Edit Blog Post
Published: August 6th 2007
On the bus
A typical mix of religion and football!
I then had to return to Addis for purely social reasons - months ago we had arranged to meet up to celebrate Grace and Mary’s birthdays. And what a social whirl it turned out to be: a house-warming party at Teresa’s, Holland House for a reggae band, then Divine night club (all on Friday night after 12 hours on the bus); Shola Market, lunch, Liza’a house for afternoon tea, out for a pizza on Saturday; and swimming and lunch at the Ghion Hotel on Sunday. On Monday I was working - a talk on road safety to the VSO Programme Office Staff and a meeting with the head of the National Road Safety Office to organise my job there in the summer. Then, a lift back to Robe with my VSO Programme Manager on Tuesday.
But back to the journey from Robe!
One of the College guards collected me from home and walked across to the bus station with me. I don’t need an escort, but it was a very kind gesture. The gates of the bus station usually open at 5.30am, when there is a mad rush across the mud to the buses, made more interesting by a
lack of lighting, followed by lots of pushing and shoving to get on the bus (and off again). However, this time turned out to be very different. Unusually, the police were there and keeping people away from the gates while a man stood on some steps making a long speech. My Afaan Oromo is not good enough for that kind of situation, and certainly not at 5.30 in the morning! So, I had no idea what was going on, and the guard who stayed with me (despite my protestations) does not speak English.
The gates opened. People rushed to the buses. Then, the man who had made the speech, with the assistance of the police, made the passengers for Addis line up in ticket number order. As I had been organised the day before, this meant that the Farenji was at the front of the queue! We were then led onto the bus in an orderly manner, to sit in our designated seats. This was not as good as it sounds - as will become clear.
Hassan, from Harrar, turned out to be sitting next to me. He was a larger than life personality with an amazing laugh
Red Hot Pokers
The colourful countryside on the road to Robe.
that became more irritating as the journey progressed. He also had an Ethiopian habit (especially male) of leaning, and taking as much of the seat space as possible. I was dismayed, 30 minutes after leaving Robe, when he informed me that he would buy chat in Addabaa - chat is a legal (in Ethiopia) mildly intoxicating stimulant, with several phases during use - the first being known as ‘euphoric’. Great!
One of the best adverts that I have seen in Ethiopia, is painted on a wall in Debre Zeyit (Bishoftu) for a local beer … “Dashen Beer - without hangover and sugar!”
The second problem with sitting close to the front of the bus came on a notoriously dangerous stretch of road north of Mojo. Our driver decided to overtake a slower vehicle. We were suddenly travelling head-on towards another bus, the driver of which was flashing his lights, and slammed his breaks on. That would have been OK, apart from the truck, which was travelling close behind that bus and swerved so that he didn’t crash into it. This then put the truck firmly in our path. They stopped with about 2 cars lengths to spare. If
we had hit, I would have not been in a good position! There was also a certain irony that I was on my way to Addis to give a road safety talk!
Tot: 0.054s; Tpl: 0.015s; cc: 11; qc: 72; dbt: 0.0131s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb