Crossed into Ethiopia, easy enough to change money on both sides of the border, but you obviously don’t get very good rates this way, there’s an ATM in the bank on the Ethiopian side, despite what the book say’s.
Other overlander’s be warned,you may meet Biruk, who claims to be something akin to Chris, from Jungle Junction’s long lost brother, he is a tour guide/fixer, potentially useful, but be warned conversations constitute work and therefore require payment . We eventually tracked down Omar, who everyone regarded the best mechanic in Moyale- (0911722353) he sourced parts, then fixed the prop.
We stayed at Koket Borena Hotel, not bad, but not great either, a very busy, noisy place, accomodating mainly locals, but with no other options availible to us,we were just glad to get some sleep.
Set off the following morning, car going well, until about 20 km up the road, when there was yet another horrible noise and we discovered the rear half shaft bearings etc had fallen apart, another success chalked up to the so-called expert Landrover mechanic in Uganda. Phoned Omar, who found a hubb, we had all the other bits,and after a few hours on the side of the road, during which we were inspected by a steady stream of local kids, we were on our way once more.
Slightly concerned, that at this rate, we’d be needing another year to get out of Africa, we steadily drove on toYabello, on a patchy, pot-holed road for the first half, then good tar after that, stopped again en-route,for a minor brakes repair and overheating issues, topping up with water every 40k,leaving behind us a huge audience that had gathered at every stop- all with their hands out.
No camping in Yabello, so we stayed at Hotel Wabi in a little room with a cold shower and very stinky drains, ate some good Ethiopian food at The Yabello Motel.
From here we went on to the Lakeside city of Hawassa, in the Rift valley, 300 km south of Addis Ababa, camped on the shores of the lake at the Midroc Zewed village,they let us have a shower in one of the rooms, we had to fight off the monkeys who bombarded the car, but it was nice enough as a stop-over.
Had a whizz about town in a tuk-tuk that evening, which took us to “Dolce vita”for a very disappointing pizza, the book had claimed it “the best Italian” in town, so we got all excited, the book lied I think and we should know better by now!
The food is really quite good,tasty and very cheap. The staple is Injera, a huge pancake- shaped substance made from tef. The tef dough is fermented for up to three days before cooking. It is normally served with a bowl of spicy wat stew, plus beans and veggies,sadly Injera dose’nt really do it for either of us,being reminisent of a piece of old grey foam, with a rather strange flavour, an aquired taste me thinks, naturally Ethiopians love it and have it with everything in huge quantities
Tea and Coffee is lovely,drunk black and strong, slightly spiced with plenty of sugar added, in Michael’s case at least.The lumpy camel’s milk has put me off a white cuppa!
We had wanted to visit South Omo,with all it’s different tribespeople,which sounds so fascinating and also the Simien mountains, to find an Ethiopian wolf, but with various on-going car issues, we decided to play it safe and headed straight for AddisAbaba instead.
The six hour journey was long and the road incredibly busy, the landscape’s are stunning in some parts,but it’s all eyes in front of you, Ethiopia has a huge population and most of them are in the road! Along the way we encountered hundreds of camels,cattle,donkey’s, carts and people literally everywhere.
The begging was appalling however and without doubt the worst country wev’e visited from that point of view. The children have their hands out at every opportunity, shouting “you,you,you” or just simply “give me money, give me your watch, give me water” or whatever it happens to be. It is, in a word, exhausting, the hawkers won’t take no for an answer either .
Not alot of produce on sale, as in other countries, the only readily available product seems to be huge quantities of “Chat” a stimulating leaf that is traditionally popular with muslim’s forbidden from drinking alcohol, it is commonly chewed through Ethiopia and in our opinion accounts for alot of the totalled vehicles you see on the roadside. Many lorry and taxi drivers chew it to stay awake on long journeys. Sounds good, but unfortunately it turns your teeth black,not so attractive, might give it a miss!
Arrived, exhausted, in Addis. Set up camp at Wims Holland House,best described as a bar with a small patch of grass to camp on, right in the heart of Addis. Wim is Dutch, married to an Ethiopian and lived here for years. They have been very helpful to us,finding another mechanic and other such things. We spent Christmas here, which isn’t celebrated, so it was a fairly low key affair, however a Dutch couple, Ed and Wilma arrived on Christmas Eve and we enjoyed a few drinks with them. They too are travelling and trying to get to Dubai. They informed us Egypt is not allowing any 4×4 vehicles into the country at present, so we are currently looking at alternative routes to get home. It seems you may be able to ship from Sudan to Jordan, so this is the hopeful plan..