Thursday, October 16, 2014


I drove to the airport, realized I forgot my writing book, found a guy, found a phone, found a cab, returned to the hotel, got back 5 minutes before departure.  Every time I lose something while traveling I remember my mom sending me off when I was 19 through the airport on my way to Kolkata.
“Keep your shit together.  If you lose anything, I’ll kill you.”
“Ma’am, you dropped your passport.”

Lalibela is a Christian city built to be the new Jerusalem.  A man made river of Jordan runs through the city.  When the city was built, Christian persecution was widespread.  So all of the churches were carved from the solid rock floor deep underground.  When scanning the horizon, you cannot see any churches, and it isn’t until you are almost on top of them that you can see the intricate framework below.  They’re magnificent. 

All of the churches are connected by dark underground tunnels for protection.  The churches are Ethiopian Christian Orthodox.  They had large wood doors that opened into dark, stone rooms like an ant hive.  Shadows of the priests reached to the tops of the dark stone.  It was very simple and deeply humble.  A woman with thick wrinkles crouched with her head down, counting rosaries, tears streaming down her face. 

I found the stone walls very oppressive.  I felt more holy eyes up on top of the green mountains rather than head down on a carpet.  Rabindranath Tagore, the famous Indian poet said, “
LEAVE this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!
  He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathmaker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!
  Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.”
Give me a mountain and I will open my soul to the heavens and earth.  Give me a temple and I’ll take a picture and never look at it again.

We walked through the dark tunnels when a bat fell from the ceiling. 
“Jesus Christ!” I screamed and it echoed back 50 times.  The nuns looked up from their beads and scowled.  Nice Chel.

The priests and nuns slept in a little holes cut into the stone that were just big enough to lay down in.  Unfathomable to me.

I ate lamb and injera with chili for dinner and some coffee to drift me to sleep.

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