Weekend Off in Addis Ababa

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March 22nd 2012
Published: April 7th 2012
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We were up before 6 o'clock to get the bus out of Lalibela, but unfortunately this wasn't early enough. We were hoping to get to Addis Ababa in one day and this wasn't a good start. We had to get a Land Cruiser to take us to Gashena, which meant we ended up catching the public bus. We got on this bus, which was to take us to Dessie. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the bus and it struggled to get out of 2nd gear. At Woldia, we had to change to a minibus to take us the rest of the way to Dessie.

This minibus was a lot quicker, but it started to lash down rain and made driving conditions pretty difficult. This didn't deter our driver from overtaking vehicles as we drove on the side of a mountain, going around a bend. I was lucky enough to have a front seat for these manouevers and thought on at least two occasions we were going over the side or into a donkey and cart.

At Woldia, we changed to another bus to Addis Ababa and eventually got into our hotel at about 10.30 p.m., about 16 hours after we had set off in Lalibela. That night we didn't do much and went to bed early enough. The following day we had planned to get to the Somaliland embassy to get visas. This was until we found out, too late, that the embassy closes at 2 o'clock. As it was a Friday, we had to wait until Monday to apply for the visas.

We basically spent the weekend off from travelling and had a couple of nights out, watched some football and generally chilled out. We met Joris from Holland, who we had previously met in the Simiens, who decided to join us on our trip east and on Monday we got our Somaliland visas with very little hassle as well as our bus tickets to Jijiga.

One bit of sightseeing I did do was visit the Red Terror Museum. This is a museum to commemorate the victims who were tortured and killed under Mengitsu's Derg regime in the late 1970's. Thousands went missing or were killed for opposing, or even suspected of opposing the regime. Mengitsu seemed to use Lenin's Red Terror in Russia as a blueprint for eliminating any opposition to his rule. He was sentenced to death in 2006, but is in exile in Zimbabwe, protected by his friend Robert Mugabe.

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