_no_to_tour_guides and then get a tour guide. However I felt it was about time to try one out again and some travellers (Cameron (USA), Naomi (UK) and Marly (India)) I met on the bus yesterday were going with this guy too.
I was meeting them at 0800 at the ticket office but I got there early so went and explored one of the churches nearby. At 0830, just as I was going to gives up on them, one of Birhan’s (our guide) friends turned up and said that they were just coming. At 0845 they finally turned up.
The first place we went to was the Church of Saint George, the church I explored yesterday, it was still just as interesting the second time. Round the corner from this was a baptismal site where Naomi got blessed as she wasn’t feeling too well. We spent the rest of the morning exploring the Eastern Churches, most of which are connected by passages and tunnels which were cool to explore. There were definitely times when I wished we were going faster and probably equal amounts of time when I thought we were moving along too fast and I hadn’t had a chance to explore all the caves and tunnels properly however it was a god morning.
For lunch we went to a local restaurant and had ‘fasting food’ which is basically their version of a pancake (but more sour) with cabbage, beetroot, two types of lentils and some source, super tasty and filling. Also good value for money.
The afternoon was very similar to the morning, we explored 5 more churches (there are 11 in total at Lalibela), navigated our way through passages and walked a few kilometres. It was equally impressive and just as breathtaking to see the effort which was required to carve these churches out of the bed rock, using only hand tools. The detail inside is just as striking.
For dinner I met back up with Cameron, Many and Naomi at their hotel for a drink before going back to Ben Arbar (the oddly shaped restaurant). Yet again a decent dinner and I was good to spend it with fellow travellers, we went back to their hotel and chatted for a while before I traipsed back across town (20 minute walk) in the dark to my hotel.
A thoroughly enjoyable day however I’m still not sold on tour guides. Birhan was very knowledgeable but I don’t think he added to the experience for me. Maybe I’m a little selfish and like doing things my own way however I wanted to explore more and the historic detail I had largely researched beforehand. It was a good day but but exploring it alone/without a guide would’ve been more fulfilling for me.
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