Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Long Adventure from Kampala through Southern Ethiopia - Verrrry Long

Have had no internet access the last week as I travelled through the bowels of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia.  Been an incredible adventure though.
About a week ago we were trying to go through Kenya as quickly as possible; and we did it in record time, roughly 41 hours...everyone told us it would take at least 3 days. 
We took an overnight bus from Kampala to Nairobi, arrived in Nairobi at 8am, found a bus to Isiolo (according to africans we talked to it should take 3-4 hours, but according to african time ((always multiply by 2-3x)) it actually took 6 hours), and arrived in Isiolo at 5pm.  We were only in Nairobi for about 3hours, but that was enough time to see a thief get beaten up by a mob of people in a muddy street...Nairobi is notorious for thieves, the Kenyans call it "Nairobbery." Back to Isiolo, Normally people jump on the back of a cargo truck for the 18-36 hour ride from Isiolo to the Kenya/Ethiopia border, but we were lucky and got hooked up with a Land Rover who was making the trip leaving at 7pm.  Negotiated the price from about $22 to about $15 a person and jumped in.
The driver flew...the road is one of the worst i've ever seen, 800km of rocky potholed desert, and he was going 100km/hr (~60mph) and almost fishtailing around every turn.  To put that in perspective, normal trucks go about 15-25km/hour most of the way since the road is so terrible.  I feared for my life at several points.  Of course because of the speed we had quite a few flat would think driving 800km through one of the most sparsely populated stretches of land in Africa, and on one of the worst roads in Africa the driver would come prepared for flats, but he only had one spare tire and a spare inner tube...and a bicycle pump to pump the inner tube.  It took 45 minutes to pump the inner tube in the 2nd flat...and the pump only worked because i had duct tape to fix the broken hose (thanks mom!).  The third flat we had to whittle the hole down, cut the first busted inner tube (with my scissors, they had none) and use the other tube to patch the hole.  From there we were only 3km from a small town, so we slept the night in the Land Rover, not having any money to pay for a room, we wanted to take as little money as possible through kenya, so many thieves.  Next morning got a new spare tire, and set off for the border.  Luckily, only one more flat on the way, and we made it into town...asses bruised from the bumps, but it only took 17hrs with 6 of that sleeping and about 4 fixing flats in the middle of the night. 
Finally get into Ethiopia, we have no guidebook, no map, and only about $90 cash between us.  We want to go to the Southwest where a lot of the native tribes live, they still live the same way they've lived for thousands of years, we read it is like driving through a museum.  I trade $20 for ethiopian birr and get ripped off for $2 when he quickly runs away after shorting me on the exchange.  As we walk children shout "You, You, You" from every direction, we discover that is what they shout to foreigners...a nice change from "Muzungu, Muzungo" everywhere in the Swahili speaking world.  We find a cheap room in Moyale, the border town and ask around for a bus to Jinka, which we thought was north but is actually Northwest.  We talk to someone and he recommends Yabello, so we go to Yabello the next morning because we don't have enough money for a bus anywhere else. 
We get to Yabello and there is no place to change money.  A nice guy befriends us, helps us get the bus from where we got dropped off to town, i have never seen such hysteria to get on a bus, pushing shoving, wouldn't be surprised if there was hair pulling and biting.  The drivers helps us go through the driver door because he knows we'll never make it.  Meleka, our new friend, takes us to a hotel for about $3 and finds someone to change anout $40 for us at 8.5 birr to the dollar, normally it is about 9, but we have no choice.  We walk around town, it is a market day, so tribal people are coming from all around to trade in the be continued, out of time here.


Post a Comment

<< Home