Goba and Back in a Day

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Africa » Ethiopia
November 5th 2006
Published: December 9th 2006
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Frontier town?
It cannot be said that my first visit to Goba, a town 14km south of Robe, was a roaring success! I had decided that this weekend I would go away, somewhere. I considered Dinsho, but nobody I spoke to was sure about how to get a bus there, and most said that it was even harder to get back. I was also told, that there is Internet access in Goba - the more I thought about it, the more I became obsessed about going there to spend many hours sending emails. I wrote emails in advance, saved onto a memory stick, and off I went.

The bus journey was cheap (2 birr) and blessedly short - there is no tarmac on the road from Robe to Goba either. Goba looks like a set for a gold-mining film, or a frontier town. The shops were set back from the road, which was a pleasant, muddy, avenue with a central reservation of trees. Horses and carts seemed more noticeable, but not necessarily more prevalent, than in Robe. There was even a road side horse garage (blacksmiths?).

I booked into the Yilma Hotel, opposite the bus station. The garden was very pleasant
In the officeIn the officeIn the office

Me working is a novelty for the students at Robe College - I sometimes have to close my office door when too many people stand and watch me.
and the room I was given (the only one they had) faced onto it. The room was bare, very basic and not that clean - especially for the 30birr I was charged. When I asked about food, I was told there was none. I went to try a place recommended in the guidebook for food … there was none. I tried to find somewhere to email from…there was no connection in Goba. I tried to find somewhere else to eat, but couldn’t - either the places I looked at didn’t seem to do food, or I didn’t feel comfortable going in. In the end, I walked 1.5km (a very pleasant walk, that felt like I was walking along a farm track rather than a main road) to the Wabe Shebele Hotel - a very expensive place, where the cheapest rooms are 170 birr - as I figured that at least I could get food there, and although it would be expensive, I wasn’t going to be spending money on the Internet. They have a set menu - meat based, but they did me spaghetti in tomato sauce, which was lovely.

On the walk back I was trying to decide
A quiet walkA quiet walkA quiet walk

Impossible! I was accompanied by this group of children.
whether to stay the night after all, or whether to head back to Robe and sleep in a clean bed. I thought that I could sit and read in the very pleasant garden at the Yilma, and drink beer (although I am not sure that I would want to drink too much and risk having to go to the toilet too often - the sort where it is best to roll your trousers up before entering!).

As I was walking back, a very strange man started following me - it got to be a bit scary. Then a couple of shoe shine boys shouted hello to me, so I went across, sat down and explained that I was bothered by the man following me. They were great. Let me sit there until he had gone. I couldn’t even let them clean my shoes by repayment, as I was wearing Josh’s old trainers. That was it - I decided to go home. On a positive note, I did buy a beautiful pink shawl for Molly’s birthday - I hope she likes it.

It did feel good coming back to Robe after my Goba experience. Not many people spoke to
On my cycle rideOn my cycle rideOn my cycle ride

The scenery is much greener than I expected before coming to Ethiopia.
me in Goba; I got the impression that people were more used to Ferenji, but that made it feel friendlier once I was back here. I went out to search for porridge oats (but failed) but it was so nice bumping into people that I know, and who know me. I was sold what I was assured is “powder for porridge” which looks remarkably like flour. It looked, and tasted, like flour and water paste! The lumps didn’t help.

It has not rained for the last 4 days - perhaps the rainy season is over at last. Although the road is now very dusty, the temperature is great - like a hot summer day in Britain, but with a cool undertone, and the sun shines all day. I am getting post, which reduces my sense of isolation, and the Guardian Weekly. Mum and Dad sent me a dressing gown, which I live in when I am at home as it is still quite cold in the evenings, and Auntie Mo sent warm socks and gloves. On Friday I got another two parcels from Mum and Dad, with slippers, a jumper, a jacket, veggie mince, Pringles, Polos and so much
Another view near RobeAnother view near RobeAnother view near Robe

Robe is on a huge plateau at about 1200m above sea level, but you can see mountains in the distance.
chocolate!! I can’t believe how much they sent - and how much the postage cost!

I started running the Higher Diploma Programme this week too. After 3 weeks of creating jobs to do, it is good to finally have some legitimate work. Out of 16 Candidates, only 8 people turned up on Tuesday, and 10 on Thursday. They also have a habit of being late, so I am bribing them with chocolate (or using a reward system). They are a nice bunch of people though and I think I will enjoy working with them.

Last Sunday I went for a quiet walk on the road towards Goba - and ended up being accompanied by up to 15 children. When I asked where they were going, one boy, who spoke good English, said “With you!” Although it was fun, it was not the walk I wanted. So, I decided to try cycling instead. The cycle ride was lovely. I could stop when I wanted, and didn’t get hassled by anyone. Some of the views of the countryside around Robe are stunning, although the roads mean that it is uncomfortable to go too far. It’s a bit like off-road mountain biking on a road!


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