Kenya to Ethiopia to Sudan

August 8, 2009

A drive back through Kenya en route to Ethiopia (avec police protection from bandits- how cool!!). Random herds of camels signalled that we had entered a very different side of Africa.

Quite a few days were spent in the capital of Addis Ababa, mainly to sort out Egyptian and Sudanese Visas (We had to get dressed up for the latter- backpackers attempting 'smart'- dangerous concept). But when we weren't pissing off Embassy Officials we took full opportunity to explore.

A visit to the chaotic markets also known as Merkato- rumoured to be the largest in Africa so it was lucky that my friend has a better sense of direction than me. Here I deduced that the locals were very easily entertained- muddy feet from an 'incident' with a puddle had literally ALL the locals pointing and laughing ALL day. Not impressed.

Then to the National Museum to 'learn shit'. The star of the show was 'Lucy'- or at least a replica of the skeleton of Lucy. Excavations in Ethiopia have uncovered the oldest human remains found. I learnt lots about homosapians, homoerectus, hominids, homo.....yeah I mainly learn that I can only look at old bones for so long before I really cant give a crap.

We had our first taste of authentic Ethiopian grub and it gets a big thumbs up- spiced mince served on a big piece of pancake style bread which is used to pick up the food. Minimal washing up- Ethiopians know the way to go! The morning after we discovered that breakfast is almost exactly the same. As is lunch....I don't need to sample any more for quite a while.

Next stop Bahir Dar (Kinda seedy place with HIV rates of 1 in 4) and then Lalibela. The place of super old churches carved from the red rock. The priests inside the churches would stand for photos displaying their traditional dress and religious artefacts, but they'd pull out a pair of 80's style sunglasses just to complete the look. The medieval churches were very interesting but the most fun was when 2 people off our truck bought and promptly lost a baby chicken. We were out in the pitch dark, by candlelight, making chirping noises searching for this chick. Id like to alert social services to the fact that Tom and Tara should never ever be allowed to have children, I also decided to try 'Chat'. Its a leaf that you chew and it supposedly gets you a little high. Whatever it does to you its not worth it- it tastes like 'Stop and Grow'!

The thing with Ethiopia is, there’s only power is every other day....but there are power cuts. Water is sometimes on every other day. If this coincides with a power day then that’s a frickin’ miracle! I’ve had too many cold bucket showers for one lifetime. Not to mention that their time system is different- the year is 2001 and 6am is actually 12am. This place requires sobriety.

Then off to Gondar, although not the one in the Lord of the Rings. First impression not so great with our hotel doubling up as a brothel but it quickly redeemed itself when we visited the Dashen Brewery to extensively sample the local beer.

One of our group was unfortunately assaulted by a member of the staff, but apparently Ethiopia deals in swift justice. The very next day he was trialled and sentenced. England take note!

Visited the old castles of the Royal Enclosure (where I was repeatedly reminded that they were bombed by the British. There’s only so many times you can apologise!) And the Fasiladas' baths that had no water so we pretended to perfect our front crawl and ‘swim’ our way around. We are becoming increasingly crazier on this trip.

The problem with leaving Ethiopia to enter Sudan (a 'dry' country in both sense of the word) is: what to do with all that leftover alcohol?!?! A drunken bush camp is the answer and there’s nothing like a Zappa hangover to help you NOT miss alcohol for a few weeks.

Khartoum= hooooottttt. The English of the group were practically melting. And the most ridiculous thing- women have to cover up (I'll save the feminist ranting for later, but trust me, there was plenty).

Visited the 'Souq' (market). People are incredibly friendly. Market sellers would invite us to sit down and join them for tea or simply shout 'welcome' with no attempt to sell us stuff. Taxi drivers babble away in Arabic, my understanding isn’t an issue. But I had fun deciphering words that sounded vaguely familiar and responding in what would be equally confusing for him. I love it, Sudan is probably the first place I’ve ever been to that considers its own language supreme. They were frustrated that we couldn't speak their language and thought that saying it slower and louder would help me understand. Something that western tourists never do

Roll on 4 days in the Nubian Desert....

Que excessive breakdowns (one every day), including getting stuck on a railway line and leaning precariously into a lake. Pelly-Fry and I sprinted down the tracks like the bloody Railway Children in an attempt to ward of any oncoming trains then got stuck in the blistering heat for hours with just a bottle of water between us. Needless to say, I felt dodgy and Pelly got full on heatstroke. I guess we should have seen the signs when we held a funeral service for my broken watch....

Ultimate ultimate highlight was bush camping under the stars. Too damn hot for tents so we'd all congregate on a tarpaulin, count shooting stars, look for boob shapes in the constellations before falling asleep waking just in time for sunrise.

But we survived! Made it to the halfway town of Wadi Halfa to catch the ferry into Egypt. All you could really do here was lie and sweat. At night time all the beds were dragged into the open air in hope of not waking up like a shrivelled prune.

One boat ride later, hello Egypt!

Fuzzy Travel · Next »
Create blog · Login