POV

Fish Eats Man in Ethiopia. Really.

By Eric Hill - http://gowitheric.com
Courtesy of Eric Hill

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Wow! After experiencing the ease of the European transit system during the last two weeks, getting around Northern Africa seemed rough! Luckily the experiences between travel woes made everything worth it. My first country was Ethiopia. After a two-day delay due to some oversold flights (story of my life), I finally made it to Addis Ababa. Though the capital city sits right near the equator, its elevation is high so the temperature was perfect when I walked out of the airport.

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Courtesy of Eric Hill

I was alone again, but confident that I could find a new friend like I’ve always managed to do. On my way to exchange my Euros to Ethiopian Birr, I found three of those friends. Kirubel, an eighteen-year-old pre-engineering student was the one that stuck by my side through the next few days through a lot of ups and downs.

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Courtesy of Eric Hill

My main goal was to get to a once-a-year festival near the city of Arba Minch, twelve driving hours south. I’d missed the weekly flight there because of the delays getting to the country and the bus would take so long I’d miss the festival. So I bit the bullet and forked out the cash (way above budget) on an old Land Cruiser with a mandatory driver for two days. To make a long story short, the agreed upon price that I was already cringing at turned out being only half of what I ended up paying! The rusty old 1992 4×4 sucked up more than twice as much gas as I was told it would and we ended up taking four days instead of two to get there and back because we got in… wait for it… two car accidents!

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Courtesy of Eric Hill

The first and biggest one should have been a lot worse. Somehow besides some scratches on my knee from the bare metal dashboard in the seatbelt-less vehicle, no one was injured. It happened due to an overturned truck at night and our dim, poorly pointed headlights. Apparently it’s a normal thing there to surround road hazards with big rocks so others won’t hit the road hazards, but the rocks themselves are significant road hazards! In other African countries they choose to use a milder form of warning system, mainly of leaves, grass and branches laid on the road… not giant rocks. Oh well, to each their own. So in the pitch-black night on a dark road, the rock seemed to come out of nowhere. After only a few moments of screeching tires, the passengers side front axle smashed into the rock making the car jump as the rest of the chassis scraped over the top of it. Luckily, we squealed to a stop on all four wheels. Unluckily, the axle was toast and had to be repaired AND there was no way we were getting to the town where the festival was that night.

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Courtesy of Eric Hill

The next day after exhausting every effort to get there before dark, we ended up arriving several hours after the festival ended and all the tribes left. So I ended up spending way more than I wanted only to get there too late for what I spent the extra cash for. I can’t really complain though. I mean, I WAS in Ethiopia meeting some cool people along the way. Plus, even though I didn’t have the cultural experience I hoped for, I got to teach Kirubel how to swim in a local swimming hole. I was there for this eighteen-year-old’s first time ever jumping into water, pretty exciting for both of us.

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Courtesy of Eric Hill

After the long journey back to Addis, I took the closest, cheap room to the airport because of my flight early the next morning to Djibouti. I’ve slept in some shady places before, but this place was second to dirtiest so far (second to a place in Lima, Peru back in 2006). If it weren’t for my exhaustion, I would have moved right away. The only clean looking thing was the towel they left on my bed for a shared shower I didn’t dare step barefooted into. So I laid the towel on top of the filthy bedding and laid down, fully clothed, on top when… Snap! The bed broke under my weight! I got taco-ed between the support boards as the bedding I was trying to avoid contact with smothered me. I moved rooms. Somehow I had one of the best sleeps of my trip so far. I guess I needed it!

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Djibouti offered me a couple dreams come true, but first I wanted to get across the land border to Somalia. I was trying to get Seylac, a city in the Somaliland region of Somalia. There were complications from the beginning. “No there is no public transport Somaliland,” I was told, and I was offered again a very expensive private Land Cruiser transport. Nope. Not this time. I found an unemployed Somalilander that I could hire as a guide to his native country. He was happy for the work, and I needed his help to travel cheap like the locals do. It turns out there are plenty of public transports in the form of little trucks with covered backs they call “pickups” packed to the hilt with locals on their way to Somaliland. So things were looking good.

Courtesy of Eric Hill

Courtesy of Eric Hill

When I arrived in Djibouti I was told I was buying a multi entry visa, which I needed to enter Somalia and come back into Djibouti on the same visa. However, when I got to the dusty land border between Djibouti to Somalia, I was told I had a single entry visa, which meant I couldn’t legally cross into Somalia and come back without getting a new visa. Long story short, to get a new visa would be a three-day ordeal once in Somalia. That’s when my guide really paid off. With a little talking he convinced the border guard to let me across for the day without putting an exit stamp on my visa, as long as I came back while he was still on duty before the border closed that night. Hmm. Last time I crossed into a country illegally with explicit permission to do so, I ended up at gunpoint at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. I really wanted to get into Somalia though. I asked a few more questions and really tried to read the character of this border guard. Things felt right, so I headed in.
To be continued…

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Source: http://gowitheric.com

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One Response to “Fish Eats Man in Ethiopia. Really.”

  1. bt says:

    i like all the pictures