Catching up on blogging: From my Addis break to the end (F**k-Yeah) of Ethiopia!

So my plan weeks and weeks ago in Addis had been to catch the USA/Canada hockey game which seemed impossible, and then head towards the group who was in the south of Ethiopia and catch up with them in Yabelo after enjoying a couple days in Shashamane.

In reality, it started off really well!

I couldn’t find the game at the aforementioned Global Hotel and found out it wasn’t playing on Supersport at all (the satellite sports channel that seemed to be the only option), so I was really down about it and the Global Hotel internet went down, so I returned to my hotel without saying bye to my American friends (sad) and tried to connect to an audio stream there, only to find CBC wasn’t streaming during the Olympics due to rights issues, ugh.

This Swedish guy came by the lobby area and got on the staff to look through the channels they got on their free Egyptian based satellite service, and low and behold with a lot of work we found it! On Abu Dhabi television, in Arabic, but it was the game! And Canada won!! 😀

The next morning I discovered online that most of the buses leave at 6am (and it was currently 8:30am), but I tried for the bus station anyways… Thinking I’d find a way, certainly… I paid very little for the taxi from my hotel to the bus station which made me realize that even though I got really good at negotiating rates down from what the drivers originally wanted in Addis, I still overpaid for every other trip. The bus station trip may have also been an overpayment, but it was like 45 minutes long and cost only double what my 5 minute trips had cost before… I came into the mayhem of the bus station and within 30 seconds was thrust on a bus which the driver assured me was headed to Shashamane. It was crowded and hot and I didn’t have a real seat (though I was sitting)… We stopped along the way in Lake Ziway and it was just filled with beggars and kids who followed me around asking for my coke bottle while it was still full of coke. Didn’t like the rest there. Shashamane came soon after, and I easily found my way to the hotel I wanted to stay at, Zion Train Lodge. 5 minutes after checking in Birgit texted me saying she’d ran out of phone credit but just filled up then and just got to Shashamane with the lunch truck to pick up some “sick” cyclists (note: this is a rasta town), and I could get a ride to camp if I wanted. I discovered that I did want that! So I quickly explained my situation to the hotel and they were totally cool with it (that place looked awesome, too!).. So I rejoined the tour!

The lunch truck was super late getting in and everyone was pissed cuz dinner was late. Then it rained and thunderstormed and was a really cool night! Noah (the camp truck driver) was alone when he got to camp and had to make up a story for the locals to get them to let us use their land, so he told them he was from the Military and they needed the land for the night. They believed him somehow despite the fact that he didn’t speak Amharic and we were all white cyclists that joined later. We heard the security (local land owners we were paying) later talking about being military for the night.

Talking to Birgit and Leah, I missed some cool days! Mostly one cool day! They camped in a national park instead of where they were supposed to because the old campsite was demolished when they got there. The new site overlooked two lakes, had ostriches and hot pools! What the F?! lol.. Oh well! I’m glad they had fun, I really needed the break! There’s some pics from their days without me below..

Rejoining, I was pretty energized and had a great day, helped by the coolness of the day! We only really rode to lunch since Birgit was feeling sick and we jumped on the truck, then played some frisbee at the end. It was a delicious night too, we had BBQ chicken (yay little pain again), and then pigged out on carmelized bananas and kettle corn that Justin made. So delicious! Great night! Funny to look back on it now (more on that later) as such an indulgence.

The next day we rode into Yabelo which was a shithole as far as rest days went. There was drinking the first night, lots of it. Sandro dove through his tent and had to get it repaired the next day. Bradley got a new nickname, Badley. 😉 Good times. I ate!

The next day was another good bike day for me, though there was headwind and cloud the whole day (actually this is probably why it was so good)… Where we camped there was “singing wells”, wells dug into the ground for water that apparently could be quite deep… The one we explored had water about 30 feet down (pics below) and was a fun time just climbing down. We saw lots of termite mounds this day too, mostly red dirt, but then when we got to camp the dirt was grey and there was grey mounds there! Very cool!

I can’t remember dinner that night, but basically it’s not mattering much anymore… I eat all the high protein meals, and the low/no protein meals I supplement with nuts (note for future riders: there’s a lot of high carbs no protein meals on this trip).

After that it was border crossing day and I went ahead with Bina to organize sim cards for Kenya in Moyale, across the border. The Ethiopian side of the border was insanity with lots of people trying to change your money for terrible rates and sell things for too high prices for those wasting their last birr. The power went out at the visa office so we had to sit there in baking heat far too long. When they finally stamped us out, Bina’s excitement was palpable. So funny. We were all so happy to leave… My favourite thing for the last couple days of riding was people asking “WHERE ARE YOU GO?!” and saying “KENYA!!!!” with the undertone of “Out of Ethiopia, bitches!”

Kenya was so nice in comparison! The immigration office had an English joke on the wall, the dude spoke perfect English, it was air conditioned… We didn’t get harassed til many minutes into the town, and then I think it was just Moyale craziness, being too close to Ethiopia… since it’s been amazing since! We camped that night at KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) campground, and it was pretty sweet. Showers and everything… Then on to the Kenya adventure! (Next blog, to come, soon! … like, today)

Final thoughts on Ethiopia:

  • Never again will I donate to anyone giving handouts in Africa. Samaritan’s Purse towns (towns with signs saying they handed out those damn shoeboxes from back home) were terrible. The kids were far worse. The key is empowering Africans to make their own difference in their life. Provide training, funds for public works perhaps, that kind of thing. They need fresh water, employ some Ethiopians to make more water treatment plants and give them the skills they need.
  • I really don’t know what the key to ending the rock throwing is… But it sucks. It sucks worse than you ever thought. We were all warned.
  • What sucks even more than rocks is the kids just screaming all day every day. You’re on the bike for 5-10 hours a day and they scream for 80+ percent of it. YOU YOU YOU. MONEY MONEY MONEY. CHINA CHINA CHINA. (China’s building the roads so they think you’re China since you have money? I don’t know). And then you never know if there’s a rock coming or not.
  • They can’t be that hungry when they turn away bread and want your banana instead.
  • Everyone gets sick in Ethiopia. I was sick every couple of days for the entire month. This sucks.
  • If they continue this route and it’s still unpaved, make sure you have shocks or at least cross brakes. Don’t rely on your roadie brakes, they’re useless and you’ll come close to dying on 2500 meter descents over hard rock roads.
  • I don’t think I’ll be back anytime soon, especially after comparing it to Kenya.
  • It really is a beautiful country if you find somewhere quiet to enjoy the scenery.
  • PICTURE TIME! Pictures from Addis to the Border. Enjoy! 65 this time. Lots Birgit’s, as always.

    Birgit and Leah posing on a big ass tree at one of the camps I missed!
    Birgit and Leah posing on a big ass tree at one of the camps I missed!
    Liked this picture of Leah. Hopefully she does too!
    Liked this picture of Leah. Hopefully she does too!
    Birgit got some sweet pictures of the creepy birds we kept seeing around the road south of Addis.
    Birgit got some sweet pictures of the creepy birds we kept seeing around the road south of Addis.
    Definitely vulture related! Anyone know for sure?
    Definitely vulture related! Anyone know for sure?
    I whole tree full of the creeps!
    I whole tree full of the creeps!
    Ugh, so creepy!
    Ugh, so creepy!
    The coolest blue lizard! I saw one of these too, but my picture wasn't nearly as cool as this one Birgit took!
    The coolest blue lizard! I saw one of these too, but my picture wasn’t nearly as cool as this one Birgit took!
    Some of the ostriches they got to see at camp 2!
    Some of the ostriches they got to see at camp 2!
    It's pretty crazy that these things just exist here..
    It’s pretty crazy that these things just exist here..
    A hot pool! Probably too hot for bathing...
    A hot pool! Probably too hot for bathing…
    Flamingos! Are you kidding me?!
    Flamingos! Are you kidding me?!
    Meanwhile I'm back in Addis watching hockey! ;)
    Meanwhile I’m back in Addis watching hockey! 😉
    The police in Addis are cracking down on seatbelts, so every taxi driver does this. WHY NOT PLUG IT IN?!
    The police in Addis are cracking down on seatbelts, so every taxi driver does this. WHY NOT PLUG IT IN?!
    Leah in Shashamene. Rasta time.
    Leah in Shashamene. Rasta time.
    Meanwhile I'm in this crowded bus...
    Meanwhile I’m in this crowded bus…
    It was *this* crowded.
    It was *this* crowded.
    Shashamene. The 12 tribes of Israel! Rastafarians are an interesting breed. I read the whole wikipedia article on the way there, check it out!
    Shashamene. The 12 tribes of Israel! Rastafarians are an interesting breed. I read the whole wikipedia article on the way there, check it out!
    My hotel, for 5 minutes, the Zion Train Lodge.
    My hotel, for 5 minutes, the Zion Train Lodge.
    There were some cool room options for a little bit more money.
    There were some cool room options for a little bit more money.
    And the couple that runs it was super nice. Alas. Next time! (note: no next time)
    And the couple that runs it was super nice. Alas. Next time! (note: no next time)
    Leah loves riding her bike. Seriously! She's one of the happiest riders on the tour.
    Leah loves riding her bike. Seriously! She’s one of the happiest riders on the tour.
    Some great big nice churches, even in towns where everyone is super poor.
    Some great big nice churches, even in towns where everyone is super poor.
    My own attempt at a creepy bird photo. Failish.
    My own attempt at a creepy bird photo. Failish.
    Justin passes us in the Hilux with the water trailer.
    Justin passes us in the Hilux with the water trailer.
    Birgit and Leah having a great day as well!
    Birgit and Leah having a great day as well!
    A fun little cookie stop. More people watching us. Forgot how annoying that was.
    A fun little cookie stop. More people watching us. Forgot how annoying that was.
    Then a few seconds down the road, a cool little coke stop.
    Then a few seconds down the road, a cool little coke stop.
    Oh yeah, they had these super hard donuts. Good though.
    Oh yeah, they had these super hard donuts. Good though.
    Showing the shop owner(s) some pictures from the past couple days. They loved it.
    Showing the shop owner(s) some pictures from the past couple days. They loved it.
    Chris on his repaired bike. Hopefully he's got a new frame arriving in Arusha.
    Chris on his repaired bike. Hopefully he’s got a new frame arriving in Arusha.
    Ina and Birgit enjoying a great spot at camp... With the donkey shit. :S haha
    Ina and Birgit enjoying a great spot at camp… With the donkey shit. :S haha
    BBQ Chicken day!!!
    BBQ Chicken day!!!
    And kettle corn. Again, thanks to Justin!
    And kettle corn. Again, thanks to Justin!
    There was a fire on the hill near us. I forgot about it til this picture, so it clearly didn't burn or smoke us out!
    There was a fire on the hill near us. I forgot about it til this picture, so it clearly didn’t burn or smoke us out!
    Alex looking hot in his pants. Birgit unimpressed with porridge again (probably, I'm just guessing).
    Alex looking hot in his pants. Birgit unimpressed with porridge again (probably, I’m just guessing).
    An all too common site here... Accident city!
    An all too common site here… Accident city!
    So much roadwork going on! All of the time!
    So much roadwork going on! All of the time!
    The road is half done!
    The road is half done!
    This was a cool coke stop too after like 15km of unexpected pavement. I should've taken a picture of the concrete squat "toilet" though. Just a hole into a huge huge concrete underground.
    This was a cool coke stop too after like 15km of unexpected pavement. I should’ve taken a picture of the concrete squat “toilet” though. Just a hole into a huge huge concrete underground.
    Alex enjoys his 10th flat of the day and decides to run it.
    Alex enjoys his 10th flat of the day and decides to run it.
    Oh snap, more unexpected pavement! The best.
    Oh snap, more unexpected pavement! The best.
    Termite mound! Some neat designs from them.
    Termite mound! Some neat designs from them.
    Never enough pictures of myself on here, so here's one while we took a break somewhere.
    Never enough pictures of myself on here, so here’s one while we took a break somewhere.
    Termite mounds galore!
    Termite mounds galore!
    Birgit and a termite mound!
    Birgit and a termite mound!
    Birgit tries to take a non-nonchalant picture of Samuru tribespeople. They're very colourful!
    Birgit tries to take a non-nonchalant picture of Samuru tribespeople. They’re very colourful!
    More riding photos, because they're fun!
    More riding photos, because they’re fun!
    Birgit wanted a picture with this huge tall mound.
    Birgit wanted a picture with this huge tall mound.
    And of course this meant she got a flat.
    And of course this meant she got a flat.
    We found the camels again!
    We found the camels again!
    Oh man I hated this coke stop. The people were just too ridiculous!
    Oh man I hated this coke stop. The people were just too ridiculous!
    So Africa. Though more lake than normal. Pretty sites before Yabelo!
    So Africa. Though more lake than normal. Pretty sites before Yabelo!
    I thought we were pretty much in Yabelo, so I was celebrating with a selfie... But we had another 6km to go. Sigh.
    I thought we were pretty much in Yabelo, so I was celebrating with a selfie… But we had another 6km to go. Sigh.
    My one picture from Yabelo. Like.
    My one picture from Yabelo. Like.
    Grey termite mound!
    Grey termite mound!
    Checking out the singing well! Michael, Ian, Young David.
    Checking out the singing well! Michael, Ian, Young David.
    Let's go down, shall we?
    Let’s go down, shall we?
    Yes please!
    Yes please!
    There was a huge frog at the bottom.
    There was a huge frog at the bottom.
    Packing up the truck the next day...
    Packing up the truck the next day…
    My bike rides one of the trucks to Kenya... I thought this was such a pretty picture of it!
    My bike rides one of the trucks to Kenya… I thought this was such a pretty picture of it!
    Michael enjoying some offroad!
    Michael enjoying some offroad!
    In Moyale Kenya, I went to a canteen ran by prisoners who were about to be released. Kind of a halfway out thing. Was good beef.
    In Moyale Kenya, I went to a canteen ran by prisoners who were about to be released. Kind of a halfway out thing. Was good beef.
    Another angle. Same canteen. Prison Canteen.
    Another angle. Same canteen. Prison Canteen.
    Anyone know this bird? Seen at camp in Moyale!
    Anyone know this bird? Seen at camp in Moyale!

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