12.01.2013 - 14.01.2013 28 °C
Oh Addis! With a registered population of over 3 million (more like 10million if you ask anybody else) you can see why the capital city of Ethiopia is dirty.
Usually you can find yourself to be enamoured with a city within a few hours and maybe days, only we can’t say that about Addis. The city is slightly intimidating with evidence of poverty lining the streets, rubbish everywhere, the usual pick pocket posse trying to ply their trade, dogs abound or dying around and men peeing in the street. Yes, that’s right...you can see men peeing in plain sight with no qualms about it. In other words, do your bits and get out!
After two days of finally getting ourselves sorted with the trauma of our bags lost and the comforts of home truly gone, we were ready to leave the city to Bahir Dar. We booked the minibus from the hotel. This seemed to be the cheapest and easiest way to get to our first stop. Oops! First off, we’re now following African time. When they say the bus will leave a 6. It only means to start getting ready for that time and will probably arrive anytime after 7.30. After the slight delay, the bus arrives at 8.30 with one slight problem. There are 4 of us from hostel who are taking it, it’s a 14 seater van, all the seats but two are already taken. Without hesitation the driver says to pile in...we shake our head but obligingly do so. Before we are even ready to take off, we are asked to pay more money for our bags. The other two girls who are with us make a fuss and delay the journey even further with a back and forth argument between the driver, the person who sold the bus ticket and them. After much discussion, no extras are needed and we set upon our journey. That was a shortlived yay!
Think of it this way. I’m 6’2, Natalie is 6’1...back row and stuck in the corner. Not exactly the most comfortable position to be in for the next 10 hours. We couldn’t do much at this point so we just went with it begrudgingly. To make matters worse, remember that we are already 16 in a 14 seater van. That’s right...let’s pick up more people along the way. By the time we exit the city, the minibus has 19 passengers buckled in including a couple children on their respective mom’s laps. WTF!?
Through gritted teeth, we make it through the first 4 hours. That’s not without the driver stopping a couple times for a quick smoke and coffee. Note that I said driver and not us. It was probably a good thing as there was even was one place where there were men with guns in hand, staring at us intensely through the window. I can say for sure that they were definitely not Police officers. It wasn’t until the 5th hour we were finally allowed to get out. Pff! Stretchy, Stretchy! The only thing besides stretching that put a wry smile on my face was the fact that one of the kids selling his goods at the stop asked for my autograph. Apparently, I looked like a basketball player of sort. -Before I even had a chance to respond to him, he legged it as his friends started to make fun of him. That or I scared the poor kid away.
Now I might have forgotten to mention that Ethiopian drivers are crazy. Not only do they pack vehicles like sardines (which is the norm in Africa, we were told to think ourselves lucky there were no animals in the van with us) but they also like to drive in the middle in the road. Oddly enough, the drivers communicate with one another with this type of headlight/blinker Morse code. They alert each other when there is some obstruction up ahead, broken down vehicle, people on the road or even just bad bumpy roads. It works to some to degree but there’s no need to play chicken with the other car coming towards you. Again...WTF!?
It wasn’t until hour 7 that we were able to relax, a couple people got dropped off and we finally had a seat to ourselves. Again that was shortlived, we picked up another person and my knees were once again cramped against the door. Awesome! This only lasted another hour before another couple waved goodbye. From that point onwards, not only was the dark of night lifting but that inner frustrated frown was starting to turn upside down once the sun began to uncover the northern Ethiopian countryside.
It took 10 long forgettable hours over 580km to reach our destination and only one quick second to say goodbye to that horrible minibus. And that folks was the road to Bahir Dar...