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Published: November 28th 2007
To smooth over our social indiscretion of the previous night we popped some local currency into the donation box at the monastery gate as we drove out. We had enjoyed our short stay and I had been tempted to flog the water with my rod and line just to see if those really had been trout rising in the lake. But I did not want to risk further offence since I might have needed a license, so my rod stayed put in the car.
We had been told that the road to Adis from now on would be good tarmac. We were confident, therefore, that the 250 or so miles to Adis would be no problem today. At first we continued with the dreaded Chinese workmen and their culverts to Dessie
, then Kembolcha
, covering 40 miles in 2.30 hours - an average speed of 16 mph!! What fun! Concentration on driving, pretty well precluded any appreciation of the countryside as we passed.
The dust was quite atrocious! Then, suddenly, TARMAC!! With a large sign at the side of the road to tell us that this road had been funded by The European Union. This really made us feel good
for we had, at least, beaten the Chinese to this particular section of the Ethiopian road network! We drove on blissfully at a leisurely pace, for 90 miles, without a rattle anywhere in the car, and all 3 drivers were able to look at the wonderful views around us.
The only thing to slow us down were the continual herds of cattle, sheep and goats, often accompanied by donkeys and horses - and even camels - which littered both sides of the road, and often the centre as well. These herds of animals have persisted wherever we have driven in Ethiopia and we have never fathomed why the herds are there or where they are going. I believe, actually, that they are herded on to the road just to amuse the herdsmen, who want to watch the traffic passing by for something to do. They make absolutely no effort whatsoever to move the animals off the road at approaching traffic, confident that the drivers will avoid the animals without their help at all. I am surprised there are no dead animals littering the roadside but, speaking personally, there must be several other very frustrated drivers on the roads.
Turning south westwards towards Adis the road climbed up the side of the Great Rift to well over 10,000 ft again. Very near the summit we passed through a short tunnel where, as we came out, we were back to bad roads again.. This time no Chinese (or EU), but just bad tarmac which had potholes everywhere - and there is nothing quite as bad as bad tarmac - and this road had it in spades.
We bumped along this road, at a maximum top speed of 40 mph on the “good” sections, with our expectations of reaching Adis by dusk slipping away. And we were driving straight into the setting sun, too, which made it even more difficult. But we at last came upon the outskirt of the city, these outskirts of shanty-like dwellings continued almost to the centre of the city where, due to the skilful navigation of Chris and Ian in the lead, we found the hotel we were aiming for. It turned out to be a No-Star-Minus instead of the Three Star it claimed to be, but we were so tired that we just accepted it, took 3 rooms, ate in the dining room and
collapsed into bed.
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