Yetale Abera bet?

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

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Friday, June 24, 2005

Click on the following link to read about our trip to Nechisar National Park.


Day the Seventeenth - in which we initiate a town-wide manhunt, and I stupidly go off on my own with a man I just met.


Up early but no sign of taxi until 5.30am. Glad we didn't pay the extra the guy at reception asked for.

At the station we got on a bus bound for Arba Minch. The journey was bumpy, involving eroded gullies, but the scenery was good, with roadside huts and cloud-clad hills. We stopped an inordinate amount of times, which dragged it on, though it did give us the opportunity to buy various snacky foodstuffs. I hate corn/maize cobs, but Stef got one, and we both tried some odd oily naan-like dough things. We stopped for lunch - the usual sleepy place where the most exciting thing that happened was when Stef flicked a corn grain across the table top and it took out one of the persistent flies.

Back on the bus, and back to the sport of the day 'hut-spotting'. Not that there was a shortage, but to find one that offered a clear shot at a photo.

Also saw some olive baboons by the road.
Then, all hell broke loose behind us when an army dude trapped his finger in the door. The big heavy rear-of-the-bus door. Owch! It was bleeding everywhere and people kept squeezing limes onto it, which had to sting like hell.

The road went right along the west shore of Lake Abaya so we were able to appreciate the size by how long we drove alongside it. The approach into town took us through endless banana plantations - we actually think they are ensete plants - or false-bananas - since they are a particularly important staple in southwest Ethiopia. Lush bright green lined the road thickly for miles and miles.

We arrived at the 'lower' part of town, Sikela (Arba Minch is split into 2 parts, Sikela and Shecha, which is up on the hill overlooking the two lakes, Abaya and Chamo). Some guys approached us as we walked out of the station, saying they could sort out a trip to the National Park and the crocodile farm. We said we'd keep that in mind, and left them to take a minibus to Shecha, to the Arba Minch Hotel. A group of guys there also gave us the park spiel. Then we were given a message about an Italian guy who was looking for other travellers, but when we asked around for him no-one knew where he was.

After freshening up, we got a minibus back down to Sikela, where we just missed the bank. Dammit. The National Park, Nechisar, is literally just down the road, so we walked out of town. I had intended to get a minibus that was heading in the right direction, but once we'd walked far enough it wasn't possible to flag one down. I grumbled a bit to Stef - it was very uncomfortable walking along the side of the road with the sun beating down on the top of our heads. But he was right, it wasn't far, and walking saved us the money. We took the turn down to the park entrance, and stopped for a while to watch a group of kids practicing some kind of dancing over the wall. We were joined by a large smiling man with official looking clothing on. We spoke to him about getting a 4WD around the park, and he suggested we go back to town and find a guy called Abera. He reckoned Abera would be able to sort us out, and he gave us vague directions to his house. He also told us how to ask, "Where is Abera's house?" in Amharic - Yetale Abera bet?
We thanked him and walked back to town, remarking to each other how jolly the park ranger was. Really nice guy.

What then ensued was probably an hours worth of confusion as we trotted around saying, "Yetale Abera bet?" to everything that moved. No, not quite, but still... we had a gaggle of excitably helpful young men herding us for a while. The main confusion came with the description of Abera's bet (house) being in/near a mechanics place. We should have left that bit out. Everyone thought we needed our car fixing.
Eventually, we got there, purely by continuing down the street until the name Abera was recognised. Abera was a friendly decent guy with good English who agreed to take us out to the park tomorrow. We arranged for him to meet us up in Shecha at 6am, and then stop off quickly to drop our bags off at another hostel down in Sikela before heading into the park. We feel we are paying too much for our current hotel so we're moving. We agreed on the trip costing $60 for the morning - enough time, we were told, to see the park. We reckon that is very reasonable - $30 each.

Satisfied we'd sorted out a good trip the good way - using a local reputable source - we headed back up to Shecha. Internet is definitely off throughout the country - we were told so by a man who sat next to us at dinner. We were in the same place as we'd gone for lunch since we'd liked it. It was a friendly little local place - despite the flies, which were the worst we've had since Lalibela - and soon we were chatting to the guy sat nearby. He had very good English, apparently having lived abroad for a while. When we mentioned the internet he offered to let us use his at home. Since we hadn't finished dinner, we stupidly decided that Stef would stay there and I'd go with the dude. Not that he was going to do anything - we'd got ok vibes from him (I wouldn't have gone with him if I felt even slightly dodgy) but still. It took a while and by the time I came back Stef was more than a little antsy. With hindsight we should have gone together.

Having said that, it was good to use the internet seeing as we've not sent a message home since Dese 8 days ago, nor do I know when we will next get internet. Nairobi probably. We hear rumours of a 'bus' service between Moyale and Nairobi, so hopefully we won't have to take one of those cattle trucks. That would be so nice. I'm not expecting Arriva or anything though...

When we returned to our hotel, Italian dude had materialised. He's alone, so doesn't want to fork out for a whole landrover. To be honest we'd rather it be just the two of us, but that's not really a good enough reason to tell him to get lost. I mean, there's no-one else here - no other groups going in, so he goes with us or not at all. We are nice people, so we told him we'd be meeting at 6am. Sigh. What I can't figure out is that he's heading in the Omo region next, and that is hardly a cheap trip. So he's hardly short of money. Oh well. I guess it wouldn't be so bad, except the bugger just will not stop talking.
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