Sharing Ethiopia with Mom!

Lalibela, Ethiopia

Bringing my mother back to Ethiopia with me was such an amazing experience. I loved sharing my home, family, and friends with her. I was so thrilled that I had planned to travel as I normally would have even if she hadn’t been here. Some Peace Corps Volunteers only stay in the nicest hotels, rent private cars, and don’t really let their parents get a feel for Ethiopia in that sense. I was so happy that mom was up for living how I live here. Her first night in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, I took her to the cheapest hotel that PCVs use in Addis! She was all for the experiences!

We had a quick visit with my PCV friend, Alex, and then on to Deneba. In Deneba, my site, we visited with my landlord, Zewdu and had an authentic Ethiopian meal. Mom enjoyed her first buna(coffee) ceremony and amazing Ethiopian hospitality. After a bit of site-seeing in Deneba, we were able to have some quality time in my tiny house. It was so nice to cozy up, cook dinner, make popcorn, have hot chocolate, and watch a funny movie with my mom. All the things that I actually day dream about when I am a little home sick…and I actually got to do them!

Mom did amazingly well on public transportation. From the Addis to my town, Deneba, it takes about 4 ½ -5 hours. About half of that is on a paved road on a small minibus and the other half is on an unpaved dirt rocky road on a larger bus. Mom also got a good visual of how Ethiopians fill busses. Almost comical to watch sometimes.

Lalibela was something I had been looking forward to since I moved to Ethiopia. Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia, known for monolithic rock-cut churches. Situated high in the mountainous region, Lalibela consists of 11 medieval monolithic rock hewn churches. King Lalibela set out to construct a 13th century ‘New Jerusalem.’ It is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities.

There are two main clusters of churches, with St. George being isolated from either cluster. St. George is the most recognizable of the churches and one of the only churches currently without a protective scaffolding cover. Although, the coverings will protect the churches in the long run, it does kind of ruin the view of them now. Each church, as well as St. George, is connected by a system of underground tunnels and trenches. The tunnels make visiting the churches even more of an adventure, no US safety regulations at this tourist site! We felt a bit like Indiana Jones at times, exploring for lost treasures.

When viewing these photos, try to remember that each of these churches was an experiment, a learning process. So they got better and perfected their technique with each church. I think what also impressed me was to think that they had no way to know how deep this rock went. If they worked hard to carve down and work on their church and then reached dirt at some point, their project was over. Just mind blowing. Some of these churches have ornate insides as well. A few have a second story/balcony area inside! What? Just nuts. Amazing what humans are capable.

8 thoughts on “Sharing Ethiopia with Mom!

  1. Thanks for sharing your pictures of Lalibela, Heather. We hope to visit this amazing site when we return to Ethiopia to visit Eyasu and Mesfin’s family in Deneba. An Ethiopian friend was telling us the story of Lalibela, the man who had the dream for the churches and began carving them. According to her, he did the work all by himself (a bit of religious mythology going on there?), but when he would go to sleep at night, the work continued by hand of God…. interesting to hear from her perspective the lore of her culture. Hope you had a great visit with your mom….she is an intrepid soul; guess the apple did not fall far from the tree!


  2. Great photos which brought back great memories. My name is Kiki Bayisa PCV Asella, ET 1996-1998.
    Good for your mom enduring the bumpy and dusty roads! How great to share Lalibella with her. Do you know of a PCV that is in Asella right now?
    God bless you for blessing our Ethiopian family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I don’t know of a PCV currently in Asella. Peace Corps Ethiopia is trying to work toward very small sites, smaller than 2,000 in population. I looked at the paper and saw that there was a G9 there who would have just left recently but I doubt that any of the new G’s would have been placed there. Sorry I’m no help! So great to hear from a fellow Ethiopian Volunteer! Hope you are doing well!


      1. Thank you for your response. I have been praying A lot for Ethiopia lately. The news that we have gotten..mostly Facebook posts and videos has been heartbreaking. Any talk of you guys needing to evacuate? Be safe. I guess that would mean I belonged to G2. Bless you guys

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Most recently, a lot of the groups who were consolidated have been sent back to site so I suppose it is calming down? Not entirely sure how true that is but PC feels comfortable sending them back. However, many PCVs have been relocated permanently or are still consolidated. I’m sure there are rumors of evacuation but I think it would take a lot country wide. I really hope not! I am finally having so much success with all my projects, it would break my heart!


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