Addis Ababa – 9 573 km to go!

(English + photographs below)

Sondag 4 Julie: Bahir Dar – Debre Markos (Ethiopië)

Die kort kuier in Bahir Dar was heerlik. As ek my persoonlike keuse moes gee as vir ‘n vakansieplek in Ethiopië, sou dit dié dorp aan die Tanameer wees.

Ek het hier ‘n baie interessante mens ontmoet, ‘n Spaanse dame wat alleen per openbare vervoer deur Ethiopië reis. Haar passie is die vroue van Ethiopië, en sy gebruik fotografie om die vroue van die land in Spanje ‘n gesig te gee. Teresa Ravina gaan moontlik twee of drie foto’s skenk wat ons met die fondsinsamelingsete in September vir Operation Smile kan opveil. En wie weet, miskien verras sy ons nog en woon die ete ook by.

Die ry na Debre Markos toe was ‘n fees vir die oog: Groen velde so ver as wat mens kan kyk, bloedrooi riviere in vloed, en dan die indrukwekkende berge wat altyd sigbaar op die horison was.

Ek het in Debre Markos ‘n groep Hollandse toeriste ontmoet en dadelik weer besef wat die grootste nadeel van reis in ‘n groep is. ‘n Mens sien die land, maar die een tot een kontak met die mense van die land bestaan feitlik nie. Die groepie het net met mekaar gekommunikeer en die plaaslike mense grootoog aangekyk.

Ek het vir die derde jaar in ‘n ry geen waswater in Debre Markos gehad nie. Welkom in Ethiopië.

Maandag 5 Julie: Debre Markos – Addis Ababa (Ethiopië)

Dit was ‘n dag met skouspelagtige natuurtonele en ‘n dag waarop die KLR hard moes werk. En dit was die dag waarop my wittebrood met die Ethiopiërs verby was… Ek moet gou eers die agtergrond gee.

Na my 2008 reis was Ethiopië heel onder op my lys van die agtien lande waardeur ek gereis het. Die land het soveel te bied wat natuurskoon en kultuur betref, maar ek het ‘n mentaliteit op straat in die stede en op die platteland geleer ken wat my laat kook het. Dit was ‘n arrogante ek-neem-van-jou-wat-ek-wil-hê. Overlanders wat nie wou gee nie, is onder die klippe gesteek. Na my 2009 reis was die land weer onder aan die lys. Ek kon steeds nie vrede maak met mense wat sommer motordeure sal oopmaak om te kyk wat in die motor is, of sommer hul hande in jou broeksakke sal steek om te kyk wat hul kan kry nie. Hulle het nie skelm probeer steel nie, hulle het dit openlik gedoen.

Toe kom die 2010 reis. Vyf dae het dit baie goed gegaan. In Debre Markos het die irritasie begin, en dit het niks met die gebrek aan water te doen nie. Gister in Addis het dit begin oorloop. Ek haat dit eenvoudig as iemand glo omdat jy ‘n (wit) toeris is, hulle jou met ‘n arrogante eiegeregtigheid kan probeer uitbuit. In Egipte doen hulle dit ook maar met ‘n heel ander instelling. Daar kan mens na die tyd lag. Hier nie.

(Een dag later: Ter wille van die baie Ethiopiërs wat nié toeriste uitbuit nie, lees my irritasie maar samehangend met ‘n lang reis wat uitputtend is)

Terug na die lekker deel, die ry. Die roete het die Blou Nyl canyon gekruis. Wat ‘n gesig! Die pad het uit die Hooglande tot diep in die aarde afgesak en toe weer vir ‘n ewigheid op en op om dosyne van kronkeldraaie gegaan. Dit het voor die canyon gelyk of mens aan die wolkdak kan raak met wolke wat laag oor die pad geskuur het. Onder by die Blou Nyl was dit so warm dat die sweet geloop. In 2008 was die pad nog ongeteer en het ‘n mens ‘n grondpad met baie klippe af tot onder in die canyon gery en gly en aan die ander kant weer op. Ek het gister die afry tot onder by die Blou Nyl met die klein videokameratjie afgeneem. Ek is baie nuuskierig om te sien hoe dit gaan lyk.

Ek is nou in Addis vir ‘n dag of twee. Prioriteit is nou om die KLR goed deur te kyk en gereed te maak vir Noord-Kenia. Die fiets het deur al die woestyne en ook gister weer werklik hard gewerk. Ek kan nie ophou om die deugde van die KLR as langafstand toerfiets te besing nie. Sy rygerief, brandstofverbruik en betroubaarheid maak dit die ideale fiets as ‘n mens oor Afrika wil ry.

Vanaand gaan ek die Holland – Uruguay wedstryd kyk, en as Holland wen, gaan ek miskien nog ‘n dag in Addis bly om die Duitsland wedstryd te kyk. As die finaal tussen Duitsland en Holland gaan wees, sal ek my ry deur Noord-Kenia met ‘n paar dae moet uitstel. Dis ‘n wedstryd wat ek vir geen geld ter wêreld wil mis nie.

Mag julle almal ‘n wonderlike dag hê!

PS Ek het feitlik geen selfoonopvangs hier in Addis nie. Dis vreemd. Nou en dan kom wel ‘n sms deur, maar voor ek kan antwoord, is die netwerk weer weg.

PS 2 Ek sien nou op die internet dat Khartoem op die oomblik ‘n sandstorm beleef.

Why did I sleep so well? Because we had a guard with an automatic rifle!

Teresa with the passion for the women of Africa whose voices are not heard.

The farmers were on their way to plough their fields with hand-made ploughs.

A farmer busy ploughing his field.

It is so green riding through Ethiopia during the rainy season.

Looking down to the Blue Nile I missed Sudan, and was left speechless by the beauty of the canyon.

High above the Blue Nile Canyon.

English

Sunday 4 July: Bahir Dar – Debre Markos

The short stay in Bahir Dar was pleasant. This town on the shore of Lake Tana would have been my personal choice for a holiday in Ethiopia.

I met a very interesting traveller here, a lady with the name of Teresa Ravina. Teresa is from Spain and is travelling alone through Ethiopia by using only public transport. Her passion is the women of Ethiopia. She uses her photographic skills to give the Ethiopian women a face in her home country, Spain. There is a chance that we will have perhaps two or three of her Ethiopian photographs to auction during our fundraising dinner in September. And perhaps she surprises us by attending the evening!

The ride to Debre Markos was a wonderful Sunday ride. Green plains intersected by streams with red muddy water stretched out as far as the eye could see. On the horizon the impressive range of Ethiopian mountains formed a prefect background.

I met a group of Dutch tourists in Debre Markos and realised immediately why I prefer to travel alone. That group travelled through Ethiopia but their social interaction was mainly in the group. While having a beer or soft drink they eyed the locals and the locals eyed them.

For a third successive year I didn’t have water to wash. Welcome to Debre Markos, Ethiopia.

Monday 5 July: Debre Markos – Addis Ababa

The day consisted of the most stunning nature, especially at the Blue Nile canyon, and hard riding on the KLR. And it was the day that my honeymoon with the Ethiopians ended. Let me give you the background.

After my 2008 ride Ethiopia was last on the list of 18 countries I had travelled through. The country has so much to offer, beautiful nature, a wonderful cultural heritage, but that was not enough to neutralize the irritating mentality I got to know on the streets of the cities and villages on the countryside. It was an irritating I-take-what-I-want attitude. The vehicles of overlanders that were not prepared to give were stoned.

After my 2009 trip the country remained bottom on my list. I still could not make peace with the attitude of people just opening the doors of a car to see what was inside, or putting their hands in your pockets to see what they could take. No pick pocketing, no, they did that in all openness.

And then the 2010 trip started. I promised myself that I would give the Ethiopians another chance. It went well for five days. In Debre Markos the irritation started, and it had nothing to do with the unavailability of water. Yesterday in Addis my irritation reached boiling point. I just hate it that people believe they can cheat one wherever the opportunity presents itself, and only because one is a (white) tourist. In Egypt they do the same, but the mentality there lacks the arrogance found here. Afterwards one could have a laugh with the vendor. Not here.

(One day later: To be fair towards those people in Ethiopia who do not see tourists as milk cows read my irritation in relation to a long and taxing journey)

Back to the riding. The route crossed the Blue Nile Canyon. What a sight! I was riding in mist, touching the clouds, and then the earth just opened and the road started circling down to the Blue Nile. With the KLR it was a dream, leaning into the curves and gliding down effortlessly. Down in the valley it was as hot as Sudan. Then the road started climbing again, the one curve after the other followed, and it went higher and higher. With the 2008 ride this road was still a gravel road with a lot of loose stones.

I filmed the ride down with the canyon with the small video camera. I look forward to see it on a TV.

I am in Addis now for a day or two. My main priority now is to check and clean the KLR and get it ready for the stone deserts of Northern Kenya. The bike worked hard until here, without missing a beat. I cannot stop writing about the KLR as long distance touring bike. Its riding comfort, fuel efficiency and its reliability makes it the ideal bike for crossing Africa.

If Holland beats Uruguay tonight I will probably stay another night in Addis to watch the Germany game as well. If the final is going to be between Holland and Germany then I will have to re-consider my plans for Northern Kenya. I don’t want to miss that match.

Have a great and wonderful day!

PS Friends that send sms messages to me, for some strange reason I don’t have a network here. Now and then a sms will arrive, and before I can reply the network is gone again.

PS 2 I see on the internet that Khartoum is having a sand storm at the moment.

About Lodie

Africa, Africa, Africa!
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