Today is the day our group left what has felt like our first home here in Ethiopia to travel from the town of Dessie, to the town of Lalibela. Our group had one final breakfast to fill up on before we began our 290km drive to the north. According to Google maps the drive should take around 4 hours and 23 minutes to complete from start to finish. However, we have all become quite accustomed to time never quite being what we have anticipated. Since our time here in Ethiopia has begun, we have learned to really adopt the mantra of “Chegre Yelmo” which is the Amharic way of saying “No Worries”, and man do the Ethiopians truly live this lifestyle. Never being able to drive higher that about 60km an hour due to the many curves and constant dodging of people and animals that line the streets, the drive took about 8 hours from start to finish.
Once the bags were packed and the cars were loaded with tired students from the previous night we set out on the long drive. Thankfully our drivers had the whole route planned and knew exactly where we were going to be making a stop for lunch. They had informed us that at the half way point we would be able to find the best place to stop for food during the drive, and so with that lingering in the back of our minds we settled in, ready to take on the next four hours of cramped quarters. Thankfully we had the pleasure of having new music freshly added to our flash drives, and the next thing we knew we had arrived at our lunch destination.
After stopping for a quick bite to eat, mostly consisting of spaghetti bolognese, shiro with injera, and soup for Brianna, our bellies were full and we decided to give some time for digestion to occur before climbing back in the cars to continue our journey. We could only think of one way to pass the time and that was to do some shopping at these little street vendors who were selling traditional clothing, and footstools covered in cow hides. Many purchases were made and then it was back on the road as we still had another four hours of driving ahead of us.
Thankfully the second half of the drive went just as fast as the first half did. As we continued our drive up into the highlands we got to see the gradual transition from the lush green landscape, full of trees, and fields of sugar cane that were growing alongside our path. To the highlands where we saw only hills of grassland, and the occasional tree. It is also interesting the gradual cooling in temperature that we felt along our drive. When we were still in the lower altitude we were all complaining about how incredibly hot and humid it was, but about thirty minutes later and a few thousand feet higher in elevation and we were all ready to put on our jackets and enjoy the brisk cool air that easily as refreshing as having the air conditioning turned on in our cars.
Finally though, we had arrived in Lalibela and our beautiful hotel was insight. Excited to finally be in this historic city and all desperate to stretch our legs we climbed out of the car, and entered our new home for the next two nights, excited for our adventure to continue in the morning when we would have the chance to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.