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, April 5, 2011

More about Ethiopia

Etioopia, Addis Abeba,
Wims Holland House,
14648 km since the beginning of the journey.

Situations not recorded by video or camera

A little village of Dabat. Situated 74 kilometres north from Gondar. At first it seemed to be an ordinary small village The speed of the car was lowed down for safety reasons. They all – children and grown-ups and monkeys and hens and goats are living on the road. And suddenly an unusual sight – two white grown-ups with rucksacks surrounded with local children , walking the same direction . Reaching them I stop and ask whether everything is still O. K .perhaps they would like a ride?

They were Hungarians. Gabor and Ezster. Gabor has been travelling for seven years already with his rucksack and using local transport. Ethiopia is their 121 country to visit. Impressive.

For the locals the performance is over. No pens or money. A couple of seconds later some stones are thrown towards the car. First of all two solutions come to mind – to drive on or stay and throw back. Still the first oppurtunity is prefered.

Since the rear glass is still in one piece Gabor advises to cover it with some kind of material. It is done in 10 minutes time. Bubble wrap and maccaivari tape almost always help out of trouble.
Our conversation is in English, although the Hungarian language belonged to Finno-hungarian group of languages. At least it didn´t work when we tried to talk in our own languages. And we could talk in Russian, which was useful when prices or services were discussed .

Blue Nile Falls. A dam and an electric power station are built on the falls and so there is only a quarter of it left. But still the picture is magnificent. The place, where the water has previously flowed , is seen beside. The road ends at the gate of the hydroelectric plant, next to it tickets are sold. Everything – edible and inedible is sold on the two sides of the road.

Some words about Ethiopian money. Ethiopian money is birr . 1 euro is 23,5 birr, or 100 birr is 4 Euros.

The ticket costs 15 birr, but afterwards it comes out that it is not allowed to go alone, a local guide is obligatory. So in addition 50 more birr. Fortunately the guide speaks fluent English, so guestions about local life could be asked . Coming to the car it turns out that there is someone writing out a parking receit and wishes to get 5 birr. Not that the price is killing but it is the question of principle already. And I explain to him that I am going to the falls now and I don´t intend to park here. But they intend to get the money and say that that is the ticket for parking by the Fall. O.K, let it be this way then. The road to the Fall allows speed not more than 20 km/hr.

At the Fall a young man appears and announces that he will watch the car while we are way. One can think that what a nice person! But life has proved that at first nobody speaks about money and later on a decent sum is asked. I am showing him the parking receit and point to my guide. Now it is his turn to communicate to the man.

Fortunately I can talk to the guide about local traditions. Coming back to the car I again try to get an explanation why everywhere the white people are asked at least twice the price. And the answer is that white people are rich and then why not. Familiar story and attitude.
Next to my bus is parked a new a local Toyota SUV . It is at least 10 times more expensive than my 24 years old car.

As it is more than +30 degrees I buy two „sprites“, for myself and my guide. Of course the tourist price – 10 birr a bottle. And later my guide invites me to have a cup of coffee at a local cafe of the hydroelectric power will at his expense and at local price. Here a cup of coffee is 2 birr. Elswhere it is usually 3 and in Gondor 10 birr were asked.

Roadside pictures.

It was a car some day, now adapted for living.

Northen Ethiopia. A church located on Debre Damo plateau. The church can be accessed only by ropes. The visit was supposed to be free and only men allowed.
Two repaired ropes are hanging down from the top. One end should be bound round the body for security and the second should be used as climbing-assistance.
Both ends of the second rope are up, one end is firmly fixed and men , holding the other end, are are pushing it up . At once it is clear that here I have not done my homework properly. – without a security rope I could not have reached either up or down. Still 15 metres – nearly the height of a 5-storey house. I should have practised mountain-climbing before. You never know when a skill would be needed.

And then it appears that one has to pay for going down. That`s how the things are. Gabor took the rope and went down. Later it turned out that he was better in climbing. The locals raised their voices seeing that somebody comes down without paying and tried to pull the rope up. Thanks to him here are now some pictures of my decent.
Later – looking at the pictures a thought comes up – is it really the only way up and down, because up there is a cow herd. Were they also pulled up by ropes?
There is nobody to ask any more.

Lalibela. Bet Giyorgis, inside and outside

Old tires can be used to make footwear.

Morning, 4th of April. The plan is to order a taxi and go to town. My plan is to go to Djibouti Embassy to apply for visa and Chris needs a new laptop. Chris is a motorcyclist from Germany, who had an accident a week ago in Ethiopia and now uses crutches. After the accident his laptop was totally broken. We order a familiar taxi- .driver, who speaks English. The taxis are old Ladas or Zigulis. . . The car refuses to go uphill with the first gear. We come out of the car and push. It helps. I will go to the embassy and the taxi-driver will organize a new vehicle.

The procedure in Embassy goes quite fast. Double-sided A4 form, 1 passport photo and tomorrow after dinner the visa should be in the passport. The visa is valid for a month and the first day is today already. Just in case I ask if there are any special requirements, when I am going by my own car. The answer is a clear – no. Nothing is needed. . Well, let`s see at the border.

A new vehicle is waiting outside. The first impression is that it is a copy of the previous one. And that`s correct. We drive to a shopping – centre. There are many stores of computer goods. But no little “netbooks”. And if there are some, then the price is about 100 Euros higher than in Estonia. After discussions the price is a bit lower but not enough. We decide to drive back to the camping and use local acquaintances. The new taxi-driver tries to get “faranji “ price for waiting for an hour and driving 3 kilometres. . But the real price for waiting for an hour is 70 birr, which means 3 Euros.

So soon there is time to move on. Perhaps the net connection is better somewhere and some videos will be uploaded. Let`s see.

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