I can't even begin to tell you what a joy it has been to go through all the treasured photos from this trip and share this experience with you.
It has taken me to another time filled with unforgettable memories and I will be forever grateful for this wonderful experience.
When we left off, I had gone on a fun 6 mile run with Gezahegne and his talented wife Elfenesh through the Ethiopian countryside.
That night, Jerold and I went to bed pretty early and the next morning we left on yet another adventure! The coordinators of our trip had arranged for us to fly to the holy land of Lalibela to tour the incredible rock hewn churches and ring in the New Year in this amazing place!
Needless to say we were very excited!
Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia famous for monolithic rock cut churches (source). This picture is in front of the famous Church of Saint George.
Let me back up just a bit. First of all, I couldn't believe we were getting on another plane to fly out of Addis Ababa. I am all about adventure, so I couldn't wait to explore another part of this beautiful country.
I had to take a picture in front to the plaque describing King Lalibala and the history of this holy land.
King Lalibala, revered as a saint, is said to have seen Jerusalem, and then attempted to build a new Jerusalem as his capitol in response to the capture of old Jerusalem by Muslims in 1187. Each church was carved from a single piece of rock to symbolize spirituality and humility. (source)
Interesting fact: Lalibela was the capitol of Ethiopia from the late 12th into the 13th century.
January 7th is when Christmas is celebrated in Ethiopia and Lalibala is a place where many native people flock to in order to celebrate the holiday. We arrived there on New Year's Eve, yet people were already making their way to the town. It was pretty amazing as people travel on foot hundreds of miles to reach the town.
The landscape was so beautiful...
Here we are in front of one of the 11 churches...
And I got a chance to climb down and explore with a guide...
The intricate design of the churches was incredible...
Very interesting that there were still many skeletons in the crevices of the churches...
A Priest inside one of the churches....
Sweet children who make the pilgrimage with their parents to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas...
After our afternoon tour, we rested a bit and then went to a fun dinner show to celebrate New Year's Eve!
And I danced!
And then the hotel set up a bonfire and we toasted the New Year with friends we met from Italy! Everyone was so nice and the next year Jerold and I ended up going to Italy (and of course running a lot!).
We spent New Year's day in Lalibela and then got back on a plane to Addis, as we had more running to do!
Another good night's sleep and then a beautiful sunrise as we were on our way to the meeting location...
Time to run again with an Olympic gold medalist!
Running = happiness!
Post run stretching with Gezahegne! Yes, I had running gloves on - it was cold, which means perfect running weather!
This post is already a long one and there is a little bit left to tell of this amazing journey. I'll be back very soon with the final conclusion of our trip.
Let's just say the Ethiopians know how to party!!
If you could ask an Olympic gold medalist one question ---> what would it be?
Have you ever been to the Olympics as a spectator? If so, which Olympics and what events did you get to see?
Happiness Is Running Life!