Addis - back to normal

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

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Friday, June 17, 2005

This entry is mainly an account of the journey back to Addis. Click the following link to read about the Mercato and other things we did in Addis.


Day the Tenth - in which I commit a Bus-sleeping faux-pas, we are tempted to smoke oregano, and we eat the Lasagne of The Gods.


Up at 4.30am for the walk to the bus station. The gates were not open yet so we had to stand in a crowd with the other passengers, while hawkers sang their wares. We particularly like the boys selling little packets of tissues: they call out 'Soft!', drawing it out to a "Saawwft...sawft!" We're not so keen on the random "You! You!" though - that gets irritating very quickly. Unfortunately we get that everywhere we go - be it walking down the street or round a market. Children call it too, along with the omnipresent "One birr?"
After a while, the man at the gate spotted us and let us through. This was merciful - we were able to get on and find a seat without the usual scrum. And it's not as if we want their precious front seat anyway. We selected two in the middle of the bus and sat down just in time to hear a growing rumble. It revealed itself as a stampede of passengers, bearing down on the bus, running at full pelt.
Stef went outside to deal with the bags - fortunately he is strong since the bag dude dropped his bag off the roof while heaving it up. Stef caught it and nothing got broken.
I got off to get bread, leaving Stef with the seats. The tissue boys called to me and I sang "Sawwft!" back at them, making them grin. Bread in hand, I returned triumphant, having only received four 'You's.

We then settled in to wait for the bus to leave. We watched as the other buses were loaded up. Some goats were hauled up over a man's shoulders onto the roof of the neighbouring bus. They were tied to the roof rack - poor buggers.
Our bus left after pretty much all the others had gone. It was still early enough to see the sun rise over the landscape.

The journey dragged on a bit - we both kept falling asleep for short power naps. Then I fell forward and whacked my head on the bar in front with a resounding ding. Needless to say, I woke up and didn't sleep again.

It seemed we were progressively overtaking all the buses that had left before us - 2 hours in we passed the one with the goats on the roof. They were all clinging on for dear life.

Something we had been warned about before coming to Ethiopia was stone-throwing. We've not had any problems - the only things Ethiopians seem to throw stones at are cows, goats and donkeys. And occasionally you'll see an adult throw a stone at a child. We've noticed that very small babies are loved and adored by all, but as soon as they become children they are right at the bottom of the pile. They are yelled at, made to give up their paid seats to sit on the floor of the buses, and then people throw stones at them!
Anyway, today was my first sighting - a man sat by the roadside chucked a stone at the bus. It was a pathetic throw though and didn't reach us.

We stopped for lunch - the usual routine. As we sat we had to avoid the eyes of two small children sitting a distance away. If they thought we were looking they would gesture to their mouths. It's heartbreaking, but if we'd given them anything every child (and adult too probably) in a 50 meter radius would have been around our table. After a while they went back to their mother/big sister at a nearby stall. Then she sent them out to drift though the crowd and look for easy pickings. We kept our eyes on our bags.

Getting back to the bus involved running the gamut of 'spice' sellers that were particular to the town. They were hawking bags of green plant material, thrusting them in our faces. The 'spice' turned out to be oregano.
We did buy a small bag of roasted grains though - they are like unpopped corn and we found they are good to chew on to stave off boredom.
We switched to our usual formation for negotiating any crowd: Stef in front with the small rucksack, and me behind watching the bag.

The second leg to Addis was uneventful. We passed more mountain scenery (I fear we are becoming jaded) and a pathetic trickle of a river where people had gathered to wash.

On the outskirts we went through what was obviously the meat section, passing hut after hut full of hanging red meat. The sky was full of vultures, as was any available area of bare ground.
We also went through a police checkpoint - we all had to get off while they searched the bus.

Finally we arrived at the Autobus Terra. Back in Addis, and this time things look more normal - people are busy, there are cars on the road and taxis are running.

Weary from 2 days of buses, we hopped on a minibus across town to the Piazza and the Baro Hotel, where we flopped.

We went back to the Wutuma for dinner and had the best lasagne in the history of man. Sated we went to the internet cafe. Stef wandered off for a bit and came back with a coffee pot - apparently he'd been suckered by a man selling it on the street. Honestly, I can't leave him for 5 minutes!
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Where I stayed
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