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Ethiopia up and down


We landed in the city in the clouds, 2km higher above sea level than our point of departure, Khartoum. Addis Ababa had been a place of interest to us, perhaps it was the curious sounding name that added to the allure (as was suggested by more than one other person). The capital city of Ethiopia lies at 2355m and its surrounding environment lay in stark contrast to the capital of Sudan. During our week long stay there, there were often low hanging clouds snaking through the skyscrapers. There were tree-lined pavements, the hills visible from most parts of the city were green and lush; the temperatures ranged pleasantly between 11 and 25 degrees Celsius. And there were actually hills. Despite Khartoum being on the banks of the converging Blue and White Niles, it was much drier, hotter, windier, and there were only a handful of buildings more than 5 stories high. Tuktuk’s owned the streets in Khartoum, and many of the roads were in disrepair. There was lots of military presence, yet we were very happy and enjoyed the energy of that city and its people.

As you know, there has been a serious outbreak of violence (caused by a power struggle between different military branches and their generals) in Khartoum in the last weeks, and we are deeply saddened by how this is hugely disrupting the lives of the friendly, calm-natured people living there, who desperately want and need properly functioning politics. I have been in contact with my friend Zekarias, who has been keeping me updated about his experience since the outbreak of the war. His wife, his 4 children (aged 7-14 and who I all met in Khartoum) and himself, first left their home to move to a safer neighbourhood in the city, where they met another family in a similar situation. After much discussion they then decided to travel together to the border of Chad, more than 1000km through the desert and through the heavily stricken Darfur region. He told me that either of the forces could show up at any moment and take everything they have, or worse. The price of water is incredibly high. To know that many hundreds of civilians have already been killed in the crossfire is extremely touching, and it feels very different hearing about this when one has visited the place and met some of the people, as opposed to simply hearing about it as a foreign country’s affairs on the news.

Arriving in the capital of Ethiopia with all it’s differences by airplane, also made us again appreciate how different and more natural it is to cycle at a human level pace from A to B. I don’t think our ancient ape brains can easily comprehend what happens in a few hours on a plane, that which would would normally take a few weeks.

1st night's camp spot in Ethiopia, alone with only goats and cows

Emma was still recovering from malaria and the weakness that it brought on, so the 6km cycle from the airport to our friends house was a bit tough. We were distracted by the smooth tarmac roads, the fact that there were actually lanes on the roads, and the big, modern feel of the city. Nils and Nitsuh were friends who I had met through a good friend of mine Nate, at university in The Netherlands, and they had welcomed us into their home for as long as we wanted and needed to. Nils is (amongst other things) a Dutch book editor and writer, and Nitsuh is Ethiopian, grew up in Addis and is an illustrator (also amongst other things). They had recently moved into a super nice flat together and we were given our own room and bathroom, what a treat!

We discovered one of the best things about Ethiopia on our second day there; this country would reliably have the highest quality, cheapest, and most widely available coffee we had ever tasted! Nitsuh gave us the full demonstration of the process one evening. The fresh green beans would be roasted on a special pan with holes in it; they retain their freshness for much longer when they are stored un-roasted. She would pass the pan around for everyone to smell, coffee is not simply a taste thing, but a multi-sensory social experience. Then she ground the beans and put them in the traditional black clay long-necked coffeepot. The pot with water would then be heated up (normally on hot coals), and then poured into specific sized cups a bit bigger than espresso cups. These would be filled up to the the BRIM, so spilt coffee is a common thing. A small clay bowl on legs would then be filled with hot coals, and some incense powder sprinkled on top. This would let off a rich, spicy smoke which would burn approximately until you have finished drinking the coffee, and turns the act of drinking coffee into more of a ceremony than anything else. Nitsuh also told us that it is common to drink 2 or 3 cups of coffee after each meal; breakfast, lunch and dinner.

How this delicious coffee is tradiationally served in Ethiopia, with incense!

The first few days we spent in Addis involved mainly resting, reading, buying abundant varieties of vegetables and fruit (lots of cheap pawpaws/papayas and mangoes), cooking good food and having interesting conversations with our hosts. Nitsuh prepared a few delicious Ethiopian dishes for us, and we were happy to learn that our time in the country would be coinciding with the time of religious fasting, which in Ethiopia means eating purely vegan food.

One day, we went to the National Museum of Ethiopia. We hadn’t been going to many museums, because we often didn’t stay in places for many days at a time, and they were usually out of our budget. But we had heard this was a good one and it was only about 2 euros per person for the entry. The exhibitions comprehensively documented Ethiopia’s history. The bottom floor contained pre-historic artefacts and explanations of the geology of the Great Rift Valley. I had struggled to understand what this Rift Valley actualy was, and so did some further research. There is some debate amongst geologists, but it seems that technically the rift extends for thousands of kilometres all the way from Lebanon down through the Red Sea (with a branch extending East into the Gulf of Aden), through East Africa and ending in Mozambique (see diagram below). When people speak about the ‘Great Rift Valley’ however, they are usually referring to only the East African Rift System, which is a smaller section of the whole rift, and is technically known as a ‘developing divergent tectonic plate boundary’. In simpler words this means the African plate is slowly being pulled apart into 2 separate tectonic plates which are called the Nubian Plate (which contains most of the African plate) and the Somali Plate (which is being pulled Eastwards away from the rest of the African plate). This rift runs Southwards from the Afar Triple Junction at Eritrea (where the Nubian, Somali and Arabian plates meet) through the Ethiopian Highlands, splits into 2 branches that run down either side of Lake Victoria then rejoin in Tanzania, extending further South into Mozambique.

Diagram showing plate boundaries, and the Western and Eastern Rifts of the Great Rift Valley

There are a series of lakes running along the deep floors of the rift (see below), including Lakes Shala and Abaya in Ethiopia; Turkana, Baringo, Bogoria, Naivasha and Nakuru in Kenya; Albert and Edward on the borders of Uganda and DRC; Kivu on the border of Rwanda and DRC; Tanganyika (2nd deepest freshwater lake in the world; its floor lies 358m below sea level) on the borders of Burundi, DRC and Tanzania; and Lake Malawi which borders Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. Lake Victoria (2nd largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area at 60.000km2), does not lie in the rift, but rather in a shallow depression between the Western and Eastern branches of the rift. The Rift Valley lakes are some of the oldest, deepest, and most biodiverse lakes in the world with many endemic species of fish and amphibians. One reason I found the Great Rift Valley interesting to learn about was because we would be cycling in and out of it a couple times and visiting some of the lakes, which would translate into some pretty gruelling climbs and fun downhills.

Some of the lakes part of the Great Rift Valley, and our route since Sudan (I write this from Kigali, Rwanda)

The Ethiopian, Kenyan and Tanzanian parts of the Great Rift Valley are particularly famous for the fossil finds of the ancestors of hominids. Hominids are the family of Great Apes which includes humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, and the archaeological finds have been vital at putting together the puzzle pieces of human evolution. Perhaps the most well known of all these finds is “Lucy”, and we got to see her in the ‘flesh’ at the museum! The 40% of her fossilised bones that were discovered lay quite inconspicuously in a glass case in the museum, she was barely 1m tall. She was given her name after the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was played on repeat on the first day of excavation. Her Amharic name (the official language of Ethiopia) is “Dinkinesh” meaning “you are marvellous”.

I found the bottom floor pre-historic exhibition most intriguing, but the other floors contained more very interesting modern history, too much to go into depth here. Ethiopia had some of the most ancient civilisations in Africa, with the first kingdom rising to power in 10th century BC. The exhibitions explained the arrivals of different religions (first Christianity in the 4th century AD, then Islam in the 6th century AD) and the rise and fall of various civilisations. The upper floors contained Ethiopian artworks, as well as an ethnographic exhibition.

The history of Ethiopia is fascinating, buuuut we were also a bit apprehensive about cycling in the country because we had heard from quite a few other travellers, particularly cyclists, that it was the most challenging country for them to travel in. The main reason for this was the very high population density (which made the experience socially exhausting and challenging), and the problem of children throwing stones at them. That seemed to be a cultural thing, where parents often disciplined their children by throwing small stones at them, and children herded their goats, sheep and cattle by throwing stones at them. But we were also hopeful; we had been told that by engaging with the children, they might hold back their punches. And, we would be cycling along the lush Rooftop of Africa.

The trees here were spectacular!

The first day on the road was tough, as it always is after some days break; we had spent 10 days in Khartoum and another 5 in Addis. Emma was still feeling the tiring after-effects of the Malaria, and we were tasting what the rest of Ethiopian terrain would be like: constant steep hills. Addis was quite huge, and leaving it was chaotic but finally we hit the villages and a bit more countryside. We had been concerned about some of the inter-tribal conflict that was going on, as we would be travelling through some regions which were affected, but after we passed through a few police checkpoints without any problems we felt more relaxed. As we started passing through more rural areas, we would hear more and more incessant calls of ‘Farenj Farenj’, ‘China China’, Money Money Money’ and ‘You You You’. Each of these had their own flavours and variations, and we would come to despise some, laugh at some and ignore others as we passed through more of Ethiopia and got to understand their meanings. At first, we though ‘Farenj’ was derived from ‘Foreigner’, but we later established that it came from the word ‘French’. Some French ‘explorers’ were the first white people that were seen in Ethiopia, and thus that name stuck like glue to all pale skinned creatures that would pass through the country. ‘China’, therefore, was a telling new addition to the arsenal of greetings. There were evidently many Chinese people who were working and living in the country (presumably many of whom were working on large-scale infrastructure projects), although strangely we didn’t see a single Chinese person the whole time we were in the country. A funny example of this new identity of ours was later on in the trip when we camped in someone’s back yard and there was a huge language barrier. Later in the evening, when some of the older teenagers from the area came to inspect our campsite, we established that they were having quite a serious conversation with our host about whether we were actually Chinese or not.

‘Money Money Money’, accompanied by an outstretched hand, would at different times bother us to different extents. We decided we would not be giving anything to anyone; if we did, even if we gave 1 Birr to everyone who asked, we would be broke by the end of day 2. Also, we did not want to perpetuate the perception that foreigners just give out money. Firstly, we thought that this had a strange effect on the people themselves, immediately placing themselves in a position of inferiority to the visitor. Secondly, it creates a particular relationship of giving and receiving between visitor and local, which limits the possibility of other forms of relationship and mutual benefit and learning. We still haven’t quite figured this one out, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer. Would be interested to hear any opinions on this.

On our first night, we were pleasantly surprised to be able to camp alone off a side road. We asked permission from someone who seemed to be living there, and it was okay. The only visitors we had were a big herd of goats, a herd of cows, and their respective friendly herders. We got to bed early because there was a big downpour in the early evening. The next night we had no option of wild camping, and so went quite far down a side road, until we found a friendly looking farmer, who after some confusion understood that we would like to set up tent for a night in his yard. He was more than happy to have us there, and we shared the yard with 6 cows, 2 cute baby goats who kept jumping up on the small table he brought out for us, and 2 dogs. There seemed to be an open gate policy, as we had various curious neighbours watching our tent-setting-up and cooking processes, which both us and them found quite funny. Our multi-fuel stove stopped working at that point, so we ate some half-cooked rice for dinner.

Emma cooking with an audience, just before our MSR Dragonfly gave up on us temporarily

My hydraulic brakes were also still giving me trouble; I would cycle all the way from Addis to Nairobi (about 1600km), on some of the steepest hills we had encountered so far, with no back brakes and only a semi-functional front brake. Our strategy was that I would just go in front on the downhills so that I wouldn’t crash into Emma if the brakes failed completely, and so that I could see and avoid as many potholes and bumps as possible. The next evening after 84km with many, many hills, we finally found a spot that wasn’t hugely populated and asked a lady if we could sleep in her back yard. We were quite exhausted after the day; to give an idea, when we stopped to buy water, we immediately had no less than 50 people crowded closely around our bikes. After many attempts at explaining to our host what we would like to do, we got the feeling that it was okay for us to sleep there. Every part of the camp set-up was done under intense observation by the 15 or so kids from the neighbourhood, including vegetable chopping, teeth brushing, blowing up mattresses (big hit) and washing dishes. Same thing next morning; bright and early reality show entertainment!

Beautiful sunrise before the spectator sports began again!

It is difficult to describe, as we enjoyed the interactions a lot, while at the same time were incredibly worn down by them. We learnt a lot about how foreign our whole way of living must be for the people we were meeting, as well as how different their lives are to ours. We were offered places to sleep in the main hut, and smoky sweet tea, and we learnt about the ways that parents and older children discipline the younger children: often by throwing small stones at them or breaking off branches from thorn trees and hitting them lightly with these spiky branches. These were strange and difficult things to work out, as some went strongly against what we would consider normal values. I imagined our perception of normality to be like an elastic band which was being stretched in different directions throughout our trip, shaped by the people we met along the way and their cultural norms. I noticed that sometimes, when exposed to more ‘familiar’ lifestyles online such as friends or acquaintances from South Africa or Europe, they would seem increasingly foreign and some things quite bizarre. More so with acquaintances than friends, because I think both Emma and I have open-minded and thoughtful friends.

We missed wild camping (also known as stealth camping), as we had mostly been doing effortlessly in Sudan. This just means finding a piece of ground to set up your tent on for the night, without paying. The legalities and social attitudes towards the idea are different in different countries, but most often (and the best way to do so) is to set up on public land, not private land. Some things to consider are wind shelter (important for comfort), water access (if staying for multiple nights), wildlife (in some parts of the world), how flat the ground is and if there is a clearing of bush big enough for our 2 tents, and importantly how densely populated the area is. This affects how likely you are to attract attention; sometimes being found by locals is completely fine, other times it can mean having to pack up camp e.g. Egypt, plus getting reported to police.

There are a few reasons we try to wild camp as much as possible. Firstly, it saves money. Staying at paid-for accommodation can easily cost us half of our daily budget, even if its a campsite or the cheapest guest house available. We are trying to spend on average 5-10 Euros per person per day, and this becomes challenging if you have to pay 5 Euros for lodging. Secondly, it allows us to sleep in some quite incredible and unusual places. In Greece, for example, we spent 4 nights wild camping on a barely inhabited island over New Years, on the top of a hill overlooking the ocean, olive groves and some other islands. If any hotel or lodge had been in this incredible location, it would have been super luxurious and expensive, and yet we had the whole place completely to ourselves. Third, it allows us some privacy and down time from being the centre of attention after a long day. Our way of travelling is quite unusual (particularly in African countries, as bicycle touring is relatively common in many European countries), and combined with the fact that we have a strange coloured skin, we tend to attract a lot of attention. To varying degrees, this means an overflow of greetings, questions, stares, excitement, shouts, hooting from vehicles and conversation. We found particularly in Ethiopia, that this can become quite overwhelming when combined with athletic children running next to you for multiple kilometres asking for money while you are sweating your brains out on a never ending uphill.

So, to find a hidden away spot in nature for the quiet evening can be a much needed psychological and social relief. If done successfully, one goes undetected when finding a wild camping spot. Another reason that we enjoy it is that it makes us much more flexible and less bound to a particular destination such as a campsite for the night. This is the case only when there are good opportunities to actually do so; in Egypt we had a few days where we were forced to go a lot further than we otherwise would have, to be able to squeeze ourselves into the only available natural space for kilometres around (Google Earth is a very useful tool for finding these spaces). Also, camping is not really part of the culture in North Africa; the first actual campsite we stayed at was in Southern Ethiopia, and we couldn’t afford to stay in hotels, so wild camping was also a necessity sometimes. The last reason we really enjoy it is because it allows us to fully embrace being independent. Once we are stocked up on some groceries and most importantly water, we can unpack from our bags our home for the night; and this can be relatively sustainable in the medium run, our record was 17 consecutive days in Greece. Which is just kind of a cool feeling.

Wild camping allows one to stay over at incredible locations

We spent another night setting up and setting down camp under the supervision of 20 or so children, but then finally we found a spot with less people the next night and where able to push off into the bush undetected. We had been losing quite a lot of altitude cycling South from the Highlands, and had been noticing the environment changing drastically. Where we camped that night was very dry. For the past days we had seen clouds accumulating and threatening, but never releasing their contents. The ground down here in Southern Ethiopia was in need of rain, and we had been hearing about the years long drought affecting the area. We set up on rocky ground that night, which we would regret deep into the night as the rocks released their soaked up heat into our tents, and even sleeping completely naked meant sweating the whole night through. In the evening, we had heard the nostalgic sound of baboons barking in the nearby hills for the first time on our trip, and that night we also heard some very loud strange grunting or barking noises which was kind of freaky, followed by heavy hoofsteps (is that a word?) and breathing close to our tents. Only the next day did we realise that this must have been the endangered species of Hartebeest that lived in the area. Despite the high population density in Ethiopia, the country seemed to be teeming with much more wildlife than we had experienced anywhere previously on our trip. The birdlife was crazy, we came across many species for the first time in our lives, and others which we had previously witnessed such as the haunting cry of the Fish Eagle and the fabulous looking Maribou Stork. Even the Starlings here were spectacularly colourful (Google the Superb Starling). We also saw our first crocodile the next day in the lake we were passing by, and a tree packed full of vultures a few days later.

'Stealth' camping

Fisheagles, we would hear their cries regularly from here Southwards

We noticed that most farms here were subsistence farms; small in size but often with many different crops growing together as contrasted to the often huge monocultural farms which are more common in the parts of South Africa that we know and much of Europe. As we travelled, we also started noticing changes in the style of houses that we passed, the architectural designs as well as the beautifully patterned painted exteriors. We noticed differences in greetings (further South the common greeting was ‘Okay, Okay, Okay’ for some reason), and in the people themselves as we passed through different tribal lands. We would remark many times how beautiful the Ethiopian people were with their fine features. One memorable moment was when we were pulled over by a beaming policeman, who only wanted to say ‘I love you, I love you!’ and then wave us on our way. We had to giggle at the thought of a German policeman doing the same! Ethiopians have many domesticated animals, the most we had seen so far, and throughout much of the day we would be zigzagging through small herds of goats and cows, and donkeys loaded up with yellow jerry cans of water. Donkeys here do the heavy lifting.

We got into a routine of buying ourselves lunch from small village restaurants. We worked out that this was actually cheaper than cooking our own food, and it was delicious and a good place to take a break in the middle of the day. With the hotter weather, we also couldn’t rely as much on our usual leftover dinner still being good by lunchtime the next day; it was more than once that we gulped down some slightly sketchy tasting and slightly bubbly lentils and rice because we didn’t want to waste the food. Our stomachs were pretty good at handling this kind of thing by now, but a downside was that we were put off some particular foods for quite a while after these episodes of fizzy leftovers; to this day we are carrying around a small bag of untouched coriander seeds because of some quite strong negative associations we hold.

Anyway, we took to ordering a variety of Ethiopian food at small village restaurants, followed by a coffee. This solid meal and quality coffee would normally cost us the equivalent of 2 Euros for the both of us! We had been passing very fertile land in Ethiopia, and were in the middle of banana harvesting season (they are picked green), as well as mango and some papayas. We saw many trucks and motorbikes filled to the brim with green bananas, covered in banana leaves to keep them fresh. We learnt that these truck drivers would often travel long distances with their loads and would rely on chewing Khat to keep them awake and focussed. The psychoactive leaves were for sale everywhere, so I tried some on a rest-day. I was quite disappointed because after chewing the bitter leaves for almost 3 hours (as one is supposed to do to feel the effect), I felt nothing except for bitterness and a bright green, slightly numb tongue.

Good downhill stretches in Southern Ethiopia

We made it to Arba Minch (meaning 40 Springs), which was the intermediate goal we had set for ourselves, and spent 3 nights at a newly opened eco campsite. Wonde, the owner, told us about how much hassle he had to go through to convince the local authorities of his concept in order to get the building permit, as fancy resorts and lodges were the only languages of tourism spoken here. We learnt much about Ethiopian history from Wonde. Particularly interesting to me were the international ties that Ethiopia had made over the years. I would not be able to factually accurately summarise here without much more in-depth research, but the basis is accurate. One interesting story and tie to modern day Israel, for example was that Makeda, the Queen of Sheba had travelled there and had a romantic affair with King Solomon. She then gave birth to a son called Menelik I. There has been a link to Judaism ever since, and many Ethiopians Jews now live in Israel. They do, however, often return to Ethiopia because of the better quality of living here. King Haille Selassie (Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-1974), perhaps the best known Ethiopian of all time, is claimed to be a direct descendant of this bloodline of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. Selassie’s other given name was Ras Tafari Makonnen, and his coronation in Ethiopia was highly significant to the Rastafarian people. He was worshipped as God incarnate in the Rastafarian religion, as the Messiah who would lead the people of Africa and the African Diaspora to freedom. There is a village in Ethiopia called Shashamane where a large community of Rastafarians live; Haille Selassie had granted 500 hectares of land to people of African descent particularly from the USA and the Carribean.

80% of Ethiopians are Christians, but there is also a minority of Muslims living in the country. When Muslims were being persecuted abroad, they were welcomed and given refuge in Ethiopia which was then called Abyssinia, and is referenced as such in the Quran. Ethiopia is also the only country in Africa that was never properly colonised. The Italians had a stint, and were semi successful in that they controlled some of the country for a period of 6 years before they were defeated and kicked out again. We only made the connection quite late on in our visit as to why a common greeting was ‘Ciao’, and why there was sometimes spaghetti on the Njera. The headquarters of the African Union are also located in Addis Ababa (being built and funded by the Chinese).

Some explicit camel content

When we left Arba Minch, we had to take a rough dirt stretch for 30kms of our way. This was probably the toughest day we had in Ethiopia, particularly because it was boiling hot and humid. On this dirt section, we couldn’t go very fast because of the hills and the bumps, and this meant that we were easy pickings for the local children. When passing through some villages, we started getting a lot of attention, especially when passing schools. Word would spread and soon we had more than 100 children running after and all around us, shouting and screaming for money and also just out of excitement. They took Emma’s helmet off her bike (but then gave it back to her when she stopped and told them off), and started pulling on our bikes and bags and holding Emma’s brakes. We could not even communicate with one another because of the noise and the focus required just to keep going without falling off our bikes, but agreed to just try shut it out and push on. They followed us for about 5kms, and stole both of our South African flags (which in hindsight must have been a very tempting target). We were extremely grateful when a man stopped the entire crowd dead in its tracks by shouting at them and picking up a stone. We had been hoping to find a wild camping spot later on in the day, but the green area we had seen on Google Maps turned out still to be densely populated. We just had to push on through the last 20kms until we reached Konso, which was right at the top of an endless hill. We found a cheap hotel and were very happy for the bed after the 100km day with about 800m of climbing.

The next morning, after fixing a flat tyre, we were approached by a man who was a cyclist but was also running a government-funded medical centre in the town. He showed us around the operation, which effectively treated 15.000 patients over a 5 day period every few months. The most common treatment was eye surgery for elderly people, but they offered everything from dentistry to pedaetrics to malnutrition advice. We were left with a positive memory of Konso, and this was a good illustration and reminder of how starkly up and down our days could be while travelling, after yesterday’s rather shit experience with the children. As we were leaving, a few big drops of rain fell, which was cause for celebration, as we had been told that these days water was like gold in Southern Ethiopia. He also told us that the Borena region (which we would be passing through in the coming days) used to be the richest region in the country in terms of cattle wealth (wealth here is often indirectly measured through the number of cattle people own). But in the last 3 years over 3 million cattle had died from the drought and cattle feed was being trucked in from much further North at huge expense just to keep the remaining cattle from starving. We would see many of the dead next to the road in the coming days.

Rain threatening

Quiet spot in the dry South

Red earth and grey skies

Despite the drought, we found the next leg of our trip quite beautiful and refreshing. We were able to wild camp a few times because there was a lower population density (once under a big thorntree next to a dried up Zebra), and stayed in some cheap hotel rooms a few times. Piped water was no longer a thing here, and the hotel’s bathroom water supply consisted of 2 buckets of water for showering, flushing toilets, basin and washing up. The earth was parched, scorched and thirsty. On our way from the small town of Mega to Moyale (the Kenyan border town), we were lucky enough to witness the first rains in 3 full years. The clouds had been threatening for days now, but finally they delivered. And they delivered. We cycled an entire day of 85kms through bucketing down rain. We could see it coming in big waves towards us, solid curtains of water. The section next to the roads turned into chocolate brown rivers, gathering high speed on the downhills, and the donkeys and goats looked terribly sorry for themselves and huddled under any form of shelter they could find. People looked happy, and despite our assumption that many of the mud houses would be at risk of water damage, people smiled at us and looked excited. We just hoped the ground could soak up all this water without it causing major erosion. We barely stoped that day because of the rain, but when we made it to Moyale a friendly Ethiopian man bought us lunch at a restaurant before we crossed over into Kenya to find a strongly Christian guest house to sleep at. We were exhausted, soaked completely through, but happy. We even treated ourselves to a good Kenyan meal at a restaurant which was delicious.

Soaked through, but happy to be here in Moyale at the Kenyan border!

Finally, the rains came on our last day in Ethiopia

Ethiopia had been a very intense experience for us, which is perhaps why I have struggled to write about it; there was just so much that happened that was difficult to put into words. It had been extremely stimulating to all the senses, in both positive and negative ways. Overall it was certainly a positive experience, and we were in fact pleasantly surprised by our interactions with people there, given the bad rep it had received from other cyclists. We learnt a lot about ourselves and our ability to handle different situations, and about this country which had occupied a fair amount of mind space before visiting it, and the totality of our mind spaces while visiting it. We were very relieved to be in Kenya, but would not have skipped travelling through Ethiopia if we had the chance to go back in time.

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Karin Duncker
Karin Duncker
05 Haz 2023

Hi Oskar and Emma,

love readying your blogs and I hope you will eventually write a cyclers guide Africa. Goodness what amazing encounters and adventures you have. So my one little wish is that you show us a map of what you have already cycled. This way I don't need to google Africa maps to see where on earth you are. 😉

Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

Hi Karin, thanks for the comment! We feel honoured that you think we could write a cyclists guide, but we are experiencing such a tiny portion of this continent that it would probably require a lifetime of pedalling to get anywhere close to a comprehensive guide! Thanks also for the suggestion about the map. I have done a bit of research as to which kind of interactive maps we could embed in the website, and I have settled for a not-so-interactive option (due to my technical limits), which I have put in the 'Map & Vision' page on our website. It is not incredibly detailed or accurate, but I think it gives a good rough overview. Let me know what…

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