After asking around, we discovered that there were no direct buses from Lalibela to Mek’ele. In addition, the route was over 400km, on roads of varying quality. We knew it was going to be a bit of an ask to make it to Mek’ele in a day; still, it would be an experience if nothing else, and when some people laughed at our enquiries, and told us that it would be almost impossible to make it in a day, we had no other option but to accept this as a challenge, and commit ourselves to spending several hours crammed into the back of various buses, with no other plan than relying on chronic optimism to get us where we wanted to go.
Getting to Awra Amba was part of the appeal, given that its location is best described as ‘off the beaten track’. After the usual arguments at the bus station, negotiating prices and reclaiming our luggage from over-eager teenagers, we were able to secure a bus from Bahir Dar heading east. Without hesitation, our bags were tied to the roof, and we folded ourselves into a minibus ready for the mercifully short journey.