Have you ever come across a Gecko, that’s just forgotten to hold on? I think that’s what the scouts thought I was about to do, with one hand on my bottom and another grabbing my hand trying to drag me up the rock face. I stop mid climb with one foot jammed into a toe hole, the other mid step and my hands placed in the perfectly placed hand grooves, and I tell them- I’m a fricken tough mountain goat! Don’t worry about me. Tanya is the one scared of heights, go and help her.
The bridge and the path around the side of the mountain.
The walk to the entrance of the church.
This is our second attempt at reaching a rock church. In tow we had a guide from the village below, two scouts, one key boy and a priest. We just paid 100 birr ($6) each for the entrance fee of the church, another 250 birr ($15) for the guide and now we had to pay for the rest of them. This is adding up to be one expensive expedition to see just one church! I’m glad I can share the costs with Mitchell and Tanya.
When we reached the top of the cliff face, we found ourselves on a ledge with a small empty cave overlooking two valleys. I couldn’t help my feeling of disappointment. Mitchell asked is this the Church? The guide shakes his head and points to a narrow wooden board leading around the corner of the cliff face. The Priest and the Key boy go first, only to come running back yelling ‘Snake, Snake, Snake!’ Now it’s time for the scouts to do something useful for once. Standing as far back as they possibly could, stretching out with their guns they shooed the snake away with the barrel. ‘See madam, you did need us!’ Ha… yeah right… at least now you have worked for your money.
The Key boy turns the lock and the old wooden door is opened. Stepping through the threshold, I gasp. I never expected it would be like this. A room was carved out inside the mountain only held up by a few columns. Every surface was completely decorated with paintings depicting the seven apostles. I’m not one to be spiritual, but I was taken back, and sat down on the floor just to suck in my surroundings and feel the stories emerge from the walls and fill me. This place has such a sense of history, of belonging, of triumph and achievement. I was here in the middle of Ethiopia surrounded by rude and demanding people, all wanting something from me. But in this place, it was quiet, calm and overwhelming.
The priest leaning on his walking stick inside the beautiful church.
The priest reading his old holly bible.
The twelve Apostles
Emerging back into the real world, I got the feeling of dread to be leaving such a special place, knowing by the time we get to the bottom we will be having a fight with everyone about the payment, destroying the calm, quiet, surreal feeling we just received inside the church. Sure enough my fears came true and my feelings return to where they started from. As we arrived back at the motorcycles, we discover a man pretending to take care of our bikes and now demanding more money. The thing is, we could see from the top of the mountain he only turned up when he noticed us descending down the mountain. More icing on this terrible cake Ethiopia is trying hard to serve me.