Doka to Gonder

Trip Start Jul 26, 2010
Trip End Oct 31, 2010

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 30

We woke up after having had rain during the night and although we only put up the canopy off Corrie, we did keep mostly dry. With no reason to hang around we moved out early to the Sudan-Ethiopia border at Qallabat.

The border was a rope lying across the road in the middle of the town that we would have missed had it not been for a fixer pointing us in the right direction. The fixers seem to hang around most borders and are worth the couple Euros they ask just to know where things are and what the process is, you just have to agree a price before following him anywhere.

As we crossed the border the flat plains immediately changed to hills and mountains as headed up into the Ethiopian Highlands. The views were spectacular of massive bright green valleys in between the mountain passes. The Ethiopian kings of the past seem to each have made a different city their capital and our first stop over was Gonder, a capital of many centuries ago. After the obligatory hour lost in the market place and an inadvertent exterior tour of the 16th century palace that is Gonder's only landmark, we found a rather average hotel.

Ethiopia is not suitable for camping and all the books we’ve read recommend staying in hotels instead. This is because firstly there are no official camping spots to stay at, and then bush camping is not an option as the majority of the population lives along the few roads that there are, so finding a secluded spot is impossible. This also resulted in our palms getting a bit of a tan as everyone waves at us all the time.

After our stay in Sudan, a dry country, we quickly headed out to see if we could find some beer and exchange some dollars for birr. Dave headed off with yet another self appointed fixer and arrived back with a couple of thousand birrs smile on his face and a case of Gonder’s local beer. He had paid a total of 895 Birr, about R450. This included 200 Birr for the beer, and 695 Birr deposit for the crate and empty bottles. We were assured that with the shortage of crates and bottle we would be able to get even more than the deposit back in Moyale. (Now in Moyale, we have been told the max we could get for the crate etc is 150 Birr). After the dry and hot Sudanese beer free nights, Dave reckons it is worth every penny. What did save the night was our dinner, where we just told the waiter to bring us whatever he thought best and we happily ended the evening chewing on goat shin and the local staple food called injera, a grey/brown pancake type thing.

While Dave was away splurging on beer Andre was doing some servicing on the vehicle. He was however stumped that the high lift jack would not work properly. Dave immediately suggested Q20 (Which is his recommendation to all mechanical problems, with the occasional digression to duct tape), this was promptly laughed off. Eventually after 20mins of trying to get this jack to work the WD40 was dug out in desperation. A couple of sprays later the jack worked like a dream.
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