Road construction Ethiopian style. Apparently, the Chinese have a hand in alot of the road construction taking place in Ethiopia. They just need to put in a few restaurants and laundries now.
It's not good when traffic gets stuck in the construction site. It's readily apparent watching trucks being unstuck is a popular national spectator sport.
The way to Lalibela was just up...
and way up...
Fields of tef. Tef flour is the key ingredient of injera. Fair to say that injera, a flat bread, is the raison d'etre for which all Ethiopian dishes are based. Take away injera from the Ethiopian diet leaves you with only a bunch of hot sauce. I'm exaggerating. My favourite dish was firfir: injera wrapped in injera drenched with hot sauce. mmm...take me home to Ethiopia.
Looking through the cockpit of the bus... decor was kind of frilly, eh...? don't tell that to the driver.
Did I already say the bus kept going up and up? Well, we topped out on this vast plateau. Then the bus broke down. Something about leaking brake fluid. Yikes...
Try to spot Jesse the Aussie... We got to socialize outside while the driver tried to MacGiver a solution. The Ethiopian dudes and dudettes on buses were real nice folks. Always shared snacks with us.
Had a lot of fun at the bus races this morning. Me and Jesse got up and looked out the window to see a crowd of about 200 people jammed up against the bus yard gates. Packed up real fast and we waded into the sea of people. We came up with a plan and that was summed up in one word: run. Run like the wind. Stay on our feet. Do not get trampled. Difficult in practice because it was only 0400 and dark out (save the 4 bare light bulbs illuminating the yard). We were amongst the first to find the bus. That wasn't too bad...
The drive again was through brilliant scenery. More mountain passes, cliff hugging roads, and a good bit of bleakness, particularly around Lalibela. Ethiopia must be the cat's ass in terms of African beauty. My camera skills could not possibly capture it. Most of day, the bus struggled to gain a vast bleak plateau. There we suffered our first mechanical problem. Normally, it would be really irritating, but we all had to pile out, giving us time to take in the bleakness.
We arrived in Lalibela at about 1600. For the life of me, I don't understand why we ended up in a hotel that was at least 3 km and downhill from the bus station. It's going to be a helluva time getting out of here.
Walking through town opened my eyes. Lalibela, because of it's collection of churches, is a tourist town. It's a little more prosperous. But, the hassling is, say, above average. One kid wanted money for a soccer ball. I said no. The kid pointed to the tears streaming down his face. It's too bad...
[ed. note: i gave out a record amount of money on this trip. i usually give money to really old people and people with physical disabilities. i figure there is absolutely no social safety net here and these groups have it the roughest.]
Tomorrow it's off to the churches and probably more hassling. Should be exciting since Easter is approaching.
Out of Canuckistan: A travel blog, Apr 5/07
Buy Bubba a Beer Now!