I finally made it out of the city!
After plans for trips to certain regions, I finally gave up on planning any of them further. It’s kinda hard to go traveling in Ethiopia on your own, not because of danger or anything, I feel pretty save everywhere I go in the city. It’s a couple of facts, that make it almost impossible for me to take a break from what I do and go out to explore. When I usually go on trips, I only enter travel agencies for information how to go on my own. I never book a tour or anything – I hate booked tours. Of course, sometimes it’s not possible to go somewhere without a tour or guides due to restrictions within these certain areas in different countries. But that’s not what it is in Ethiopia. You can go everywhere you want to, although, there are some regions you propably shouldn’t go if you’re not into dangerous situations. Most of these critical regions are along the borders to Ethiopia’s neighbours.
But why did I finally make the decision to stay in Addis and focus on several one or two day trips around the city? Etihopia is big. It really is, and transportation is done only during the day. The roads are bad and a road trip takes around 5 times longer than in Europe. I’m used to travel over night, it saves the money for a hostel and you have the whole day to do what you like.
When I came up with the plan to go to south Omo, a rural area in south Ethiopia, I checked several opportunities to go there. If you book a tour, it will cost you around 100 $ per day including transportation, board and lodging. The trip takes around ten days. Impossible for my wallet to survive and not an option anyway cause as I mentioned before, I hate sitting in a bus with foreigners who have a fixed schedule on what and when something to visit – I hate booked tours. If you decide to book your own driver, it’ll be around the same amount of money you’d have to pay plus food and accomodation. For a shoestring traveler without time, there are basically 2 options to travel in ethiopia, both fulfill at least one of these issues. Hop on public transport is the first one and my absolute favourite. Hard time travelling with experiences you’ll never make again. Meeting people you don’t meet if you book a tour, sitting on shaking rice, garlic or wheatbags for hours next to a goat with the sound of scared pigs from the roof in your ear and the lovely smell of Diesel in your nose in a terrible heat that people try to esape by opening windows to get some air flow in the vehicle which automatically gives you the nice feeling of dust in all kinds of colours hitting your face, block up your breathing wholes and ruin your clothes. I love it!
Apparently, to go to South Omo by public transport you’ll have to stand all this for around a week. This is how long it takes to go down there from the city of Addis and of course, the same on your way back. Time that I don’t have and as much as I like torturing myself with public transportation, this is too much.
The other opportunity is flying. Airports are wide spread but tickets aren’t as cheap as they are in Asia, for example. In addition to the price, you’ll have a fixed schedule due to booking. It’s the typical rush that you will go through to see as much as you can because YOU PAID FOR IT and and and… in the end, you have lots of photographies and memories about sights and no special adventures at all. I don’t want that either.
If you’re planning to go to Ethiopia, a country that has a lot to present, either bring a lot of time or a lot of money.
Since I don’t have much of both, I’ll stay where I am and find my adventures in the city. Last tuesday, I finally made it out of Addis, on a one day trip to the nearby city of Bishoftu in Debre Zeyit. We were hanging out at a lake with a view on the hills, sipping good coffee and enjoying the warm sun. Perfect!
On our way back, we stopped at a nursery to have a look at some plants for the garden and while we were looking, this guy came in with the very familiar face. His face is plotted with deep wrinkles and he looks older than he is. His constant smile is the smile of a five year old, honest. Haile Gebrselassie, world record holder in marathon, one of the biggest and most popular sportsmen of our time and a hero in his country, who told the world just two weeks ago that he quits running, comes in…to buy plants. Rumours he would abrogate his retirement came up more and more over the last week so after I took my very first typical celebrity photo I asked him “will you come back?”. He smiled his five-year-old-smile and said while already focussing again on the strength of some plants’ leaves, almost casual as if nothing else ever was an opportunity “You can count on that!”
coming weekend the great Ethiopian run, a marathon with around 20.000 participants, will take place in the city of Addis Ababa. Haile Gebrselassie is not a participant. He only once participated and he still holds the record for it.
Info: during the time I met Haile Gebrselassie, his comeback was still unclarified. Meanwhile, it’s fact that he will run the Tokyo marathon in february 2011.