A Travellerspoint blog

The road to Bahir Dar

This is Africa

sunny 30 °C
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The bus was moving at a snail's pace but no slower than expected. We had some 500km to Bahir Dar with an an anticipated trip time of 12 hours. When we left we were dreading the twelve hours, when we arrived 12 hours seemed like the blink of an eye. The first 3 or so hours went smoothly, then we arrived at the Blue Nile gorge. The crossing was basically a road snaking its way down a cliff face and then back up another cliff on the other side. On the second turn we encountered our first overturned truck. This was just a mood setter. Despite the ominous dirt road and obvious lack of guard rails we reached the river crossing in about half an hour. The ascent was another matter. About half way up our bus broke down. As per usual all the guys jumped out and tried to fix it but no one had any idea. Five hours later apparently someone had done something and we were on our way. Three quaters of the way up we broke down again and again at 4/5 and again at... You get the idea. By nightfall we had made covered about 150km and were in the middle of no where. We stayed in a tiny village with no running water or electricity. On the plus side the room only cost $2.50 aussie for the night.

The following morning entailed another pre 5am rise and walk to the bus station. Once again we didn't actually get out of the station for over 3 hours. This time though we departed in a mini-van, something we had drooled over as they flew past us the previous day. Right on queue though, an hour down the track it broke down aswell. Another hour was spent on the side of the road before one of our fellow passengers organised another van. By this time we had become very close to our fellow travellers despite the fact that we couldn't speak a word to each other. Due to this comradery they went in to bat for us on everything. Ensuring that we got a seat, ensuring our bags were looked after, haggling over our prices and buying/giving us food. We couldn't say a bad thing about any of them. Cutting a long ride short, two full days after we left Addis we arrived at our destination, Bahir Dar having travelled something like 350km as the crow flies.

Posted by jaredlking 06:19 Archived in Ethiopia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Addis Ababa

Jumping at Shadows

sunny 30 °C
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We arrived in Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia) at about 2030 local time. With the help of the efficient staff we disembarked, changed money, bought our visas, went through immigration, picked up our bags (much to our delight) and passed customs in the space of 30 minutes. That will probably be the last time we see efficiency in Ethiopia. When we left the airport we were given a price for a taxi which was probably too much but we accepted anyway. We were then taken to the taxi rank where a group of about 10 men stood around us arguing. In the end someone explained to us that no one knew where our destination was. One guy
eventually piped up and said he knew it was but he wanted 10 birr (1 USD) more.

We agreed again and got into the unmarked taxi. After about 15 minutes he pulled up some tiny back alley and said he didn't really know where the hotel was. Great! He called out to some guy who pointed to the corrugated fencing and said something to the extent of 'that's it'. We were getting a little nervous but the taxi driver had warmed to us over the duration of the drive. After a couple of minutes of loud knocking someone answered the, well, the fence. They showed us a room which later that night we affectionately dubbed the panic room. Once again we accepted the inflated price and locked the door with no intention of opening it until morning. Our minds turned everything into twisted tales of torture but nothing could compare to the tormenting sounds of Di's snoring. None the less we both fell asleep in time.

When morning came we took our time before we decided we needed to get outside. To our relief there were no pools of blood or gutted corpses and we breathed a sigh of relief. It was time to see Ethiopia. We had a list of chores to take care of for the day.We needed sleeping mats, a sim card, to buy some bus tickets, we wanted to go to the museum and try some local cuisine. With the help of a local guide we took care of all of the above. The main point of interest was the museum which contained several skeletons some of which were over 3 million years old, including the famous 'Lucy'. The guide was useful for a one day introduction but it was a never again experience.

After a day of heat, dust and walking we were tired early. We tried to get internet to let everyone know we were safe but as is a regular occurence here the electricity went down and the dream was over.

We retired to the panic room feeling much safer than the previous night. After turning our lights out I awoke with a bad feeling, I had bought the wrong bus tickets. Too late to do anything so we set the alarm for 0430 and went back to sleep.

A quick taxi ride to the bus station in the morning dropped us in the middle of thousands of people well before the sun came up. With no english speakers to be seen and a complete lack of Amharic we were a little stranded. Some aimless wandering and with a little assistance we found that the bus we wanted to catch had no seats. A really helpful local student called Sisay tok us under the wing, scalped our old tickets and bought some to a city past our desired destination so we could just jump off early. Mind you this was a 90 minute process. In the end we were happily seated on our bus. In the process of all this we had been helped, abused, overcharged and I had been pick pocketed. Many valuable lessons were learnt.

Posted by jaredlking 05:26 Archived in Ethiopia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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