Subdued

ay 41, stage 31, 110km

Start, Addis Ababa

Finish, Gogetti Camp

 

I was up early in the morning and out of the hose before anybody else was up. I went out onto the street and found a taxi around 6am. It was still dark. It had taken about 45 minutes to get to Morag and Malcolm’s when I arrived a couple of days before. This morning it took about 20 minutes to get back to the golf club. The most difficult part of it was explaining to the taxi driver where I wanted to go. I started by saying the golf course. This made no impact at all. It was only when I said golf club that the connection was made and we were off. It is like ordering something in a restaurant. You cannot ask for spaghetti bolognaise, you have to ask for spaghetti and meat. Not meat sauce, or tomato and meat sauce. You have to give them exactly the right verbal clue, without variation.

 

While we had come into Addis in convoy, we left individually with some rather complex directions to follow out of town. But we made it. It was not a tough day. But it was still hilly. The kids were still very bad – rocks, sticks, slaps, spitting. And they are constantly yelling: “you, you, you; money, money, money’ at the top of their voices in an almost hysterical way. They run after you for hundreds of metres. It is very unpleasant and for some intimidating.

We camped in a farm on cracked earth. Hard to find a good spot to pitch a tent. But we managed. As in most camps some local entrepreneurs showed up shortly after we arrived with crates of soft drinks and beers. In spite of the fact that the drinks are usually warm and double the price you would pay in any shop (camp price) they are very welcome and sell quickly.

Many people are still ill. Illness seems to be more prevalent in Ethiopia than in the Sudan or Egypt. I think it is probably that people are just a little more run down and susceptible. Although I have not been ill yet I am feeling more and more run down. I am finding that I never feel fully recovered, even after a rest day, and that I am never at 100%. My legs are still willing to come out to play and can still make the running but they don’t have that fresh snap to them.

Camp is a little subdued this evening. Everyone knows that this was only the first of six consecutive days of riding, that there would be lots more hills, lots more kids with stones and that the last three days would be off road. People are already saying they will be glad when we are out of Ethiopia. Staff try hard to jolly people on. They almost all say that Ethiopia is their favorite country. We all wonder how they have come to this conclusion. While the landscape is fantastic and the parts of the country we have travelled through re very fertile (it is also harvest season) the aggressive kids and casual acceptance of violence have soured it for many.

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