When it rains, it pours
Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
84Trip End Aug 18, 2005
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We got up at 5am, but I wasn't feeling so good and we stayed in the room until 6 to be sure I was fit for bus travel. At 7am we got a bus to Shashemene, choosing the side with the best Rift Valley Lake viewing-potential. Alas, it was not meant to be - it was overcast and rainy the whole way down. The bus steamed up, the windows had rain all over them, the clouds were low and anyway, the land is flat so you probably can't see much of the lakes on a good day. They are flat bodies of water in a flat landscape.
All the rain did make for a leaky bus - fortunately our bags were inside not on the roof; they do throw a tarp over the top but I doubt it'd be enough to stop this kind of rain penetrating.
At Shashemene we hopped straight on a minibus to Awassa, not wanting to hang around there any longer than necessary. Our bags were put inside again, up front by the driver. We were sat on the front row, behind the driver, and as the bus filled up a man and his small daughter sat on the ledge by our feet, with their backs to the driver. It must have been so uncomfortable for him, with the girl on his lap. He gave her a biscuit, which she proceeded to maul, and a drinks bottle, which she spilt all over the feet of the lady beside us.
As we arrived and crawled slowly through Awassa, we passed a dead donkey in the road. I can't believe no-one had moved it - that's some pretty big roadkill, but everyone just went around it.
Getting off the bus, we had *another* bag issue - the weyala (conductor/bag guy) sat beside us as we were approaching Awassa and asked us for money. When we had got on the bus, we had put the bags at the front. But he had grabbed them and tried to shove them under the seats further back. They didn't fit, something we had told him would happen, and he brought them back. Now he wanted paying for his lack of spatial awareness. So, we brought out our little weapon - "lemin?" ('why?').
We took a taxi the 4km across town and down a bumpy gravel road to the Wabe Shebele II. Yes, a government hotel, but it had a good review and when we got there we weren't disappointed. It is on the lake - Lake Awassa (go figure) - and it's got grounds full of trees and wildlife. Since we'll be staying a couple of nights it's exactly what we're looking for. And the room is huge! After showering we wandered around a bit, taking photos of the birds and monkeys.
The vervets are quite tame - they aren't bothered by our presence much. This one was trying to break into our room through the mozzie netting:
Then we sat down to drink some coke under some huge fig trees.
And best of all - the trees along the lake shore have fish eagles in them!
Consulting the town map, we noticed a footpath along the lake front, so we wandered off in search of the start. Between the hotel and the path was an army barracks, which we intended to avoid. However, we ended up walking through it with our camera out, until a man came and told us that we shouldn't be here. Oops. We did get a look down by the lake where we noticed the skeleton of what could only have been a hippo. Bad army people...
Back on the road a man passed us carrying a bundle of grass on his head.
Redirected, we made our way along the lake, sharing the peace with marabous and horses grazing.
We were enjoying the pleasant stroll so much that we never noticed the storm front approaching behind us until we were about 4 km from the hotel. The wind picked up and we figured it'd be a good idea to head into town and speed it up a little. We got part the way back when the drops started - big heavy drops.
We stood beneath a tree for about a minute, until I mentioned that there was no way we'd stay dry. Spotting an open door, we ran across the street into a motorcycle showroom of sorts. Just in time too - the heavens completely opened and it rained torrentially for about an hour and half. The road turned to a river, the newly dug ditches at the sides caving in and filling up. Up the road slightly a donkey pulling a cart had got stuck in the sea of mud that used to be a side street. It looked bedraggled and a man looking like a drowned rat was tugging at its tack in vain.
Stef and I were reduced to giggles when a man trotted past with a tiny pink umbrella, marking the surreal moment of the day.
Eventually it eased off and we set off again, clutching our trouser legs to keep them from dragging in the petrol-swirly puddles. A little lost, we took a left to head deeper into town, and promptly spotted 3 white girls ahead. They had backpacks so we soon pulled level, and greeted them with a "faranji!" They were also lost - so we conferred, them with the Lonely Planet map, us with the Bradt map (which we had taken a photo of so we could view later without needing to carry the book). Together the 5 of us made our way to the Wabe Shabele II, since they were aiming there too, getting some stares along the way. I mean, come on - 5 faranjis all in the same place! The girls were on a trip from Addis where they were teaching. They were meeting up with some others from the institution.
We got back to our room to find a tarantula. A small one in the grand scheme of things, but a tarantula none the less. We herded it into a glass and then proceeded to take lots of photos of it. When we finally let it go it probably spent the next hour staggering around the gardens with flash-blindness.
Then we went out to the bar and ate fish. Yeah fish...yummm. A little expensive, but a nice change from injera. The sky was dramatic after the storm.
We were joined by the girls for a while - we chatted about our respective views and experiences of Ethiopia, as well as where we were going next. They left us to observe the matron-like lady who seems to run the restaurant/bar. She's quite a character - hating the resident monkeys, dogs and cats, bossing the other staff around and generally not taking any shit. We tried to pay for our dinner with a larger note in the hopes of getting change, but she was having none of it. She had spied the lesser notes in Stef's hand, and lent across to help herself.
Light fading, we took some final pictures and retired to bed, happy in the knowledge that we don't have to get up for anything in the morning.