<< Tigray - The Road From Mekele

11/09/19 - Tigray - Iglesia Johannes makata or perhaps Maryam Bahera

One of the problems with having a tour guide is that one doesn't have to focus on the mechanics of one's journey. There's no checking maps, arguing with the GPS, figuring out routes and times and working out logistics. Those are the guide's job. This means it is easy to not be 100% sure of exactly where things are and what places one has visited. This is worse in Ethiopia which doesn't have a lot of tourist maps, and many tourist attractions have little or no online presence.

Consider this afternoon in Tigray. We have a GPS track of our visit to a wonderful rock hewn church, but which one? Following the GPS track and zooming in on the map reveals a landmark called Iglesia Johannes makata. Google has THREE hits on that three word sequence and about 98 if the order of the words doesn't matter. None of the links is particularly informative.

We do know, from the GPS track, that the church was north of Hawzen as are many churches in Tigray. According to the Bradt Guide, one easily accessible church - about our speed - in the area is Maryam Bahera which is noted for having as one of its treasures "an ancient Ge’ez scripture". The priest did show us a fascinating, heavily illustrated and ancient religious book written in Ge'ez, the writing system used in this part of Ethiopia, and the exterior of the church did have a picture of Mary, or Maryam.

It probably doesn't matter exactly which church we visited. It was both amazing and fascinating, an ancient space carved from living rock. One can feel both the sacredness of the space and the sense of time, neither of which can be captured all that well by a digital camera.

A rock formation visible across the fields

Thee countryside

Dry country

Rock formations - Those are the stone bells in the cleft.

A mother and baby hyrax

A more distant view of those hyraxes (or is it hyrices) - Ethiopia is full of mysteries.

Trees towards the church

The gateway to the church grounds

An ancient manuscript with St. George killing the dragon

The priest showing us one of the treasured crosses

Church paintings

Light from above

The exterior of the church with the portrait of Mary visible

A biblical looking dove

Another bird we have to look up

Harvest fields - wheat, barley, teff

Gathering clouds

More drama

Blue sky

Keywords: ethiopia