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.