Election mayhem

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
Trip End Aug 18, 2005

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Thursday, June 9, 2005

Day the Second - in which we turn our backs on the backpacker stereotype, and find ourselves hungry in the middle of something ugly.


Now we know why the streets were empty last night.
Nothing is open. Nothing is running. The taxis are on strike. We are hungry! Woe is us...

Seriously, it is weird here. The election results aren't officially announced til next month, but everyone is upset about it. Apparently everyone has voted for the opposition, yet the current president is expected to win again. There have been demonstrations and the army/police have taken drastic action. Which obviously only pissed the locals off more. Yesterday was bad, apparently, so all the locals are keeping a low profile. The Mercato market we wanted to go to is not open since there were some buses burnt yesterday. Some students were shot and there are various figures of fatalities rumoured.


So we are getting out of here tomorrow. A guy called Antoneh (Anthony) has offered to take us north. We are a bit reluctant, since we usually travel independently, but we really don't know what's going to happen. Also, we need to get to the bus station (Autobus Terra) for 5am in the morning and we can't really get a taxi by ourselves as none are running.
We'll see.

We are excited to be here though! Our adventure has begun.

After a hunt, we found an open cafe, and had a pastry and buna (very strong coffee) and mango juice. Stef the coffee, me the mango. I think one sip of that coffee would likely kill me dead...
We talked with Antoneh about Ethiopia, and then came to an agreement about the trip plan. He will accompany us on our northern circuit, using public transport. He wanted us to go by 4WD (obviously - more comfortable and more money for him) but we really can't afford it.
He gave us a choice: 1) we pay him a certain amount per day and he would cover all his costs (food, accommodation, and transport). Or 2) we pay him slightly less per day, pay his daily transport costs, and he would cover his food and accommodation. We didn't really mind either way, but decided it would be easier just to give him the larger amount and let him deal with all his costs. That decided, we went back to our room and arranged to meet him later.

There are loads of soldiers around, so we haven't taken many pictures. Just this one of the street:

With Antoneh we walked to the Autobus Terra to buy tickets for tomorrow morning. It's a long way to walk with our bags. Hopefully he can arrange a taxi to take us across town.
There's hardly any traffic on the road - anybody who is out is walking, and the Mercato market is empty. It's odd.

Getting used to hearing my name all the time, since Ishee means ok and is used as an all purpose phrase.

With that sorted, we packed and went for a nice meal at the Wutuma. On the way in, a guy intercepted us and asked if we did kickboxing. Bemused, we said no. Then he went on about plants and, realising we didn't really understand him, revealed his intentions.
"You know Bob Marley?"
"Er, yes..."
"He left something behind in Ethiopia..."
We pause and then the penny belatedly drops.
"No, get lost!"

It might be worth mentioning here that the link between Rastafarianism and Ethiopia is largely one-way. Weed is illegal.

I didn't sleep well again - maybe it was due to the rock hard pillow, or maybe it was the two rattle-bursts of gunfire in the dark. I'm glad we are leaving this city.
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