The small airport is in a vast, arid and open high desert valley, with towering mountains surrounding it on all sides. An empty, yet beautiful land in stark contrast to the lushness found in Addis. We board the bus, and are informed that the ride to town will be about 30-45 minutes.
A few minutes later, we are rumbling along the dirt road, getting first glimpses of village life here.
The style of village housing we see is unique, not seen by our eyes before. We find out that this style of house is called a Tukul, common in Ethiopia. I start to get excited, and tell Master P that the place we are staying in Lalibella is called Tukul Village.
“You think we might be staying in one of those?” she inquires excitedly.
I shrug my shoulders, not knowing what to expect. The bus winds slowly up the mountain, higher and higher. You can palpably feel the change in temperatures.
Where exactly are we going? I nervously wonder to myself….
We turn a corner and see the first glimpses of the town and people, mixed into the canyons and mountain sides of this land. The streets are cobblestones, making a bumpy entrance. When the bus finally reaches our destination, our guide lets us out and points his finger to the sky…
“Lalibella” he calmly stated.
The feeling of a great spirit immediately takes hold, as I feel my mind tingling and body lifted by a greater power. I’m shown to my Tukul, and walk out on the deck to feel the cool breeze. I look out across the ravine to see a group covered in white robes, chanting and praying next to an object I can’t quite make out. It is my first realization of the true specialness of this place.
We settle in, get a meal in our bellies, and set up a guide to show us around for the next few days. Days that end up changing and molding my world view once again.