Addis Ababa - the Return
Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
165Trip End Ongoing
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Interestingly, I made many friends on the way back. She, however, left in disgust on the second day, waving down another bus after our bus broke down yet again. The Ethiopians on the bus were united in their opinion that she was crazy, but good entertainment.
(Also as a historical aside - and please excuse the apparent crassness of this - but, for the most part, Europeans were mostly involved in the slave trade in Western Africa. This is not to say it did not happen or ever justify any slavery anywhere, and certainly, later on, more people such as the Brazilians and the French would become involved, but the majority of slaves taken from East Africa, historically, were taken by Arab traders and Sultanates and ended up throughout the Middle East and Asia. Africans in East Africa would certainly suffer under European rule and colonialism, but this is different from the slave trade. Not any better necessarily, just different. Sorry, I'm a history teacher, and she was talking bad history. True emotions, but bad history. Talking with Ethiopians, they attributed their distinct looks and culture to the mixing that took place between Black African people, Arab traders and Nubian influences from places like the Sudan and Egypt. There is very little resentment towards white people, at least that I experienced. Ethiopia is also only one of two African countries that was never colonized by a European power. It was briefly occupied by the Italians during World War 2, but only for a relatively shirt period of time.)
Being given the seat at the front of the bus is considered somewhat of an honour - more leg room, better views, and access to an open window. The nickname for this seat, however, is the "Death Seat." For all of the reasons mentioned before in another post, head-on collisions are very common. The front seat guarantees you an extremely up-close and personal view of the action. I read earlier this month, "There are no old African bus drivers."
To make matters worse, the return bus was old and dilapidated, making the first bus seem luxurious by comparison. A small blessing was that there was no sound system so I was spared the ear splitting levels of Ethiopian pop suffered on the first voyage. This thing rattled and shook its way slowly back towards Addis Ababa. By the second day it began to break down - a lot. A few times there were spectacular explosions of steam and water as the radiator blew after just making it to a village where locals would run back and forth with buckets of water, refilling the radiator and throwing it on the sides of the bus in an attempt to cool down the entire thing. When the engine would begin to heat up again, wafts of burnt smelling steam would creep out from under the dash, and swirl around my feet. All of this contributed to a much slower finish to an already long voyage. Eventually, we reached Addis and I checked into my new hotel, the Baro.