On Sunday, Gareth and I joined some other VSO volunteers and friends from Mekele on a trip to our first rock-hewn church – Abba Yohanni. It is about 15km away from the college, just off the road north to Adwa. It was a bumpy ride there but we soon spotted the church, carved into the cliff face.
When we arrived, the priest of the church offered us tella, a locally brewed beer made from maize or millet. I declined but Gareth had a sip although it was not very pleasant! Here’s Martin drinking his tella!
We clambered up some rocks with an entourage of local people, curious to see us. There then followed some negotiation on how much we had to pay to see the church and with the price settled at 60 birr each, the boys climbed further up the cliff and entered the church. As a female, I was forbidden to go so spent my time lazing around with some of the villagers, who tried to teach me more Tigrigna language!
The walk up to the church involved some tunnels and a ledge, overlooking the stunning scenery. The priest seemed quite a showman and enjoyed showing the visitors around!
After about an hour or so we went back to the car. By this stage the group of locals accompanying us had grown to about thirty! We soon discovered that one of the kids had let a little bit of air out of the front left tyre but not enough to stop us heading back. However on the way back down, we got a flat tyre on the front right wheel, so it was changed by the boys while I looked on!
A little further on we also saw some lovely children in a village who yelled out to us “You are welcome!” as we drove past!
Finally, as we neared Abi Adi we spotted a very large black bird walking around the fields. Our Ethiopian friend said they are very rare, and we don’t know the name, but it must have been 4 ft high!! Quite a memorable day out!