World Champions and the Entoto mountains

Trip Start Aug 31, 2005
Trip End Aug 25, 2006

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Thursday, November 17, 2005

Finally! We got around to meeting Derartu Tulu on her home turf. For those ignorant ones out there, Derartu is QUEEN! She is a Mizuno contracted Ethiopian hero and the first black African woman EVER to win an Olympic Gold medal when she won the 10,000m at the Barcelona Olympics. She followed that up by a 2nd gold in Sydney, World Champion gold in 2001 Edmonton, London Marathon win, and bronze medal in Helsinki this year.

Here in Ethiopia, Derartu is a goddess. In Nazrit we saw a massive billboard of her (the picture I apparantely supplied!) naming the main street "Derartu Tulu Boulevard". She has schools named after her, and EVERYONE we met knew her best times and full profile. For me, it was first meeting the lovely Derartu 4 years ago that inspired me to have an interest in Ethiopia and a dream to meet her here on her home turf. After numerous false starts (she has been travelling the world competing over the last 6 weeks we have been here) we arranged to meet her and manager Elias at the Olympic Stadium.

We rocked up, and there was Derartu smiling and welcoming us to her country. She invited us to dinner that night, and jumped in her car to head home (she had arrived back from New York Marathon the night before and was jet-lagged). As the car pulled away, a group of (Italian?) tourists recognized her. The man had run New York Marathon 3 days before, where Derartu came in 3rd. They swamped her as she graciously shook their hand and took photos together.

We decided to head to Addis Museum to see Lucy - the most complete human ancestor discovered in 1974 (named after "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"). Lucy is 3.2 million years old - very humbling. The museum was EXCELLENT - in particular the section on fossils and evolution, where we saw many of ancient skulls and animal parts.

The museum was followed by afternoon tea and cake at the Sheraton Hotel (how posh are we!)

...before meeting up with Derartu and Elias and heading to the Abyssinnia Cultural Restaurant where we ate and ate and ate and...ate the most wonderful Ethiopian food while watching and listening to the traditional dancers.

The next day we again met up with Elias, Belay (another Mizuno athlete) and Doctor (Ethiopian National Team Coach). Belay insisted on showing us the Entoto mountains where they train, and the Entoto Museum. So we climbed into his (posh jeep!) and headed up to the Entoto's surrounding Addis at an altitude 4000m. It was cold and barren and we couldn't imagine how tough it must be training there 3 hours every morning - Kirsty and I were puffing and huffing after the 2 minute walk back to the car!

We went to the Hilton hotel (got to enjoy our time in a big city!) and spent a couple of hours in the beauty salon before splurging on a buffet dinner - appropriate we thought, for our last night in Ethiopia.

We bought tickets at Air Kenya in the Hilton Hotel to fly to Nairobi for the next day... for our next adventure. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, a few facts on our stay in Ethiopia:
- 6 weeks (to the day!) spent
- US$750 in expenses (+ extra $250 for our flight to Nairobi) spent
- 15 days spent travelling on buses
- 35 nights spent sharing a bed with Kirsty
- 10 fellow travellers met (only - not many backpackers around at all!)
- hundreds of friends made - of which we have the addresses of 18
- 745 photos taken
The journey of a lifetime.
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ermias27 on

Accidentally stumbling on your log, I read your whole trip itinerary in Ethiopia from the beginning to the end! I was amazed by how much you accomplished in 5 weeks. After spending my valuable work (I feel so guilty:)) + after work (naping) time is that: 1. I was not there with you:), and 2. you didn't make it to other good spots such as Arba Minch and Bale. Are you planning any more trip to Ethiopia again anytime soon? If so, please let me in it.... I will bring some knowledge of the country along....
The Ethiopian guy

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