|Co-ords||N 14 02 44.3
E 33 23 17.3
|Fuel||193 L 49 496.7km into tank and reserver|
Another long, hard day. Finally got into Ethiopia, well across the border anyway at about 6pm.
The road to Gallabat was terrible. It was very muddy in places and we had to tow the Kombi out 5 or 6 times. It’s all very different to sand but still hard work. We left the hotel early but were turned back at the exit to Gedaref to get our passports checked in town. This didn’t take too long – just one hour. The road to Dokar was OK. It was a bit muddy but not too bad though no one actually uses the road because it is full of potholes and ruts. Everyone uses the tracks next to it. We averaged around 30km/hr.
From Dokar to Gallabat it all fell apart. The road is a track, more like a ploughed track. After just a little rain it was already muddy. The truck went well but the Kombi was ploughing it’s own track. We towed it out a few times. The road is also not at all clear so we had to ask directions at each village. It took us 3 hours to do the last 20km. We even broke the good tow rope getting Felix’s Kombi out of the mud.
We finally reached Gallabat (6 huts and a referee). The Sudan/Ethiopia border is marked by a dry riverbed. Formalities were quick (around 1 hour). It was late and we wanted to sleep there but the border people told us to cross over into Ethiopia as there is a hotel in Matema, the first Ethiopian town. Crossing was over a wrecked bridge which we had to negotiate in low range as it was very rocky. The Kombi had problems but fortunately made it.
The Ethiopians had a look at the passports and then started to look in all the boxes. Deary me (not what I said) but they got bored after three of them. Good. Next we learnt that immigration is not there so we have to go to the next town (40km away in the dark – shit) where we will get a letter from the police in the morning which will allow us to continue. We had a policeman, Teferi Magos, come with us. We passed through 2 checkpoints, each had a talk to the policeman and let us through. We were also stopped by 2 men who walked out of a bar and asked to see our passports, God knows who they were.
We slept in the car outside the Police Station in Shahede.
9th June 1999 (or
9/3/1991 In Ethiopia)
Also 10th,11th and 12th June 99
|Co-ords||N 12 46 35.3
E 36 24 27.3
So why so long with no writing. Besides being on a different calender, another thing about Ethiopia is that the day starts at zero hour so 6am western time is 0am Ethiopian time. 7am for us is 1am in Ethiopia. Odd.
Anyway, we are still, on the 12/6 in Shahede (not on any map) 4 days after arriving. The immigration story is that without this man who will stamp our passport we cannot go on. We have cleared customs because there are 16 customs officials here but no immigration man yet. We are camped in the customs/immigration compound.
On the 9 June we learnt that we had to wait for the immigration man who had been called away to Addis two weeks before and had still not returned. We were taken by the police to immigration/customs and then to ‘management’ who turned out to be city (or in this case very small village) council. Everyone said to wait that maybe he would be back that day or the day after. This is still the same message on the 12 June.
We did find another European traveller in town, a German, who had already been here 5 days. He is staying in the best hotel in town, a bed in a room, no water, no shower, no nothing. Poor guy looked so shot when we met him, he was cracking up. Now he is a lot better because we are here to accompany him. Not because of how nice we are (but that’s true too) but because more people means more pressure to get a solution.
Also a Dutch couple arrived on a motorbike. They are wanting to go to Sudan. So we are all camping in the compound waiting for one man. Daphne and Robert are into their third year of travel on the bike around the world. They are on what they call a ‘ride on world’ tour and are doing work with children collecting and swapping drawings from kids all over the world. Working with SOS children’s villages.
So we all wait. Four days for us, nine days for the German Kolja Prunst. There are also 23-60 (depending on the source) Ethiopian and Sudanese people waiting for this immigration man.
Our fifth night approaches. We have just sent one of the customs enforcers (what they call themselves) to find us two chickens for dinner. We have all been eating and cooking together over the last few days. We have eaten injera many times and have had lots of tea and coffee from the locals. Whenever we go into the village (200m away) we are surrounded by kids going ‘you, you, you, you’ and ‘where are you go?’. They are quite cute and the girls are very pretty. However, take out the camera and the view is obscured by kids.
We were invited for tea and coffee by one family with really good-looking people and they lets us take pictures. We went back today with the Polaroid and took 5. It’s like magic to them. It’s hard though because they always want more.
It has begun to rain in the evenings which is good because it cools things down. It’s fucking hot. But the rain brings heavy wind and our big tent does not stand up in it so we have the small tent out. It also is bad news because the more it rains the harder it is going to be for us to get out of here. The roads become impassable. More mud.
I spent some time looking under the car. We have bashed the rear stabilizer arm. It’s not too serious though. Also found a nail in the tyre but it had not got right in so no puncture.
The immigration man has just arrived. Yay!!!! Small Yay. He apologised about 100 times and then disappeared looking for the guy with the keys in Alfons’ Kombi. Not looking in the Kombi but using the Kombi, driven by Alfons to look for the key man.
When he returned, the entering faranji were dealt with first and then the exiting next. Very simple process, fill in a small form and get a stamp. 5 days waiting suddenly became so clear.
The chickens were crap. Toughest bird on the planet. I remember a joke
from the 1980’s – What’s the fastest animal on earth? An Ethiopian chicken.
It was during their worst famine in years when over 1 million people died.
We thought the joke was funny then.
13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th June 99
|Co-ords||N 12 32 15.2
E 37 28 06.4
Again 4 days with no writing. Well I have actually had a hard few days. Firstly a catch up.
We left Shahede at about 8:30am on the 13th. We had one of the customs guys with us and the car was heavy, heavy, heavy with all the jerry cans full and water and an extra big guy. Poor thing bounced and swayed along like a beginner on a pogo stick.
The road was not too muddy but we had to cross the river a few times. The first crossing I did and Renee did all the rest. Why? Because I started to get ill.
We all got stuck on one crossing. The Kombi was in front, got stuck on some rocks and we had a damn hard time trying to get past it in the river to tow it out. Managed in the end. We arrived at Gondar at about 4:30pm and headed for the best hotel in town. I was feeling really, really shit and halfway dinner I gave up and went to bed.
This is where it all collapsed. I was aching from head to toe, vomiting, shitting, had a fever and was really ready to give up. At about 11pm I could take no more and asked Renee to take me to the hospital. I am sure she has written more about the rest of the night because she had to do all the driving (luckily with one of the hotel's employees) at night. I was in true agony and curled up on the back seat. I got an injection and was sent back to the hotel. Still in amazing agony clamping both sets of cheeks tightly shut. At the hotel I lost complete control but the injection started to take and I slept.
The next morning I passed out on a trip to the bathroom (bloody scary) which was rewarded with yet another trip to the hospital. This time I had to shit into 2 handmade paper cups in a foul squat toilet so they could do tests and was sent away with tablets (7 days 4 times a day 2 tablets), 21 vials of antibiotic and 21 syringes and needles. Bloody hell. I had to inject myself with this stuff 3 times a day for a week????
Luckily Alfons could do injections and show Renee how. I was not even capable of walking. The long and the short of it is that today we moved out of the Goha Hotel into the Fogera ($14 instead of $48 but still more than acceptable), with me recovering well. I visited another doctor who told me to stop the injections (Good news for Renee too I think, but she was just starting to get the hang of it) and continue with the pills for another 3 days.
To be honest this was a scary experience for both Renee and I. Passing out, getting really dehydrated and just losing it is not fun. Anyway, recovery is assured though I am very weak and we do not think we will hike for long in the Simien Mountains. Tomorrow we start tourist things after an incredible 9 or 10 days in Ethiopia.
We had our third farewell dinner with Alfons and Felix (bad luck to do because they always turn out not to be). I am sure we will meet again. Went for a coffee ceremony to the house of a boy who has adopted us. All faranji get adopted by someone. David is quite bright and we don’t mind having him around. He also chases all the other shoe shine kids away. See you tomorrow then, goodnight.
Side Note (or bottom one): David, the boy we had coffee with, told us
that he would never go to Matema because there are men with 4 eyes (2 in
the front and 2 in the back) who catch you and sell you as slaves.
17th June 99
|Co-ords||N 12 36 58.3
E 37 28 19.8
A great day. Still a little weak but eating and drinking well so on the road well and truly. Amazing day. We took a guide, Seyoum Zigzaw, to show us around (150 Birr) and it was really well worth it. He is very, very knowledgeable and had some good stories to tell.
We first visited the Debre Brihan Selasie church “The Trinity”. It’s quite amazing with painted walls 300 years old. Hope the photo’s work out, couldn’t use the flash. The paintings are all done on cotton and then pressed (like wallpaper) onto the mud-plastered wall.
We were told that two types of “holy man” exist (officially). The priest who after 20-23 years of study may enter the innermost chamber (all the churches are based on the holy temple of Jerusalem with 3 chambers). He may take a wife and have his own possessions and even another job, like farming. The next is the monk – he decides, either during priest school or actually at any time, to fully dedicate his life to God. He may not have any possessions and of course no wife. The monks live in the towers of the churches.
Next we went to the Royal enclosure. This is where King Fasil and the next 7 or 8 generations of kings and queens built their castles. Lots of restoration work going on so we couldn’t go inside the castle. Also, lots of it was partially bombed by the British chasing the Italians out. We met a French girl there who was doing a Ph.D. on the effects of King Fasil on Ethiopia. The trees are quite awesome and the green bush reminded me of England of all places.
We had lunch and then went to see Fasil’s Pool. This is built in the same stone style as the castles. It was used for recreation then and today is used for huge mass christenings. Next we went to see Mentuab’s retreat. She apparently went into exile (not 10km from her castle in the royal enclosure) when her son married a woman from another region. There is also a church which was destroyed by invaders and rebuilt by the Italians. It is now being painted in similar style to the Debre Brihan Selasie church but is good to see because then you can compare today with 300 years ago.
We also visited the Felasha village but it was a bit of a disappointment. We did buy some pottery, a coffee pot and a kind of egg thing with apparently King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba making love inside. Needs some imagination.
We arranged a guide to go hiking in the Simiens tomorrow. Good stuff. We will only do three days. We unloaded lots of stuff from the car as we will come back here on Sunday. Looking forward to being out there but we are expecting it to be very cold (around zero we’ve been told) and windy. A chance to use our cold weather gear.
It seems as if Alfons and Felix have left. Our farewell dinner was finally
a success. I’ll certainly miss them but it’s good not to have to consider
too many opinions before doing something. Not that we had any problems
doing that either. So, tomorrow is another day. We got a fax from Betsy
today which was nice. Good Night.
18th June 99
|Co-ords||N 12 36 58.3
E 37 28 19.8
|Fuel||50 L 49 954.4km from reserve|
We are camping at Chanek in the Simien Mountains National Park. It’s at 3640m. It took us about 5 hours to drive from Gondar including all formalities at the Park Office. It cost us 240 Birr in Park fees including the scout (an old man with an old rifle). We have a very knowledgeable guide costing 100 Birr/Day. Robert told us between 75 and 100 so this is OK. People here have had hardly any work over the last few months due to a steep drop in tourism caused by the war.
The drive in the park is on fairly good roads except for the last 10km which is hard, rocky and muddy. Some steep climbs too. It’s OK but slow and of course if there have been no landslides which they were clearing when we came.
Chanek is a food distribution point to the hungry people of this area. The rains over the past few years were bad and this year they are late so there are loads of people. They started to gather around us as we put up the tent but our scout and a scout who stays here (he carries an AK47) chased them away.
It is cloudy and rainy but we went for a walk along the cliffs for a while. We saw tons and tons of baboons, long haired ones, (can’t remember the name but it starts with a G), a lammergeier and tons of other birds. Quite nice.
This afternoon the wind howled and it poured with rain. Glad to report
that our tent stayed up and dry. We had rice for supper (we have to cook
for the scout and the guide too) and then sat around a smoky camp fire
for a while. It’s now 8pm and I’m in my thermal gear ready for bed. Tomorrow
we drive back down to Sankabar and walk to the third highest peak in the
range. Good stuff. I’m feeling OK so must have recovered. Oh yes, Renee
found a blood filled tick in my sleeping bag. Shit. Hopefully I will remain
OK. We are both bitten to death by any number of monsters. OK, see ya.
19th June 99
|Co-ords||N 13 15 46.4
E 38 11 31.8
“Oh when will I be clean again”. That’s what Renee has just said. True. It feels as if we have been slumming it forever. Living on the floor is how I term camping.
Well, it was a good day really. We left at about 8am and went a bit further along the road away from Chanek. We stopped along the cliffs and saw our first Ibex, they were actually walking along the cliff as if it was a flat surface. We also got our first puncture and changed the wheel.
We then drove halfway back to Sankabar and parked by the wayside. We left our brave scout to guard the car while we aimed for the 3rd highest peak in the park. After 3 hours I was knackered (still weak from my unknown illness) so we had lunch and headed back. We saw tons of birds (see list at end) and also more baboons.
We then stopped near a waterfall. Really tall, the guide says 800m but I’m not sure, and spectacular.
We pitched camp at Sankabar and had a look at the flat wheel. It had a nail in it. We fixed it using the repair kit for tubeless tyres and it seems to have worked. We will see tomorrow.
It rained and even hailed this evening. The guide and scout have no sleeping tent so are under a half destroyed rondawel roof. We gave them our sleeping rolls and ground sheet. Hopefully they will be OK.
I am ready for a bit of civilisation right now but am going to have
to wait for a long time. Oh well, been there, done that and tomorrow back
20th June 99
|Co-ords||N 13 13 50.7
E 38 02 29
|Fuel||50 L 50 140.6km from reserve|
It seems as if Renee’s wish has come true. We got back to Gondar at about 1 and after a major car sort out had a HOT shower. Yes, hot. Wow. Slept OK in the mountains. No rain but a bit of wind. The scout and guide seemed to be OK so it can’t have been too bad. Renee made mielie pap again. The scout will eat non-stop so we don’t worry about quantity.
We went for a walk along the cliff tops. We saw a huge troop of baboons with many males. It’s mating season so a pretty busy time for them all. Another troop came onto their patch so there was lots of noise and chasing. No actual contact though. We also saw another lammergeier.
We then headed back to Debark and arrived at about 10. Had a Pepsi and an egg sandwich and headed for Gondar. The scout stayed behind but his seat was taken by someone else. No more. We shared the driving back. The bad roads are becoming a real pain. On arrival we refilled the car. Still have 5 jerries of Sudan’s finest Diesel, which is pretty shit because the poor truck smokes like hell. Next scheduled service is Uganda so hopefully it all continues to go OK. It still pulls like a horse. We completely emptied the car out and restocked all the boxes. I put the ‘fixed’ wheel back on, we will have to see if it works, I hope so.
We met an English lady near town who sets up children’s’ homes. Her name is Kate and she invited us to a party tomorrow afternoon, the kids are giving a concert. We hope to be going to Bahr Dahr so will pop in on the way out of town. There are also two Americans in the room next door to us who arrived yesterday. They are travelling Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. No new overlanders and no more news of Rob and Daphne. Hopefully they are not in Ethiopia with a valid Sudanese visa.
So, here I am clean. Full of bites from something or other, but generally happy. Tomorrow we hit the road again ever inching south. We plan to see a few things in Ethiopia and may still be here for two more weeks. Tonight we go to the Goha hotel for dinner and to see if there is a fax for us.
21st June 99
|Co-ords||N 12 32 15.2
E 37 28 06.4
We left Gondar after sending a fax update and saying cheers to the kids we knew. We gave David 10Birr and a promise to write. We popped in at the Kindu trust children’s home and left them some biscuits for tonight’s party.
The road from Gondar to Bahir Dahr is better than the road north but not much. We did however mange to get into 4th gear every now and then. We stopped at one town 77km away from Gondar to buy a coke and then at another to buy what looked like great corn on the cob being cooked over a fire. It turned out to be fairly chewy nothing. We stopped out of town on the side of the road to eat it. It took all of two minutes to get an audience and all of 1 minute to leave after that. The kids just stand a meter away and stare at you. Great fun.
We hit a major disaster. We got a very serious puncture and banged the rim. We got into town at about two. We had the usual ‘give me’, ‘mister’ and ‘you’ shouts and found quite a nice hotel for 75 Birr (less than $10) called the Gihon. You can camp for 33 Birr but away form the car. Anyway at under $10 I will always choose the hotel. We went off for a juice and pastry and then tried to fix the wheel. The hole was simply too big. We found a tyre man who put a tube in for us. 10Birr for about an hours work plus they offered me a Mirinda which I really appreciated. So the wheel’s up but the tyre’s fucked. Anyway, it will last us as an emergency. Maybe we’ll buy a new one in Addis. It poured with rain so we ate at the hotel. It was OK but nothing to write home about so I won’t.
Then to bed. We have put up our own mossie net but haven’t seen any yet. As we are right next to the lake, there are bound to be.
22nd June 99
|Co-ords||N 11 35 27.2
E 37 23 21
A day of a bit of stress I’m afraid. When we arrived yesterday we noted that a slight noise was coming from the right front wheel. Today I investigated and came up with a bit of a blank. I replaced the swivel bearing and diff oil and also re-greased the wheel bearings. I could not remove the hub because the bloody brake calipers seem to be glued on. I did not find any play in the drive shaft so I assume (oops - assume really means ass between you and me) that the bearings are still good. We put the two good wheels on the front to see if it was not just shit tyres. It may also be that we are just not used to the hearing road noise of tyres on good tarmac. This town is crazy. It has three lane roads going through it with not much traffic.
This afternoon we headed off to the water falls. I know the morning is better but it is overcast and will stay so for tomorrow morning too so I don’t see much difference. The road there is pretty shit and now it’s getting muddy too. 30km to the ticket office a few km to the parking and 10minute walk. The parking is hard to find, we eventually had a boy on the roof rack shouting left here, right here etc. The falls are very muddy due to the recent rains but still quite spectacular. Mind you, 60km of bad road makes it hard for you to justify putting the car through the pain. We got back to the hotel at about 5:30pm and noticed that the tie down holding the sand ladders had broken. Oh well, we will find a place inside for them.
This evening we will eat somewhere else. The hotel food is OK but as
I said, nothing to write home about (twice now). No clue as to where, maybe
drive around to another hotel. Tomorrow we will pack the car differently.
Dust is getting in the back so we will lie the remaining seat down and
slide the top boxes onto it. We’ll see how that works. Then off to Lalibela
to look at some rock churches. I have the need to get going south. That’s
my only goal – to get through the country. A bit sad but there you go.
23rd June 99
|Co-ords||N 11 35 27.2
E 37 23 21
|Fuel||40 L 50 688.4km from reserve|
We arrived in Lalibela very stressed. The drive took the whole day until we arrived just before 7pm. We got a very serious puncture on the rocks – split the tyre. This made the drive worse because our other spare is pretty fucked too. We found the new road to Lalibela fairly easily. We are camping at the Seven Olives hotel. This is a government hotel a charge $48 for a double room. We decided to camp at $12. There are only two other guests here beside us.
My leg is very sore where I had the injections and the skin is numb.
Hopefully no long term problems. Going to bed knackered.
24th June 99
|Co-ords||N 12 02 04.7
E 39 02 50.2
We arranged a guide for 150 Birr (actually $17) for both of us to show us around the churches. They are quite amazing. Legend has it that the people were helped by angels and I must admit that if the population was not enormous 900 years ago then it must have taken some divine intervention to have built them all in one lifetime.
We visited the Western group this morning, including St George’s and the Eastern group plus the monks and nuns this afternoon. The guide was good (more about him later) and he showed us around a labyrinth of caves and passageways. I was surprised to hear about, and even see one or two, hermits who live in holes in the wall. Quite amazing.
Today was a money day in a big way. At the entrance to the sites (luckily not the churches) are groups of beggars to whom you must give money. Also, each priest, monk or nun costs 1 Birr to photograph. We had a guy carry our shoes and my tripod, 10 Birr. We visited the nuns and monks homes (more holes), 12 Birr. Donated money to a football team, 10 Birr. This was after the coach saw me photographing in the village. There were various other handovers too. Lalibela is quite expensive.
The town smells bad too with no sewage and loads of starving beggars from the rural areas. It’s all very sad. This village has given Renee the urge to get out of Ethiopia.
The guide has quite a story to tell. About 3 years ago, the famous Lalibela cross was stolen (7kg of pure gold 900 years old). The priests of the church were detained and tortured by the police, which of course led to much finger pointing (anything to stop the torture). The guide was fingered and he ended up being beaten and jailed without trial for 1 year and 9 months (sound familiar?). He was released without the cross being found but was naturally an outcast in town. Three weeks ago the cross was returned. It was stolen and sold, through many hands, to a Belgian (it was traced because it was delivered by mail – can you believe – and some Belgian postal guy noticed). Anyway at a public replacing our guide was publicly apologised to. Now he is greeted by everyone like a bit of a hero. That’s his story anyway and a good one too.
After our tour we went to his house for coffee. We got the tyre fixed
and found we had to weld the power steering reservoir back on. All in all
it cost us 170 Birr. In Addis we will try to buy new tyres. Had a great
dinner at the Blue Lal restaurant and now off to bed. Good Night.
25th June 99
|Co-ords||N 12 02 04.7
E 39 02 50.2
|Fuel||50 L 51 103.2km from reserve
35.9 L 51 167km
Woke up after an excellent night’s sleep. We went to the same restaurant as last night for breakfast and had pancakes. Really good.
We headed back to the Waldia highway 62km along the same route we had taken to get to Lalibela. It took us a little under 2 hours – we seem to average 30km/h. The road is still pretty poor though I suppose that after 2 days we could not have expected them to do anything about it! The Waldia highway is also pretty shit but does improve as it goes over the pass 3500m high. You can go 60km/h – Wow. But here the road surface is covered with a fine talcum powder dust so it’s hard to see when going past trucks.
We arrived at Waldia for lunch – injera and veg, and decided to head on for Kombulcha. The road started off as tarmac though we still could not go more than 60 because it is very bumpy. Sadly it soon gave way to bad pot holes and rocks. Eventually we were doing 20km/h again. The road is tarmac between Desse and Kombulcha but still not good and very windy.
We arrived in town at about 5 and after a quick look around found a hotel with parking, about 800m from the town centre. We took a walk to town for a juice and pastry and then back to the hotel for dinner – roast lamb. It was quite good but more like stewed – no injera, just bread.
This is a major truckers stop as it is on the route from Djibouti. We
expect a noisy night, we also have tons of pigeons on the roof clattering
around and a cricket in the bathroom. We have no water though. Africa,
what else. Tomorrow to Addis Ababa 360 km away – long day.
26th June 99
|Co-ords||N 11 04 29.4
E 39 44 30.8
Turns out not to have been such a long day after all. We averaged 50! Though the pass over Debre Sina and Debre Brihan was slow going. The road is tar but in those places the tar is very bad and full of potholes. Not much danger to the tyres but quite glad we have double shocks. Contrary to Robert’s advice, both Renee and I drive. We find it not too bad, Tunisia was worse for people in the streets. Though here in Ethiopia it does seem to be a challenge for the teenagers to be able to hit the car as you pass. Sometimes it’s quite a bang. I don’t really like it. The young kids throw stones at the car but I don’t think it’s with any malicious intent.
We arrived in Addis at about 2:30 and went straight to the Baro hotel. It really is a bit of a dump but it does have parking. We looked at two other hotels, the Wutma over the road is far better, cheaper, has better food but has no parking. The other, the Park hotel, was too much in a dark alley for my liking though Renee liked it. So the Baro it is but I would not recommend it. In fact the only other traveller who arrived the same day as us, moved out. Tomorrow is Sunday so we will take advantage of that to sort out the car.
We will sleep in our sleeping bags tonight because the beds aren’t too
kosher. There is no water so no shower either. I collected rain water so
that we could at least flush the toilet.
27th,28th and 29th June 99
|Co-ords||N 09 01 50.4
E 38 45 12.3
We have spent one more day in Addis than planned. Sunday we really could not get anything done except visit the National museum. We did get to see ‘Lucy’, supposedly the oldest humanoid.
Monday I went to do car things. Renee was not feeling too well so stayed in bed in the morning. I went with one of the hotel guys to buy tyres. First we went off the change traveller's cheques at the Mahatma Ghandi bank. Buying tyres was a pain but finally settled on 775 Birr each for two. Fitting and balancing was an extra 120 Birr (shop owner said it would be 10 Birr each so he took us to the garage. When told it would be 120 Birr I made the dogs walk back. Then I went to a garage to get the oil changed. That went OK because I bargained with the owner and they charged 45 Birr for the work.
Came back and put the new wheels on the front. Renee was feeling better though we still did not do too much. We went for a walk to a supermarket (Farfresh) which is very well stocked and also to look in a book store, book world, nearby.
Tuesday we walked to the Mercato. They say this is the biggest market in Africa and I can believe it. Renee bought some fabric and the shop guy offered to show us around. This is a good thing because the place is ripe with thieves. We looked at the spice market and also where they make and sell butter. The place is very muddy (not sure if it is just mud) and occasionally quite smelly. We bought some incense, salt, basket and honey. It’s quite interesting and I’m glad I went but once is enough.
For lunch we went to Castelli’s, for my birthday tea Bert. We went last night but did not have much money (it is about 80-100 Birr p/p) so decided to go again. Poor Renee got sick just as the starters arrived so we cut it short and I brought her back to the Baro. I don’t know what’s wrong – she gets nauseous and vomitty. Shame, still she recovered enough to go for a coffee and pastry this afternoon. Tonight she went to bed early, I will do an update for Rick.
Tomorrow we leave, I have had enough of this hotel. Though the people
are very nice, it’s a bit of a shit hole. The shower is over the toilet
for example. Anyway, both of us are itching to get to Kenya. We have met
no other overland travellers either.
30th June 99
|Co-ords||N 09 01 50.4
E 38 45 12.3
|Fuel||45.46 L 51 589km|
Renee bought me a book and I got emails wishing me happy birthday too so it was quite a good one. Renee found a nice pastry shop too so lunch was quite special.
We went for a typical breakfast with Jeff this morning, well typical for a small group of people who live about 100km South of Addis. It is called Gumfu and is made by pounding the root of a false banana tree to a pulp which is then cooked (boiled?) until it becomes all slimy. For breakfast it is served with heavily (really heavily) spiced butter and is as hot as all hell. Really odd for breakfast. It would do much better with honey but also the texture is a bit off-putting.
We left Addis at about 10am and joined our first traffic jam. The Southern road out of Addis is under construction (restruction?) without any regard for the present traffic. It took us two hours to get 17km out of town. The rest of the day’s drive was slow too. The road is tarmac but full of potholes, some really bad. We averaged 42km/h.
We stopped for lunch at a small town – Pepsi and a biscuit, and got bugged by chat doped adults asking us for money. It is very annoying that everyone, from toddlers to adults say “hello money” or even just “money” holding out their hands. I sometimes feel like telling the adults to go fuck themselves but do restrain myself. Fortunately. This attitude is exhausting and makes visiting Ethiopia exasperating.
We arrived in Awasa at about 5:30pm and found a really great hotel (91
Birr but can camp for 25) next to the lake. The rooms are big and hot water
is really a fact. We put up a mossie net because we are now in a malaria
zone. We went for a sundowner next to the lake and took some pictures.
The bird life here is amazing and we saw two types of kingfisher and even
fish eagles. We ate at the hotel (Awasi Wabi Eshabedi #2) which was not
too brilliant but the surroundings are so nice that we have decided to
stay 2 nights.
1st July 99
|Co-ords||N 07 02 54.5
E 38 27 32.1
|Fuel||30.2 L 51 871.3 km|
Had a good night’s sleep and 2 hot showers, one last night and another this morning. Renee is still suffering from explosive shits so I will have to keep an eye on her. Health-wise, I’m OK, still generally weak, full of bites of some sort and occasionally dizzy too. Oh well, today a rest.
Went off to the bank today which was quite a surprise because it was crowded. It is of course payday. I saw people counting 1000’s and 1000’s of Birr and packing 100 Birr notes into suitcases. Anyway, we got our measly 560 Birr ($70) after about an hour of pushing and shoving. We then went for juice and pastry for breakfast. Then back to the hotel and a long slow walk along the lake.
It’s really nice. We saw many birds and even successful kingfishers. We also saw a few guys using the opportunity to take a bath and clothes wash. Not too much hassling except by one guy who wanted me to take a picture of him swimming. Can’t figure out why really. We went to the Awe #1 hotel for a drink and then back to #2 for lunch. This was great – sandwiches, salad and chips.
I think the lake is getting bigger. There is a dyke around it on this side but it has water on both sides of it. This hotel has already lost one room (they are all separate bungalows) to water and there are many houses nearly underwater.
Tomorrow we want to try the 500km to Moyale. It’s a bit ambitious maybe
as only once in the last 40 days have we managed to average 50km/h or more.
Oh well, if we don’t make it, we stop en route. Tonight into town for supper.
2nd July 99
|Co-ords||N 07 02 54.5
E 38 27 32.1
What a fucking day. We did OK until Agere Maryam, averaging 50km/h. The road is OK with bad patches. Just as we were leaving an old man walked into the side of the car. I braked, swerved, hooted and did all I could to avoid him but down he went. Fuck. I got out to look and his foot was very badly wounded. I must have been braking while I drove over it or something. I immediately put him in the car, grabbed a bystander and demanded the way to the hospital before a crowd could gather. I must admit I was shitting myself.
Luckily the hospital was only about 500m away, We got him into emergency and the doctor saw him straight away. His foot was very bad with his big toe hanging by a thread and the others badly cut. Quite a mess. I was quite terrified by what I had done now that I could see it.
I took the same bystander to the police so that I could make a report. Also luckily the police station was only about 1km away. We picked up a traffic officer and went back to the scene of the accident where I explained that I had had no way of avoiding him. We even had a witness who spoke good English who explained that it was not my fault. The cop and the still present bystander dismissed him as mad.
Back to the hospital so the cop could see the patient, who by now had had his big toe amputated and the others sewn up. The made me pay for this plus another 7 days treatment, which wasn’t much (80 Birr) and also made me go into town to get tetanus stuff.
We delivered the tetanus stuff and then back to the police station where we waited about an hour for the commander – who luckily spoke English. Up to this point I had no idea what was going on. My demands for an English speaker produced a chat bombed guy who turned out pretty good.
The police now had my passport and driver’s licence. After negotiations (not including me) between the police and the chat chewer, I was called into the commander’s office and I told that I must go back to the hospital for a doctors report and to ‘settle’ things with the family. The commander told me that I would have to pay them and then I could go.
The family negotiations proved tricky as they and us needed an interpreter who they elected. It turned out OK because they chose a registered nurse (male) who knew exactly what was wrong with the man. After about an hour of them saying they didn’t want reprisal money only treatment money and me not accepting blame but being willing to help we settled on $100 in foreign currency. Back to the police station with a responsible family member to inform them that all had been settled but the commander insisted that we pay in Birr, which we did not have!! Off to the bank which was closed but does not do Forex anyway. Double fuck. Eventually we convinced the commander that dollars was the only way or else we go back to Addis to get change. Responsible family member quickly agreed knowing that if we left town we would get legal help.
Then back to the hospital for reports. This involved a long statement from the old man and a short note written by the policeman for me to sign. It was in Amharic! I wrote on the form that signing this form does not imply understanding or acceptance of the above. I then signed it and got my passport and driver’s licence back.
After giving the traffic cop a lift home (sure) and paying the chat chewer off we finally left at about 5:30pm. The accident happened at 11am can you believe.
Of course I was by now a nervous wreck. I just wanted to get the fuck out of there and we left without knowing where we would stop. Of course Moyale was out of reach. We did toy with the idea of driving on, it was about 4 hours away. In the end we stayed in Yabello at a $1 a night place which had safe parking. I won’t sleep much that’s for sure. I have visions of being hunted down by crazed mobs. I also feel very sorry for the old man. I just hope the doctors continue to be good to him.
We had injera and veg for supper and then to bed. This hotel is odd
and I’m sure that it doubles as a brothel. Kenya tomorrow. I have had enough