this is for the incorrigible steve h.
Adi warned me that from here on in bus departures were going to be really early. Practically, it's suppose allow the maximum amount of driving in daylight hours. I can't argue with that. Most long distance routes are just outrageous marathons.
Got up at 0430 filled with dread. I didn't have a ticket and I heard stories of the infamous bus yard stampedes. A huge crowd is supposed to gather around the gates. The instant the gates are flung open, chaos reigns and everyone sprints towards their intended bus. I was a little late this morning and missed the mayhem. Everything seemed calm and orderly when I got to the yards. Fortunately, there were 2 buses headed to Addis this morning. I got shunted to a shorter bus. 8 birr more. Nickel and dimed again. Despite waking up so early, the bus didn't move till 0630.
There was a last minute group of bicyclists from the Czech Republic. Most of them had to sit in the aisle but I gave my seat up a really beautiful biker from Prague. She spoke perfect English. She said this biking thing was an annual group thing. Hell, who cares? She had the most amazing eyes. Really dark eyes. Mesmerizing. We talked for the longest time about the Czech Republic then about Canada. Four hours later, I think, we reached Shashemene. The bikers departed. I watched her fade from view...as we carried on towards Addis.
I originally wanted to visit the Rastafarians of Shashemene. I wanted to buy a Bob Marley T-shirt just to say I was there. I had to move on. Besides, I heard the town was riddled with wasted rastas mugging tourists, taking their money to support their wasted habits.
The way was beautiful, matched by the condition of the road. The scenery was flat as we went from one pretty Rift valley lake to another.
As the bus approached Addis, we gained altitude. [ed. note: Addis is located on Ethiopia's central highlands at an altitude of 2400m.] The refreshing cool air mixed with the hot humid air in the bus making it so much more bearable.
The city was huge. The road in was choked with traffic. I had befriended an Addis resident on the bus. We got off in front of an enormous stadium. From there he fixed me up with a taxi driver that would take me to the Piazza area and my hotel of choice, the Baro. It was booked. So, I checked into the Wutma, another backpacker haven across the street. 80 birr per night!! I had it cheap down south.
I took a hot shower. The first in over half a week. Then I hit the internet to report in. While I was in the cafe, Tom, the English border jumper walked in! Incredible. I thought he was long gone. The news was 1) he has to appear in court. He's hoping for just a fine (could be 500 USD) but not do the time and 2) Anna and Jeremy got married yesterday, Coptic-style. Hell, I could have videotaped it for them if I had known.
I hopped over to the Baro Hotel (my original choice) after supper. There they were, Anna and Jeremy drinking on the patio. I congratulated them on their marriage. They put on a slide show of their wedding day. Beauty. Man, they were some kind of wacky. I liked that.
Out of Canuckistan: A travel blog, Mar 25/07
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