Another common plot is for local children to invite you to their home to have their mother perform a coffee ceremony. Sounds good, but they expect you to pay up to 1000 Birr afterwards.
I didn't fall for it but others did
Many children here will tell you stories of their hardship.
The most common story was about their family living many miles away.
They all seemed to carry their school report stating that they were top of the class and destined for great things. If only they can afford to buy books, maybe you can help?
While it is tempting to help, give a donation to a registered school or charity instead.
All over Ethiopia, you will, by now be used to kids coming up to you. Some to ask for money, but many just to chat.
Here we found many wanted nothing more than to give us their e-mail address (or get ours).
The main annoyance was a really obese kid who walked alongside us for 20 mins shouting 'I am hungry'.
This went on until a local man come over and hit him and told him to leave.
Apparently, he is not a kid, but a 25 year old with mental problems. The villagers make fun of him. Sad story, but he is a pain and refuses to take no for an answer.
Wear some good boots, watch your step and be prepared to wash those same good boots when you get back to the hotel. Lalibela is full of farmyard animals leaving this sort of stuff everywhere. You cannot escape.
Lalibela is a mountainous terrain and the roads are twisting and exceptionally challenging. That’s even for experienced local drivers. These pictures are of a vehicle driven by a local tour guide during the dry season on a paved road. It ended up in the middle of a graveyard quite a few meters below the road it was originally on. Take it very easy if you drive yourself. Make sure any driver you hire understands your ideas of safety and speed not his and the withdrawal of money if they go too fast. Then remember all these potential bad things when you are walking in the road.
Be vigilant and enjoy your visit here.
Every now and then the locals find out why you should keep your cooking fires away from you house that is made out of mud/straw with a thatched roof. I'm sure this was the excitment of the day or even week here. The local kids started making sounds like a fire engine siren and when we got here the locals were throwing water and pulling the roof of this house apart to get the fire out.
Not really a danger but hey the roofs of the churches leak when it rains and this is damaging the insides so UNSECO is building metal roofs over most of the churches which makes photographing some of them difficult at best....If Lalibela is the main motivation for your trip to Ethiopia..hold off a bit. Once the work is done, right now most of the work is being done on the Northern churches...Sorry no slight to my European friends but this is where I wish some good old American building was going on...watching the construction of the roofs here has to be up there with watching paint dry...get it done guys........yes I know there are probably other reasons for the slow pace of work here and has nothing to do with UNESCO.
Watch out for the LAL HOTEL staff at the airport! They hang out and tell people they provide transport for other hotels. It is not true. I arrived at the Lalibela Airport and there were desks for every single hotel in the baggage claim hall. I was staying at the Seven Olives Hotel ad there was only one person in the baggage hall. He told me that he was the transport for the Seven Olives, which provides free transfers to the airport. Great! Off we went down the road and I was dropped off at the Seven Olives. Then asked for 10 Birr more than it would have been for a taxi. An argument ensued in the lobby of the Seven Olives and I had to pay. This is what the LAL HOTEL does. They lie in wait at the airport and scam money from other Hotel guests.
The Seven Olives told me that if I had just asked the airport staff to telephone them they would have picked me up – for free!
Many hotels will collect you for free. Just email or telephone them ahead of time.
Apart from the guys offering you guiding services, you will find many bows asking you for money. Most of them try to touch your "sensible" side. One of the most common stories is this:
A boy comes to you and says: "My family is from the countryside and I came here to study at the school. I need to buy an english dictionary for school but can't afford it. Could you give me money for it or buy it for me?" Your first reaction if you wanna help is: I won't give you money, I will buy you the book, that way I'm sure you won't use the money for other purposes. So, he takes you to the shop. But not a normal shop for books, pencils...they take you to a souvenir shop, where the only book available is the english-ahmaric dictionary for tourists that costs 12 USD (normal text books for schools may cost 0,5-1 USD in Ethiopia). When you say is too expensive they start saying: "No, I will talk to the shop owner and get a discount...".
The way I see it, they would return the book to the shop owner (who may get a little tip) just after you turn around the corner and get the money fot its real purpose (whatever it is).
But anyway, giving or not is up to you.
If you want to visit the churches during special religious periods (fasting, timkat, epiphany...) ask first the schedules of the masses, as when the mass start is rather unpolite to go in and take photos and so.
Nevertheless, I did. I wanted to assist a mass and I went into Bet Maryam church, silently and by the back part. Sat down at the rocks by a corner and watched in silence. Of course you won't understand a word, as they are in ahmaric, but what I wanted was to make a watercolor of it, so I took about 1 hour sitting there and it was a pleasant time. After the hour the mass went on (forever it seemed to me) so I left.
When I was there, masses ran from 7 to 9 and 12 to 15h approx (western time).
The carpets in the churches are meant to be flea ridden.
You have to take off shoes.
We had no flea problems, but to be sure, bring flea powder, or wear old socks then bin them afterwards.
Be prepared to be bothered by millions of nasty and annoying flies. The locals take a small branch of a pepper tree to get rid of them. It works not really well but it helps a little bit!