Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ethiopia - Pictures

To get a local Ethiopian sim card for internet two passport photos and a copy of the passport was needed and also 3 hours of patience and peace of mind in addition to that. But thanks to all that there are more photos in this post.

Derbak – next place to stay. The only road up to the Simen mounntains is from here.

One can find the chemist under this label

Miscellaneous Services

Queue - to have water

Goats up in a a tree

This kind of technology in a side street.

In the Simien Mountains

A security guard or Scout came with to the mountains

3908 m. In this height the car stopped. Even while trying the first gear there was not enough power to get higher. Oxygen came to an end.

It seemed that this place will remain the highest having been reached. The view was powerful.

A camping site – Chennek Camp. Just before falling asleep I furtunately remembered that if to change the rear tires into smaller ones it could be possible to drive higher.

But the altitude disease was now really experienced because falling asleep was not succsessful at all. Previous night was spent on the height of 2000 m and this time it was 3500 m.

But the changeing of the tires really helped because the next day the height of 4000 metres was reached without any problem.

Bwahit Pass – the height of 4272 metres.

Personal record

Road reconstruction work

And it it necessary to wait until a new temporary road is pushed through

Bilingualism or threelingualism?

The road made by italians.

Continued – 800 photos waiting to be sorted out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ethiopia 2

The 83 th day
Etioopia, Addis Abeba
14648 km since the beginning of the journey.

Back in the civilization again. In a way.

The last 10 days were spent rather far away from civilization . Having left Gondar it became quite interesting. The Siemen national Park and mountains, big groups of monkeys, rock churches. And the only way up to the church is by ropes (and the only way back to the ground is by paying money). And there were kids shouting : money, money, money, gimme, gimme .... And getting no money they throw stones at the car. Actually this kind of thing was known before but still one likes to experience oneself. And that kind of road construction was going on that it was necessary to wait for an hour until a bulldozer pushed a new path.

This time there are unfortunately no photos added because the uploading didn`t succeed. And there is no sense even to think about uploaded videos. Updating the blog goes via e-mail and the photos and the rest of the impressions will appear as soon as a more decent connection is found.

In Addis Abeba I am staying at Wims Holland House. It was said to be the only camping-like hotel in the centre of the town. But it really was hard work to find it. No matter that the location was in black and white. A small street beside the railway station, but on the road there was a barrier of 2 metres high and locked. Lower cars can pass under it by my car has the roof rack . Which meant that the car is parked by the barrier, the traffic is stopped and it is necessary to find the person who has the key of the gate. And the key- person is 100 metres away.

Actually it was necessary to reach here a few days before the end of the month as my Ethiopian visa needed to be extended.

To extend the visa - I went on foot . It`only 1,5 km . and no need to look for a parking place. And in forum it was said that it would take some time there. So a book into my backbag and also my laptop in any case. The book was „Ethiopia“ by Brandt. It is thicker than Lonely Planet. And the laptp was taken with in case I could buy a Sim card for net. So it is good to test whether it works and how.

The centre of the city is like an ordinary City centre. And traffic is the same as usually in Tallinn. Of course - there are many people , but this kind of persons who approach and try to start concersation are a few this time. Usually the conversation begins this way that at first they follow and keep repeating „Halo, halo, mister, mister..“ and then the usual question „ Where are you going „ etc. etc.

The immigration Service was recognized already from far away by the crowd of people. A large complex of buildings. And by the gate the queue was at least 200 metres long but a closer examination showed that the locals were waiting for a kind of some document. And interestingly there were separate gates for men and women. It became clear at once that it was for security requirements. At the gate the backbag was searched and the questions about camera and laptop were asked. So after a longer conversation the situation was solved this way that my laptop was left at the gate and the info about me – name, the number of passport and telephone number- was registered in a book and I was given a separate „visitor“ card. I underatand the restrictions about camera but why also laptop?

Further on I followed my inner feelings and entered the main door of the biggest building with my passport and the copy of my passport in my hand and then chose the first door which was open and announced that my visa needs to be extended. It turned out that it was another building which should be visited first. So in this another building a form was handed over - a standad A4 page which had reasonable spaces to be filled in. No need to put down Granny`s name and birthplace.

Having filled the page it turned out that not only the passport copy of the page with the personal information was needed but also a copy of the page of previous visa was necessary. Since the copies could be made only outside the institution - out through the security check again. Fortunately in front of the house there were many money changers and all kind of „helpers“ and helped to find the way to a small house and the copy was soon ready. Back to the security- check and this time without standing in the queue.Then – with copies to the right place. Anyway- it took very little time as there were only a few people waiting.

The acceptance of the application was a surprise because all the pages of the passport were slowly checked and a lot of questions were asked - which way I had come from, and why through Turkey, Syria, Jordania, Egipt, Sudan? And why there are no stamps of Poland, Hungary and other EU contries, having come through these countries as well. And is that the same passport?

I explained that it is one EU and driving about there no stamps or anything else is required. And then again Egiptian and Sudanese visas were examined and also requiered whether Estonia was an arabic country. It all meant that everything had to be re-explained again slowly and from the very beginning. That Estonia is not an arabic country, that Estonia belongs to EU and the only possble way to get here by car was via these arabic countries. Then the subject of the conversation was about my car. But being farsighted I had prepared a handful of my car documents beforehand. Starting with the valuation act of the car . There also was the picture of the car on it. That was enough. I pushed the inch thick bundle of papers back into the backbag. And then this kind of a question – Why do you still want to extend your visa? Again from the very beginning – that because of the revolation in Egipt I reached here later than planned etc. That seemed sufficient because some data was entered into computer and I was sent to the next room. The story was short there – had to pay 20 dollars. I had a note repaired by sticker but that was not good enough. It had to be decent money. And Birr and Eoros were not suitable either. After the payment it turned out that itÅ› all for today and next act will take place tomorrow - receiving the passport with visa.

And on the way back through the town this kind of a incident happened. First one child came to one side selling kind of tissues and then another kid to the other side of me and then some more children. Nobody of them of course understood that this kind of stuff was not needed, Now one could think that - how nice , not everyone shouts „money, money, money, gimme, gimme, gimme“ and there are some who are trying to work to make money.

And they pressed to my side so tensely until it seemed that now my wallet will be pulled out of my pocket. Actually I myself always do not succeed to do it for the first time. They had got hold from the tip of it and tried to pull it out but after I had made a loud voice and waved with my hands they quickly ran away.

It was also written in the travel guides that otherwise it is a safe city but a lot of pocket thives . And other imposters as well. Buy me a book. Before that there was a nice long story about studies and then a bit sadness that the textbooks cost so much and perhaps the foreigner would buy them some. A familiar story – it is also written in travel guides. This book will be immediately returned to the shop to get money.

In Axum the children were then asked „why money“ and the answer was that they are hungry and pointed with sad faces on their mouths and stomacs . So instead of money they were handed bread. But that bread was thrown away.

The pictures will come with the next post – when a decent net-connection is found.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ethiopia - Gondar

Day 71
Etioopia – Gondar
12581 km since the beginning of the journey.

Ethiopia or by the full name - The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia .

The border-crossing was a usual one. And there were not many other ways, because Metama is the only border-crossing point between Sudan and Ethiopia according to my information. There are a few more tracks on the map but nobody actually knows anything certain about them. Gallabat is a small border town with houses and sales counters on both side . While slowing down the speed someone will surely run beside the car and make it clear that he is the person who helps the tourists across the border. Usually there is no need for this kind of helpers because the procedure is almost everywhere the same – police, then customs and then border guard. And while entering the country – vice versa. First the border guard stamp into the passport , then the customs and the car clearance. And insurance if necessary. But the runner showed with his hand that the first place to go must be a place „security“ by name. I wonder why ? Anyway - instead of doing it I looked for and found a building with the biggest number of men in uniforms in front of it and marched inside with mu documents and passport in my hand.

The first clearance took half an hour. The officials filled in a kind of forms and wrote down the data into a thick book – as always. IT era has not reached here yet.

And about 100 metres on there was another house , and nearly 50 people waiting at the counter. I managed to hand my passport over the heads to the official and was given back a kind of a form – fortunately it was in two languages - besides Arabic also in English. Having filled it a stamp was added to my passport and „Good-bye Sudan“. The country which is remembered with only the best impressions.

Here between the two states there was no „No- man`s – land“. Just a rope was pulled over the road and the other side was Ethiopia. Similar houses and sales counters on both side of the road.

First of all I was told at the customs that they were having a lunch break and it could take up to a couple of an hours. OK, let it be lunch hour then. And the first document that was asked to present was not my passport but the letter of the car guarantee . I had got it from the German Embassy as there was no Estonian Embassy in Addis Abeda. This clearance was different from the ordinary one l as GPS and computers and cameras were all registered. And then they wished to see them. In addition the car chassis number was checked and it was the first time that they wanted to see the number of the car engine. To that I answered that that`s „impossible „ , raised the seat up and showed that I`ve got the engine and the number of this engine is somewhere down under. And to have a look at that it would be necessary to dismantle the car. Fortunately they were satisfied.

Welcome to Ethiopia.

In Africa Ethiopia has the second place by the population of 85 miljon and and by the area the 10 th place. Which means that the country is overpopulated.

Compared to Sudan – the first thought was – how come that there are so many of them here. And generally all the people and animals move in the middle of the road. The motor - vehicles are met much more seldom than previously.

After crossing the border – mountains again.

And the road was really very decent.

And if something happens to the car then it will be left there were it happaned.

Gondar and Royal Compound

Buying a ticket. The ticket is valid the whole day and has the buyer`s name on it.


An eagle look.

Street cafe – at last after a long time in a country where people know how to make coffee.

In the morning only + 13 C. Compared to Estonia – much warmer but yestarday in Sudan at noon it was + 36 C. And at night it was raining – which means that some roads can be quite muddy.

When to listen to and believe in rumors then it comes out that the road to Axum is
hard to pass because of the construction work of the road. And another story says that there is not any kind of construction going on.
So the only option is to go and find it out.

As to the mobile connection - neither Tele 2 nor AirBalicCard works here. So there is no sense to call or send messangers here. The net connection was said to be poor as well. Of course there are internet cafes but the speed and quality of the connection is another story.

This message is written in a public internet in the centre of Gondar. I was allowed to use my laptop and finally I managed to get into network.