De Addis Abeba a Ciudad del Cabo (From Addis Ababa to Cape Town)

The hits just keep coming
December 5, 2011, 7:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The day of our journey to Gonder started off just like our first few days in Addis – badly.

Our noisy next door neighbours gave us a wake up call at what we thought was 2.30am so we were ready (but not wide awake) to find a taxi at 4.30am for the trip to the departure point for the bus to Gonder. After waiting around in a dark, smelly alley for over an hour and a half while waiting for the bus (we were due to leave at 5.30am), the bus finally pulled in to the parking lot. It was only when we were on our way (and according to our watches, it should have been close to 7am so the sun should have been rising) and it was still pitch dark that we realised that three days before, we had set our watches forward by one hour too much so could have spared ourselves that neverending wait in the alley. We’re slowly learning as we go along …

Next up was the 12 hour bus trip to Gonder on a pretty comfortable bus and some lovely scenery, but after endless Ethiopian pop videos, romantic dramas and soaps and what looked like a national version of ‘Ethiopia’s Got Talent’, we were glad to get off.

That night, we decided to treat ourselves to the Goha Hotel, one of the fanciest hotels in Gonder perched high up on a hill 2km from the main part of town. Dinner was mediocre to say the least and our fellow diners consisted of elderly foreigner tour groups . . .

Our pre-arranged tuk-tuk back to town never arrived and as there was no phone network that night, we couldn’t call another taxi. The hotel shuttle agreed to take us back into town and in our hurry to jump in the shuttle, I left my brand new Blackberry on the table in reception. As soon as we got back into our room, I realised I didn’t have my phone. Panicked and anxious, we managed to find a tuk-tuk (by this time it was after 10pm and the streets in Gonder are dark and near deserted) driver and his mates (we had no choice, they all jumped in) to drive us back up the hill. The gates to the Goha were closed so I climbed under the fence through a hole in the barbed wire and ran up the driveway (forgetting about the guard stationed at the gate who appeared shortly after I had run past with his AK47, which freaked Alberto out just a little as he stood waiting at the gate with the tuk-tuk entourage.

Reception deny seeing my phone although I am 100% positive that is where I left it. One of the guys on Reception did wake up the shuttle driver so we could check the shuttle van but no luck.

So, I felt pretty horrible about the whole thing yesterday and it was made even more surreal (that’s my description for Ethiopia so far – surreal!) when the somewhat dubious tourist police found Alberto outside the internet cafe and knew all about the phone (the tuk-tuk driver told the tourist police what had happened). Today we went back to the hotel with the police and spoke to the manager, who I don’t think believed me. We were due to go back to the police station again later this afternoon but after being shafted by the police for the trip up to the hotel and back and just the nature of the whole episode, we decided to just let it go. I have learnt my lesson though.

Despite this, not everything has been a bad experience in Gonder. We moved to a lovely new guesthouse yesterday (the only boutique hotel in Gonder :-), Lodge du Chateau, where the rooms are arranged around a bright garden and there’s a great terrace to have breakfast and contemplate life while listening to the sounds of the town around you and watching the kites and eagles (there are loads of them in Gonder) swoop past. The owner/manager is really helpful and welcoming too (Alberto’s got another story about this too which I’m sure he’ll add to the blog later. Tip – use Google translate if you want to read his entries, sometimes just the translation itself is worth a laugh). We’ve also been to some of the tourist sites including the Gonder palaces and St Michael’s church with its beautifully painted and brightly coloured murals (the electricity had just gone out when we went to visit today so some of the pictures don’t do the paintings justice).

One of the palaces at Gonder

One of the palaces at Gonder

The view from the Chateau

The view from the Chateau

Consoling myself on the terrace of the Lodge du Chateau

Consoling myself on the terrace of the Lodge du Chateau

St Mikael's murals

St Mikael's murals

Tomorrow we are off to the Simien Mountains for a four day, three night trek complete with guide, ranger, mule and mule handlers and cook just for the two of us. From the pictures I’ve seen, the Simiens look amazing so pretty excited about the trip. I’ll let you know if we managed to spot any Gelada baboons or Walia ibex (mountain goats) when we get back on Friday and will try to keep the entry a bit shorter next time!

Take care and let us know what’s going on in your side of the world.

3 Comments so far
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Ma gustaría poner en un lenguaje comprensivo para todos lo que de verdad pienso del montaje que les llevó solo en escena día y medio para apoderarse de vuestra emisora; en mis términos eso es lo que habeis perdido. No sería consuelo decir que todavía quedan las señales de humo, que tampoco es una idea despreciable en sitios pronterizos y calientes, o alquilar un tam-tam: pensar que en algunos lugares es ya un lujo cargar la batería. Lo lamentable de estas tretas es que en modo alguno un aficionado sabra utilizar las aplicaciones y recursos de una herramienta demasiado compleja para el, y que acabará despreciando como otra bombilla de lujo, sin poder aprovechar poco mas que un surf en la net, o la caza de marcianitos. A veces hemos discutido preferencias por equipos compactos o desmontables; total, buscar un pendrive, una kodak de tarjeta y ya habra tiempo para escribir notas en los troncos de un baobab. Un abrazo.

Comment by esperanza

Sounds like you have had a hell of a start…just think it can only go up from here (get it up a mountain?!..I know it’s not funny). Keep smiling guys! :)

Comment by Autumn

Hi mates.long time since I haven’t checked your blog and look how many posts you have already already.
We went today to needoo and marcin asked me about your trip. I told them about your adventures the first days.
I am sorry for your loss simone. Maybe it was in your destiny to get rid of it. You are in africa, I am sure you will survive without it!

I am right now stuck in a traffic jam on my way to brixton to take the victoria line to go to candem. I love public transport in london!

Things here are as usual, the world is about to end every day, and england doesn’t give a sh.. About it! good for them :-)
I am going to keep reading the other posts. these posts are making my journey :-)

Comment by Ángel

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