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Published: November 28th 2007
We arose early to try and avoid being gawped at as we got out of bed, and we just managed it. The old man was back, somewhat relieved we felt that we were all in one piece, and of course news had spread that we were there and he had brought his friends - and grandchildren. We politely greeted them all and then ignored them as we ate breakfast as the sun arose across the lake. What a lovely sight.
Our audience got bored and pushed off before we departed at about 8 am, our daily target time for departure. South to Shashemane where Jeremy was able to stock up his beer supplies. Here we left the tarmac road and headed eastwards and upwards towards the Bale Mts. But the dreaded Chinese had got here before us and the road was dreadful, just like our previous China Road, and our progress was slowed to 20 mph or so.
We climbed steadily till we came to a prairie-like landscape which had acres upon acres of growing wheat, nearly ready for harvesting, as far as the eye could see. This area must surely be one of Ethiopia’s breadbaskets. The views were
very impressive but of course we still had people everywhere - just people walking this way and another lot walking the other, and if we stopped for a moment we were surrounded!
Ian, poor man, had his third puncture on this road and again the tyre was a write-off. So he was down to no spares, with one of the wheels the one we had repaired in Lalibela. Rather uncomfortable, but we still had two spare wheels on our car which he could use should he need. We stopped for lunch to check tyre pressures again, and put them up, and were immediately surrounded by kids to extent that they became a real nuisance.
We have come to realise that wherever tourists go, the kids expect hand-outs. Continual cries of “Gimme” coupled with “Money” or “pen” or even the shirt that you are wearing. A sign, perhaps, of the handout culture in which they are now being brought up. When we left, without giving them anything at all, they really got abusive, using the foulest of language (English words) which they could only have learnt from tourists. Very distressing.
Anyway, the countryside was beautiful and we climbed
up great slopes, with woodland and open glades reminiscent of Alpine scenery. There were great road works here with bulldozers and graders scurrying up and down. We had to wait about half an hour on one occasion before we could progress while they cleared the road of boulders. We were now well over 10,000 ft and passing along the open moorland towards the National Park HQ at Dinsho where camping was available. We had to pay for 48 hours in the park as well as a camping fee before we were shown the campsite high in the park with stunning views.
Here we did manage to choose our own site but, by Jove, it was cold! We all had lots of garments on and even paid the scout escort to bring us a load of firewood - about 30 pence worth for an evening’s supply! We had our meal around the fire till the rain started so, like in the Simeon Mts, we scuttled for bed - all, that is, except Gail and Jeremy who sat it out by the fire under a huge golfing umbrella till all the wood had burnt out! Real toughies!!
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