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

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.

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