So my plan weeks and weeks ago in Addis had been to catch the USA/Canada hockey game which seemed impossible, and then head towards the group who was in the south of Ethiopia and catch up with them in Yabelo after enjoying a couple days in Shashamane.
In reality, it started off really well!
I couldn’t find the game at the aforementioned Global Hotel and found out it wasn’t playing on Supersport at all (the satellite sports channel that seemed to be the only option), so I was really down about it and the Global Hotel internet went down, so I returned to my hotel without saying bye to my American friends (sad) and tried to connect to an audio stream there, only to find CBC wasn’t streaming during the Olympics due to rights issues, ugh.
This Swedish guy came by the lobby area and got on the staff to look through the channels they got on their free Egyptian based satellite service, and low and behold with a lot of work we found it! On Abu Dhabi television, in Arabic, but it was the game! And Canada won!! 😀
The next morning I discovered online that most of the buses leave at 6am (and it was currently 8:30am), but I tried for the bus station anyways… Thinking I’d find a way, certainly… I paid very little for the taxi from my hotel to the bus station which made me realize that even though I got really good at negotiating rates down from what the drivers originally wanted in Addis, I still overpaid for every other trip. The bus station trip may have also been an overpayment, but it was like 45 minutes long and cost only double what my 5 minute trips had cost before… I came into the mayhem of the bus station and within 30 seconds was thrust on a bus which the driver assured me was headed to Shashamane. It was crowded and hot and I didn’t have a real seat (though I was sitting)… We stopped along the way in Lake Ziway and it was just filled with beggars and kids who followed me around asking for my coke bottle while it was still full of coke. Didn’t like the rest there. Shashamane came soon after, and I easily found my way to the hotel I wanted to stay at, Zion Train Lodge. 5 minutes after checking in Birgit texted me saying she’d ran out of phone credit but just filled up then and just got to Shashamane with the lunch truck to pick up some “sick” cyclists (note: this is a rasta town), and I could get a ride to camp if I wanted. I discovered that I did want that! So I quickly explained my situation to the hotel and they were totally cool with it (that place looked awesome, too!).. So I rejoined the tour!
The lunch truck was super late getting in and everyone was pissed cuz dinner was late. Then it rained and thunderstormed and was a really cool night! Noah (the camp truck driver) was alone when he got to camp and had to make up a story for the locals to get them to let us use their land, so he told them he was from the Military and they needed the land for the night. They believed him somehow despite the fact that he didn’t speak Amharic and we were all white cyclists that joined later. We heard the security (local land owners we were paying) later talking about being military for the night.
Talking to Birgit and Leah, I missed some cool days! Mostly one cool day! They camped in a national park instead of where they were supposed to because the old campsite was demolished when they got there. The new site overlooked two lakes, had ostriches and hot pools! What the F?! lol.. Oh well! I’m glad they had fun, I really needed the break! There’s some pics from their days without me below..
Rejoining, I was pretty energized and had a great day, helped by the coolness of the day! We only really rode to lunch since Birgit was feeling sick and we jumped on the truck, then played some frisbee at the end. It was a delicious night too, we had BBQ chicken (yay little pain again), and then pigged out on carmelized bananas and kettle corn that Justin made. So delicious! Great night! Funny to look back on it now (more on that later) as such an indulgence.
The next day we rode into Yabelo which was a shithole as far as rest days went. There was drinking the first night, lots of it. Sandro dove through his tent and had to get it repaired the next day. Bradley got a new nickname, Badley. 😉 Good times. I ate!
The next day was another good bike day for me, though there was headwind and cloud the whole day (actually this is probably why it was so good)… Where we camped there was “singing wells”, wells dug into the ground for water that apparently could be quite deep… The one we explored had water about 30 feet down (pics below) and was a fun time just climbing down. We saw lots of termite mounds this day too, mostly red dirt, but then when we got to camp the dirt was grey and there was grey mounds there! Very cool!
I can’t remember dinner that night, but basically it’s not mattering much anymore… I eat all the high protein meals, and the low/no protein meals I supplement with nuts (note for future riders: there’s a lot of high carbs no protein meals on this trip).
After that it was border crossing day and I went ahead with Bina to organize sim cards for Kenya in Moyale, across the border. The Ethiopian side of the border was insanity with lots of people trying to change your money for terrible rates and sell things for too high prices for those wasting their last birr. The power went out at the visa office so we had to sit there in baking heat far too long. When they finally stamped us out, Bina’s excitement was palpable. So funny. We were all so happy to leave… My favourite thing for the last couple days of riding was people asking “WHERE ARE YOU GO?!” and saying “KENYA!!!!” with the undertone of “Out of Ethiopia, bitches!”
Kenya was so nice in comparison! The immigration office had an English joke on the wall, the dude spoke perfect English, it was air conditioned… We didn’t get harassed til many minutes into the town, and then I think it was just Moyale craziness, being too close to Ethiopia… since it’s been amazing since! We camped that night at KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) campground, and it was pretty sweet. Showers and everything… Then on to the Kenya adventure! (Next blog, to come, soon! … like, today)
Final thoughts on Ethiopia:
PICTURE TIME! Pictures from Addis to the Border. Enjoy! 65 this time. Lots Birgit’s, as always.