Into the South

Welcome to the South, my cyber-travelling friends!
We are now two days outside of Addis, staying in Goba tonight. Goba is only about 400-500km from Addis. In two days. Oh sigh. Less traffic would help, as well as to a lesser extent less livestock and peoplestock on the roads. But mostly, we could really use some pavement right about now. Haha. Actually, we are lucky in a way, as the Chinese are hard at work building a new, will-be-paved highway, that when completed will mean that you could leave Addis in the morning and have an early supper in Goba. But for now the construction makes from a mix of slightly better and slightly worse road conditions that used to be found on this stretch.
Yesterday we packed up the the trucks at about eight in the morning and went to have a meeting with the staff of PCAE (Pastoral Concern Association of Ethiopia, our main ground force for projects in the country) to talk about our plans for the South. Then to the Hilton for the local Rotary meeting where we had a good lunch and talked about our involvement, and presented Tehout, our local Rotary contact, with her Paul Harris Fellow certificate and medallion, which pleased her to no end. After that is was straight on the road South, fighting the maddening Addis traffic. There were three Land Cruisers in the caravan, the eight of us, the three drivers, Abdi and another PCAE staffer.The Rift Valley was rife with dust, something we haven’t seen in our other trips here, and is most likely indicative of the severe drought in the areas we are headed to.
We stopped last night in Awassa, our end-of-pavement for the trip. While we ate dinner we enjoyed three power failures and a rainstorm. We also picked up another PCAE staffer and Ogust, the Haro Dibe chief at this point. Which means all three of our trucks are now at capacity with five passengers. Ogust is an interesting fellow as he is one of the youngest chiefs here. I am not sure exactly, but Chris and I peg him at about 30. Traditionally, Oromo chiefs are between fourty and fourty-eight, and become Elders after that age. For someone this young to have enough wisdom for a position like this says quite alot about Ogust.
Awasse is located on a lake, and the hotel we stayed at is a lakefront property. Awasse also has one of the highest bird counts in the world. There is no shortage of birdcalls at any time of day. Some of us woke early to walk along the lake and see the birds that stop there. I awoke to a monkey sitting on my unit’s roof eating all the pretty flowers. Then we said goodbye to the comfortable pavement and headed East into the wild blue.
There is nothing in the world that facilitates intellectual debates, political fist-fights, indecency, and general insanity like a long, slow car ride. Let me tell you, it’s a good things these Land Cruisers are tough, because they have to contain the maelstrom of our gravel-road-fever.
Actually, I myself have not had the world altering experience of riding in the Bruce, Jim, Mary Ann, and Delayne truck. But the stories that come out of it everytime we stop for a break make me prepare for the sensory onslaught it is sure to be when I inevitably do.
Darren is very nice, the mystery traveller no more. Him, Delayne(for the stint that she spent in our vehicle today), and I had very good talks about politics, religion and agriculture during our time together.
We spend tonight in Goba, and tomorrow finish the last four hours or so to Haro Dibe, our first stop. Goba is in the highlands, and Haro Dibe is in the lowlands, so tomorrow we drop off the face of the world when we reach the meeting of the two as the differentiation is physically clear. Adbi’s favorite spot, possibly in the whole country, is at the top of the escarpment, an elevation change somewhere in the range of 5000 feet. We may also see more baboons there.
Unfortunately, one of our Land Cruisers has had its airconditioning quit, and may be developing serious suspension problems, which most likely will mean that on our return from Haro Dibe, it will be switched out for a new truck and driver (the drivers are tied to their vehicles to promote good maintenance and responsible driving) that will be sent down from Addis.
On the SeaCan side, things are not looking so awesome at the moment with the estimated delivery date sliding back to the twenty-ninth, which is the day we are slated to leave the South. But we have not given up and there are a lot of people very hard to make something happen a bit faster.
At dinner Dean and I amazed and disgusted Abdi with the physical attributes of Coca Cola (corrosive properties, sugar and caffeine content) and made him wonder why anyone in North America would want two litres of the stuff, or drink Super-Giant-Big-Gulps with a meal, as the largest format you find it in here is 300mL. Also the information that Coke costs significantly less than milk in North America left him shaking his head abit about the intelligence of what us North Americans put in our mouths.
I can hear the Delayne, Mary Ann, Dean, and Bruce crew getting rowdy at a card game through the wall, so I better go hammer on the wall before we get evicted.
Until next time, when I will have much more interesting stories than two days of slow driving yields,
Mike

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2 Responses to “Into the South”

  1. Amanda Says:

    Always a pleasure hearing from you,

    Thanks for the stories – they are loved by all.

  2. Jack & Jane Verburg Says:

    Hi Happy travellers..feel like we are on the road with you…totally relate to your adventures…
    We also found the the areas to be very dry…dust to dust.
    Bottled water & dabu(bread) was our best friend.
    Sorting through our 1000’s of pictures..could have taken more.
    Stay safe & keep in touch, Jack & Jane

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