Stepping back in time, into Ethiopia …..

Day 72 –

L: Ha ha, Jenni, I thought of you in my cold shower this morning. The cubicle was about a meter square, minute with nails sticking out for hooks (Steve thought he would hit his head on them). Now, you have to shower and get dressed in that after it is wet and miss the nails, quite a feat.

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We had slept quite well, but gosh, up at this altitude of about 2 500 m above sea-level, the night was freezing in the rooftop tent.

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This morning it is so busy with 6 dogs and all those flapping, flying things from last night. We left at 8.30 am as we had a long day from Timau.

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S: The road from Timau to Isiolo was not too bad, with the occasional pothole. The traffic was very light so early in the morning so we made good time. The tar road used to end at this town, but now there is a brand new road, heading northwards with hardly a vehicle on it. We travelled on this road for about 140 kms then we hit a road that was close to what we experienced in the Serengeti – BAD!!!!

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We experienced this road for about 50 kms when we were diverted off the road on a diversion which was much better and we could travel at about 60 kms/hour. There were roadworks all along this route as the road building goes on. Ultimately there will be a new tarred road from Isiolo until Moyale.

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The last 20kms or so we were back onto the bad, bad road until we got to our overnight stop, Camp Henry in Marsabit, Kenya.

L: This campsite was so cheap that we decided to get an en-suite room for KSH 1 500 (about R183) Camping is only KSH 500 per person.

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We packed out our things to make an early supper of mince and curried veg with cabbage cole slaw under the little structure, so as to be wind-free. Those roads had managed to get a new bottle of Lemonade unscrewed as well as the salt and pepper grinders and the Mayonnaise bottle……..
Supper was good and we met Nick from Ireland traveling with a friend and swopped stories. Later we met Duncan and Jess from South Africa and Jess’s dad, Mike who had joined them in Nairobi. It was great to chat to them all and pick up some information about roads traveled.

Now we can relax in the room and watch the sun go down…….

Day 73 – Happy Birthday, Caleb :-))

L: The wind was crazy last night so we were very grateful to be indoors. Although the mattress was as hard as a slab of concrete, we managed a good night’s rest and our customary luke warm shower this morning, though when I got out of mine, I had a nice hot cup of coffee to warm me. Steve had already set everything out under the little shelter again, made coffee and filled the flask.

We knew that we needed to get on the road as soon as possible if we wanted to make the border. We packed up, said goodbye to Nick, but not to Jess, Duncan and Mike as they were still all wrapped up in their tents.

S: Nick had said that the roads out were awful, the term he used, was “kip”……., but we were pleasantly surprised as it was a bit of both – good and then, not so good. We traveled for about 100 kms on a great, new tar road.

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The Chinese, in their wisdom, have constructed a road from Marsabit through the desert, towards the Ethiopian border. But, not many people travel this road …….We encountered a few busses and the rest were the cement-a-mixer-makers (as Lesley calls them), tip-trucks, water and tar trucks all connected with the road construction!!

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L: I was flabbergasted to see the amount of litter, mainly plastic bags, blowing in the breeze and then to see the construction workers open each bag of cement, pour it out on to the tar and fling the bag high in the air to catch the wind and blow it to the edge of the road. Can we hope that they will be picking each one up.

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There were a lot of shepherds, boys or girls with the many different animals e.g. goats, sheep or cows and then I was thrilled to come upon a whole “packet” of camels with the most gorgeous babies amongst them. I counted at least 6 little ones being protected by their mommies in the middle of the caravan. How special.

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S: We reached the border at Moyale after being stopped by the police to copy all the information from my passport and driver’s licence.

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We had been on the road for 6 hours now as it was 2.30 pm, we had covered only 240kms with all the detours. We had stopped for a few minutes for some instant noodles and chips.

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We had a few Kenyan shillings still so drove to a service station to fill with fuel. We were told by a group of men that this garage is no good and they would take us to another. I felt uneasy when a taxi and motorbike closed in on us and blocked our way. I revved the car and moved forward and luckily the motorcyclist got the message and kicked his stand to move the bike out of the way. They were signalling where we should go, but by now we were both creeped out and headed directly for the border post.

L: I caught the eye of one of the army officers and motioned for him to, please, keep an eye on the car and we went inside to customs. No problems, all very polite and easy with their fancy machines taking our photos and finger prints – no inky hands.

We drove the short distance across to the Ethiopian side with our Carnet de Passage being in order, remembering to drive on the right-hand side of the road!!

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We parked the car and went over to the Immigrations building where we were stopped and told to come back tomorrow as everyone was in a meeting. We knew that the office closes for lunch daily, but now this was not good.

After begging and pleading for a while and Steve saying that we needed to drive another 3 hours to get to Yabello even though we were hoping to find somewhere really close to the border, we were getting nowhere. We were stuck as we had been signed out of Kenya and now they wanted us to go and find an hotel without our passports stamped for Ethiopia.

I moaned and eventually went up to the sheet metal gate and knocked loudly and constantly. When someone came, I told him that I would not go away and that he would have to call his manager. The manager gestured to me to come back tomorrow so I showed him that I was just going to continue banging on the gate. It worked. Very disagreeably, they ushered us in, and signed our papers, flinging the stamped passports back at us. Thank you!!! (Fore-warned is fore-armed, we had heard that most people struggle to get the officials to take them seriously).

S: Across the road at Customs was a totally different kettle of fish. The official that took the Carnet was charming and soon had everything done and signed. He did a very quick check of the vehicle, getting me to open the boot, but waved us on.

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We had asked about Third Party Insurance, but no-one could help us. So we will have to research that further in the towns as we no longer have the insurance company back home willing to cover us after Kenya.

We messaged the girls to say that we were in Ethiopia before we lost connection.

L: Steve stopped at an hotel that had some UN vehicles outside and came back out to say that it was awful with not a woman anywhere in sight, only men.

Just over the border, we were stopped by the customary spikes across the road and I felt edgy when a youngster in plain clothes approached and asked for the car papers and our passports. I only cracked the window open a fraction and showed everything through the glass. As we drove off, we saw the uniformed policemen who were obviously letting the kids do the checks for them, quite bizarre.

We drove on to the little town of Mega through the band of tuk-tuk taxis, motorbikes and people all over the road for about 100kms. The hotel in Mega, on Tracks4Africa is shabby and dirty from outside so we left. We tried to ask a policeman for an ATM, but we think he was saying that it was closed.

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Oh my word, Mega is not it………so we left to drive a further 100 kms to Yabello. Steve was tired and stressed, but there really was no choice. The road from Mega to Yabello is brand new and wide with hardly any traffic. A few of the children were pretty aggressive yet others were smiling with thumbs up signs all along the way.

S: Just before we got into town, squinting to see every car and motorbike as no-one uses headlights..?? – we were stopped by a youngster with a dirty piece of rope across the road. Claiming to be an official……and asked a lot of strange questions about our journey thus far. Again no uniforms in evidence though this was supposed to be a Customs check.

We finally found the oasis that we were looking for, thank you Lord for bringing us safely all the 461 kms in over 9 hours. Yabello Motel was clean and we were happy to take the “better” room at $45. We have an armed guard at the front for the car and ourselves.

We booked in at reception with Beeftoe (that is what she said her name was) and ordered a beef burger and chips to come back to when we had settled ourselves.

L: The burgers were cardboardy, but edible, the chips overcooked in not too fresh oil, but we managed most of it and a Coke and a “Castel” for Steve (a crib on SA Castle?..). All told, less than than R100. No light to eat by so I had my headlamp on the table and the man at the next table shouted at me saying the light is no good. The car park is in darkness too – what is it with these people, don’t they like seeing where they are going or what they are eating……..

A quick catch up with the typing for the blog and I look over my shoulder and Steve has passed out on the bed zzzzzzzzzz.

Our 7th country, having covered 13 136kms in 73 days. Today has been a long road, but it is so good to be moving again.

WordPress does not always allow us to reply to the comments, but we try. We are loving having our “arm-chair travelers” encourage us and prayer for us, thank you all so much.

God bless.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Stepping back in time, into Ethiopia …..

  1. Love the baby camels. Too cute. Please be careful, starting to sound creepy.

  2. Tish

    Very creepy. Maybe they have reason for keeping the lights off?sleep title and keep safe!

  3. Meds Martin

    It is staring to sound hairy but it sounds like you have learnt how to handle the officials. Be careful and stay safe. Love the baby camels and look forward to each new post.

  4. Anton

    This was an exhausting, but fantastic read.
    Thanks again for your attention to detail!
    Glad you managed all the obstacles.
    Nerves of steel, you have! 🙂
    *hugz

  5. Shirley johnson

    Still reading your blog, in fact I can’t wait to check my emails. We pray that you and Steve are safe always, take lots of care, love Shirls and David xx

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