Whilst staying in Lalibela, Eskedar, our guide, suggested visiting an evening of music, dancing and honey wine. We drove a short distance from the “Maribela Hotel”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/travel-product/accommodation/162349-maribela-hotel, to the Torpedo Tejbet (Tej is honey wine and bet means house) and had to walk down a short, dark path and a few steps.
Not having any idea what to expect, we found a large atmospheric room with low ceiling, fairy lights and colourful wall hangings. There was a concrete bench seat right around the edge with low tables and various styles of low chairs (some of them like saddles) dotted around the inner part.
Eskedar had been the master of getting the best table or room and true to form, we had a reserved area around the outside and near the door – it was an ideal position for seeing everything. It was also out of the way as Eskedar said there would be dancing.
There was a menu of drinks, but we were there to try the honey wine at 35 birr or just over a £1. There were three types: dry, medium and sweet and we plumped for the middle option. It was served by girls dressed in traditional long colourful dresses and came in a bulbous bottle with long narrow neck. Eskedar showed us how it would traditionally be drunk with thumb and one finger only round the neck. The cloudy beige coloured liquid was ok – neither horrid nor delicious with no real strong flavour.
At 8.20pm the live music started with a man playing a lire with string made from horse tail hair. He sauntered around the room making up songs and stories, many of which were obviously funny as the locals laughed. Although there were a few tourists, this was mainly a place for local people. It was pretty packed and people kept arriving looking for somewhere to sit – good old Eskedar.
Then the traditional dancing started with both men and women performing as they walked around the room singing. The dancing involved lots of very distinctive shoulder shaking and waggling. The few tourists who joined in, all made themselves look absolutely stupid but only because they thought they were so good. We declined to dance and instead tried and shared a bottle of the dry honey wine before heading back to our hotel.