. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: July 10, 1999

Saturday, July 10, 1999
Bahar Dar to Lalibela, Ethiopia
Ethiopia's FlagGojam's FlagWolo's Flag

Lalibela, Ethiopia:
Latitude: 12° 2' 5" North
Longitude: 39° 2' 48" East
Altitude: 8176 feet
From Seattle: 9994 miles
Lodging: Hotel - Seven Olives

Today's Travel:
Country: Ethiopia
Regions: Gojam, Wolo
Route: Ethiopian Airlines Flight 102: Bahar Dar - Gondar - Lalibela
Path:Bahar Dar - Lalibela, Ethiopia
Linear:117 miles
Weather: Partial Sun / Rain / Partial Sun

Available Photos:

Landscape Outside Bahar Dar, Ethiopia

Market and mountains Lalibela, Ethiopia

Mountains Lalibela, Ethiopia

People walking home from market Lalibela, Ethiopia

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

Click on map to Zoom in...
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 821
Linear Dist: 150211
Countries Visited: 60
Regions Visited: 237
More stats...
Hotels: 261
Friends / Family: 163
Camping: 118
Hostels: 217
Transit: 55
Other Lodging: 6
Beers: 3097

Journal Entry:
Weird time morning. I woke up and looked at the alarm clock - it had stopped! Had a sudden panic about missing my plane a dug through my bag for my camera to check the time - no problem it's 6:30 I can sleep another 45 minutes. Changed the battery, set the clock, and went back to sleep. Got out of bed at the right time, finished packing, went and got my laundry (which was supposed to have been delivered last night) - had to insist I needed it right now. Then was told the shuttle I had arranged to meet was broken down. Called a taxi and still got to the airport at 8:15 - no problem the flight doesn't leave until 9:20 or does it? Everyone is in a panic about me and I get rushed though and run out on the runway where the plane has already taxied to the runway. Both the engines (propellers) are running and I have to duck around (a bit scary) and they open the door and I get on. Less than ten minutes after me getting out of the taxi we're in the air! Now I'm confused, I check my tickets and the confirmation slip from Wednesday - both say the flight leaves at 9:20. Oh, oh, must have set the clock wrong then, but no when I ask someone else the time it's right. They left an hour early!

Not much of a surprise, but Dawn is not on the plane (it's come from Addis). Hopefully she missed her flight and she's not still sick. I asked after arriving in Lalibela and another passenger told me that the flight left Addis at least thirty minutes early. In Lalibela I checked into the hotel where we were going to meet if anything went wrong - it's government run and way over price, but I was able to negotiate a bit of a discount. I tried to call Dawn but her landlord told me that she was gone until tomorrow night - I think, they don't speak much English.

I would have thought it impossible, but walking around Lalibela is even more frustrating than Bahar Dar! The children are way to tenacious, the young men are worse, and the beggars prolific. The would be guides don't listen to "No" they just follow you around and start guiding. I had to stop and sit down a couple times and refuse to move until my guide left (much to the amusement of local children). Several other times I picked up rocks and threatened, and once I lost it and cussed out a guy - not relaxing. Finally made it down to the big Saturday market. Once there it wasn't too bad - this is a once weekly working market and people don't have time for tourists.

At one point I'm looking at some glass and silver beads an old woman is selling and when I go to ask the price instantly one of the boys I chased off earlier is there and it's his mother - right. He translates and the price is at least three times what she is really asking, but when I try to "talk" to her (offer her cash what I'm willing to pay) he grabs the beads and jabbers at her and yells at me. I walk away and she doesn't make a sale.

Lalibela is in a spectacular setting - the mountains raise up in every direction and fade into the distance in layers. It's really too bad that the hassles ruin what should be relaxing. I talk to one of the more polite guides and he invites me to his house to look at the crosses his mother buys in the country and sells cheap. At the house I'm offered Tella and coffee and some boys are sent to fetch the crosses. The boys turn out to be two of the worst offenders in harassing me earlier. The crosses are nothing spectacular and we can't come to an agreement on the price so I head back to the hotel.

I stop in a general store and while looking at some of the crosses one of the boys brings back the crosses - so much for them being mom's. I find the stores hardly willing to bargain - it's amazing to me that you can buy Ethiopian crosses and paraphernalia cheaper in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and probably the U.S. than you can in Ethiopia! I ask about a few items and end up buying some indigo blue glass beads, two small crosses and one large cross for 150 birr ($19), starting "discounted" price was 400! On reflection I'm really not that happy with the price I paid - I think I could have gotten it cheaper in any of the neighboring countries and maybe even at home.

I go for a walk towards some of the mountains. I stop on the edge of town and just stare and the view - it's truly awesome. On the way back I stop in one last small store and ask about some of the wooden icons they have - I'd seen some that I really liked in Harare (and should have bought given the prices here). In the 100 yard walk back to the hotel a man stops me and says he's heard that I'm interested in icons and he has one, so I agree to look at it. He takes me and opens his shop. He's got the best selection I've seen yet and his starting price on an icon that I sort of like is only 100 birr - about a fourth of what the other places have been asking. We negotiate, I pretend to leave a few times and I buy it for 25 (~$3). I start looking around and talking to Eshetu and by the time I leave I've bought 20 different silver Ethiopian Orthodox crosses (8 birr / $1 each) and two big crosses (65 birr / $8) - way more than I'd meant to buy. I do feel like I got a good deal and I think with the scarcity of tourists he was glad to make the sale.

The big problem now is that I have less than $15 worth of birr left - and there is no bank in town. Luckily my hotel is willing to cash a travelers check (the advantages of paying to much for a room) - so I'll be able to go see the churches after all. I spend some time working on my journal (I a couple days behind) and watching the spectacular thunder storm that rolls in suddenly and then half hour later disappears as quickly. I tried to call Dawn in Addis again, but couldn't make any headway with her landlord - who eventually hung up on me.

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