Monday, 15 October 2007


As I write this report I'm looking out the window of an Etiopian Airlines flight on my way back to South Africa. I'll be in Cape Town for a few weeks, courtesy of my sister Olga. It's a strange experience flying back over the ground I'd covered during the past six and a half months, almost like a quick rewind of a very long movie. I'm using the opportunity to take my bike back with me for the necessary attention (hopefully Old Saartjie is indeed in the hold of the plane). Since Nairobi I've only had the one off day in Marsabit, and I feel that I need a good rest. I've also had to push on through the scenic but hilly Southern Ethiopia in order to make my flight date in Addis Ababa. With the heavily loaded bike on the many big slow hills, an aggravation along the rural roads is the hordes of youngsters making a nuisance of themselves (chanting "you-you", "ferange", and "give me .... whatever"). They also attempt to pull luggage off the bike, throw stones, and there was even the odd effort to get a stick in the spokes. In Addis I found the people to be more welcoming, and I've really enjoyed the 2 days there. Most of my belongings remain in Addis for when I return to continue my journey. Other good things about Ethiopia are that the food is very good, and things are very cheap (just avoid the tourist traps). Things I've found odd about the country are that their clock is 6 hours different, they're about half a month behind, they have their own alphabet, they drive on the "wrong" side of the road, and they are currently celebrating the millenium. Distances since Moyale were:- Mega 113 km; Yavello 103 km; Agra Maryam 100 km; Dilha 95 km; Shashemene 113 km; Meki 122 km; Debre Zeit 92 km; and Addis Ababa 54 km.


After leaving Nairobi I took the scenic route to the East of Mt Kenya. This region is more tropical than the drier Western main road, with tea and coffee plantations on the hillsides, and bananas and rice in the valleys. "Scenic" usually comes at a price, and the price was "no flat road", only long steep ups and downs. In the process I also crossed the Equator. To the North of the mountain the climate abruptly changed, and from Isiolo I was on very poor dirt roads slowly making my way through the arid landscape where there are a number of colourful tribes (including the Samburu). Wherever possible I cycled on goat- and camel tracks, trying to keep the road in my sight. However, I discovered that a goat is shorter than a man on a bicycle, as a number of times I found myself hooked up and bleeding in the thorns. Another hazard on the roads is the local "busses" (trucks with passengers on top), kicking up dust and stones at full throttle. By the end of the day I tended to look like a rat that rolled in mealie meal. My only rest day after Nairobi was in Marsabit, before I continued North through the volcanic rock desert to the Ethiopian border at Moyale. The "road" was almost impossible and villages were far apart, forcing me to spend nights in the desert with very little water (once there was a sand storm which lasted most of the night). Armed bandits in the area regularly hijack trucks, but fortunately I had no such problems (perhaps they pitied me because of my bedraggled appearance). Distances since Nairobi were:- Sagana 118 km; Chuka 85 km; Meru 58 km; Isiolo 53 km; Archers Post 38 km; Serolipi 67 km; Laisamis 66 km; Logologo 51 km; Marsabit 50 km; Bubisa 47 km; Turbi 60 km; Sololo 73 km; and Moyale 88 km.