Roadside photograph of motorbikes looking over Ethiopian mountains

Ethiopia

Hi there!

Well, since my last posting, we discovered that Kim’s wrist was in fact fractured. Our very kind host in Khartoum (Abdelsalam a.k.a. “Mr. President“) is very well connected and one of his friends was a doctor; who just happened to be in the workshop when we turned up, he quickly identified from the X-Rays that she had a fine hairline fracture. He suggested a 3-4 week rest in a cast.

In the great scheme of things, it meant that we no longer could hold back and wait for her wrist to get better. By we, I mean: Craig, Cam, Ed and I. Dave & Stef are on a different time-scale trip and said they’d hold back, as they were waiting on a friend still in Egypt. Meanwhile, in Mr President’s workshop, the men were compiling a bike transporter to fit on the back of the Landrover.

Anyhow, the four of us are now officially in Ethiopia and that’s a whole different story. From Khartoum to the Ethiopian border is roughly 600km, and we successfully covered 500 of those in one day. This morning however, we managed to do the remaining 100 by 9:30. This is where the games begun; firstly our fixer who was very friendly (by the name of Getch or something similar), got us to do all the ups, downs, lefts, rights of getting out of Sudan, across the bridge into Ethiopia he lead us to the passport control, but shortly after that he disappeared. From the passport control the locals pointed us in the direction of the customs, but this is where things got tricky, and let it not be said we were warned about this in advanced. Dylan the Swiss guy from Khartoum did mention quite explicitly and repeatedly about this and arrogantly I shrugged it off and carried on.

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So, the complication arises with the customs not accepting a Carnet de Passage, despite the Carnet de Passage clearly stating that Ethiopia is covered. The customs in turn require either a 35000-50000 Bir deposit, or a letter from our respective Embassy stating our vehicles are guaranteed to enter the country. The long and the short of it; us brits got ours quite quickly, the kiwis who sadly don’t have an embassy in Ethiopia got a little screwed over, especially given that lunch time fell the time they were trying to get in touch with Australia, Canada and G.B. embassies. I did what I could, by forging on photoshop a copy of the letter Ed and I received from the British embassy, but by this point the customs were already working a different angle: $200 US each to make the problem go away. After much reasoning this was taken down to $50, but suffice to say it was totally unnecessary. We ended up leaving the border at 15:45 after arriving at 9:30. Woot what fun!!

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So back to the here and NOW, I’m currently eagerly typing away this blog post on a rocky bit of Ethiopian highlands inside my tent next to the road side. Let’s not point any fingers here but riding at night never is a good excuse, even if you REEAAALLLY want to get to a name on the map for the sake of saying you got there… and we’re here because now, because Ed has a flat tyre after riding over a large rock. I guess it could be worse….the puncture could have been mine (and I don’t have any tools).

Anyhow, crossing the border was like entering a different world, the desert ended, the mountains started and the temperature has now finally dropped.. I’m cozy inside my sleeping bag feeling a little chilly, it’s bliss! We’ve been in a desert landscape since Alexandria a month ago suffering heats exceeding 30 degrees at night, it’s finally nice to be somewhere fresh and green.

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