Ethiopia is a beautiful country. We really enjoy being here and will spent longer time than anticipated in the country. The people are friendly and helpful. We were never stopped by Police. Some children beg and get angry if you drive past…sometimes trying to hit the bakkie with their whips but that only happened twice. When you beg back, they start laughing. The people of Ethiopia are mostly farmers and work very very very hard. The sad thing is that the Ethiopians are not schooling there children . The saying goes that if all the children in Ethiopia will attend school, the country’s work force will come to a grinding halt. We arrived in Addis Ababa at Wim’s Holland House where it immediately was clear that we could not pitch our tent in the small overcrowded area being squashed in between Fanie’s Lodge and to our joy, our Austrian friends from JJ’s huge trucks.. The small area available were either under mud or dog pooh! We heard from Renate that there is one room next to the restaurant, so of we went in search of the room. We ended up renting the room for 200Birr per night (it has an ensuite bathroom but…..yes!), brought our bakkie to the restaurant area and had the nicest pizza since Mossel Bay with a bottle of not too expensive Gouder red wine, produced in Ethiopia. We had a huge get together dinner with the Austrians, eating Wim’s delicious, not too expensive food, drinking Ethiopian red wine and telling and hearing travel stories!! It was a feast. We took our bed to our newly acquired room after I used our broom on the floor. Riaan, the guy who are circumnavigating Africa on his BMW bike, stayed in the room before us and it was not cleaned at all after he left. (Sadly we missed him by 1 day. He left for Marsabit the day we were on our way to Langano. We hoped to meet him on route because we were in contact since when he was still planning his trip and ours still very vaguely outlined. He is on his way home now via the eastern route after going north via the western route and Europe. It started raining and raining and raining! We could only get the tent really dry (it was still wet after Lake Langano), after the 3rd day when the sun came out for about 1 hour before it started raining again. Wim’s Holland House is in the centre of the city, so it was very convenient to walk to find whatever we were looking for except a good supermarket. Wim had to go to the electricity department and because he cannot drive his vehicle because of bad eyesight, asked Arno to drive him there and then he will navigate us to a supermarket afterwards So off we went in Wim’s very old Nissan Patrol with him blindly navigating Arno where to drive, Arno driving with a left hand drive car in pouring rain on the right side of the road in chaotic traffic while Wim’s neighbour (never got his name)were countering Wim’s navigation and I sat with the GPS on my lap, quietly telling Arno from the backseat where and when to turn, how many metres before turning etc! It was all huge fun. Arno is a star for driving with so much self assurance under these very difficult circumstances. In the meantime our travel companion Fanie decided that because the constant rain is driving him crazy and making him depressed, is moving on towards Lalibela while we still had to do our shopping. We hope he enjoys the rest of his lonely trip through Africa. We decided to rather move directly towards the Sudan border and do the rest of the historic route on route back. The next morning we left for Arba Minch. It was amazing to get our first glimpse of the Blue Nile (red) which is in flood. We stopped at the new bridge over the Nile to take photo’s happy to reach this goal! The road down the Nile valley, built by the Japanese, is unbelievably bad and dangerous. The Japanese did some research on what happened to the road and the outcome is that it is a water problem and not a seismic problem as initially though. It is really difficult to describe but I will try. The road is sagging all over the place making huge bumps, little valleys, holes, corrugation and furrows. We were warned about this treacherous part of our route and are very thankful that we are not going back that way!! We stayed at the Tilik Hotel (220Birr) in a wonderful modern room with a REAL ensuite bathroom, eating an Ethiopian dish called Injera with Kai ( a sort of rubbery pancake with spicy meat stew) witch you eat with your hand. We were also invited by the Manager to join the traditional coffee ceremony. It was a huge experience and privilege to be so heartily made welcome and to be part of the ceremony. The coffee is absolutely divine. We also bought a bottle of Tej (Honey wine) witch is still in the fridge. It is not really wine but fermented honey and is a very popular beverage in Ethiopia. Again it rained, rained, rained.
We had to step over these bunch to get out of our room
Camping in a restaurant
This man lives on the pavement in central Addis (under the blue plastic) We saw him everyday sleeping there
Is that a MIG?
We drove through the millions of Moses, Dawid, Aaron, Maria, Josef and all the other known Bible characters towards Bahir Dar and Lake Tana. Sadly because of the immensely heavy rains, the 30km normally very bad road to the Nile Falls were inaccessible so we decided that we will give that a skip. The Monastery on the island on Lake Tana were also on our list but because of the flooding and lots of rain, we decided against that as well. We stayed at the Ethio Star Hotel 25USD with Wi-Fi included that did not work and on top of that a fool for a manager that believed his idiot of an electrical maintenance man who told him that we are using up the Hotel’s electrical supply, calling at our door every now and then to talk about this overuse!! Arno patiently explained about the use of electricity and then finally flipped! Excuses came from the management but we still left the next morning for Gonder.
The coffee ceremony
All the rivers are in flood and running into the Blue Nile
NOT good to be a donkey (or child) in Ethiopia
Thousands of farmers busy working on their lands
The drunken road into and out the Nile valley
Bridge across the Nile
This scary road sign before going into the Nile Valley and the drunken road.
A tank out of World War II left where it stopped.
Mat weavers next to the road
We drove to Gonder where we stayed 1 night in a bug infested room because of the rain that follows us through Ethiopia. I never though that 1 person can have so many different type of bite marks on his or her body. Luckily it did not itch but I started coughing from time to time and took Celestemine because I know I am allergic to insect bites. We took a few photo’s of the old city wall and castle and headed towards Matema and the Sudan border knowing that when we come back to Ethiopia in a few weeks we will stay at a better place and explore the antique city.
The afternoon before the bed bugs started biting!