Across Lake Tana - Ethiopia
Just arrived in Bahir Dar having crossed Lake Tana in a small cargo boat. And yes, it is the boat pictured above. Luxury travel it is not but it surficed and I loved that boat ride.
The boat leaves Gorgora every thursday at around 06:30 for the 2 day trip down to Bahir Dar stopping at a few villages en route and breaking for the night in Konzula which is where I spent New Years Eve. I had been the only foreigner on the boat, which suited me just fine.
The captain had told me that there were many hotels to be found along the main street, and I should pay 50Birr a night. But being the white guy and obviously an ATM ON LEGS from a land where money does indeed grow on trees, I was directed to the only place in town with a sign saying 'hotel'. Faranji price was 100Birr but the materess was new, still in its plastic which would reduce bed bug inmates and the toilet whilst being super super basic, was clean.
I set up the mozzie net and sat down in the attatched retaurant and ordered a beer and some Injera. They are pretty stupid here. Ethiopians cant understand shit. I say St. George and hold up one finger, I say Injera and hold up one finger. The beer arrives. It's nice and cold! Other people who arrived after me are served their Injera. I enquire about mine with a guy who had spoken english. So he relays my order and the Injera Combination arrives tout suite . A few nice salad side dishes to go with the tasteless injera bread. I manage to eat half of it, an accomlishment in itself and wash it down with another beer.
I hit the street and am greeted with 'You-You', 'Hello pen' and 'Hello money'. I hate this. I reply with 'You-You' which confuses them cos they are used to white dumb fucks handing over money and pens just like candy. I stick my tongue out and blow raspberries which they love.
A young woman, baby on hip, motions that she wants money for food for her baby and I motion back that her boobs were big enough for her to be feeding her kid, which she thought was hilarious and walked off, still laughing to herself.
An old woman, standing in the middle of the car less street, shouting her head off to no one. Another woman walks by, smiles at me and motions with her finger, pointing at her temple that the old woman had lost her mind.
In Bahir Dar, I get a mail from a friend I met back in Aswan asking me if I was going to Lalibela and the infamous Rock Hewn chuches.
A short while ago the price for us Faranji was increased 600 fold to 50$. The money goes directly into the priests pockets. I do not support such activity even if these churches are the ultimate highlight of Ethiopia. Had the ticket been 20bucks I would have quite happily gone. 50 is taking the piss. There are many hungry people here in Ethiopia, many beggars, even some are genuine, these priests are as about as religious as my little finger.
Oh, did you know there are places in Addis where you can hire a baby? yes, no kidding, where you can make idiot tourists feel really sorry for you??
There are some other churches in the far north east where you need to climb a rope to reach them. The priests have a habit of removing the ropes and demanding a nice little, no, BIG present in order to be let down again. Scum, absloute scum. The people in Ethiopia are in my view, worse than the ones in Vietnam and I had never thought that would ever be possible.
Any ways, this part of my travels is more about the journey. Rough and ready travels, sites and experiences, good or bad, along the way. In Zanzibar I will be a tourist again, promise!!
Back in Gorgora I had met a Brazilian lady who was working with Doctors without Borders, up near the Eritrean border. They issue mozzie nets but the women getting married would make veils from the white netting. They changed the colour of the donated nets to blue. The people are really stupid. They are also known to sell the nets. Perhaps dying of malaria is a nicer dream than living in a refugee camp.
Back to my New Years Eve in Konzula, After my walk about I go back to the restaurant and order a beer. 30Birr they wanna charge me. Before, dinner and 2 beers had cost me 40. Now they wanted 30 for just 1 beer. I stood my ground, trying not to get pissed off. The girl called a man over. So why was the beer so pricey? I said that the beer should be around 13. Having been given 70 back from 100 I then get the difference given to me. Even in her own language she had got confused with 30 and 13 cos I heard her laughing and blabbering in her own language with the words for 13 and 30 in English thrown in for good measure.. What to do when they go to school for 1 hour per week??
The captain of the boat was a good guy. Pretty good english and he would search me out at each stop and tell me how long we would be stopping for. For some reason the longer stop on Dek island did not happen. I had time to drink a tea before we headed off again.
I was in bed at 9pm. They have a different calander here so it was only New Years Eve for me and I did not really care. I was dead to the world, long before the clock struck midnight.
The road ahead looms. Having ummmed and rrrred as to whether I would go to Zanzibar or head west to take the ferry down Lake Tanjanika, I decided I would do both.
Going to the east coast meant I would cross to Tanzania at Namanga where I could get the VISA ON ARRIVAL, the only land border crossing from Kenya where you could officially get a VOA. And this suited me well enough. I would only need to stay in Addis long enough to secure the Kenyan visa and I would get to see Zanzibar. Even the name sounds exotic and conjurs up so many wild fantasies of a forbidden land.
So tomorrow, I should be on the bus to Addis. First job on Tuesday morning is to visit the Kenyan embassy. Some time this week is the orthodox christmas and I have no idea if the embassy will be closed. I hope they don't shut down for a week but then I have gotten used to waiting and I am, afterall, by trade, when I am not on the road, a waiter.
From Addis to the border can be done in 2 days. Buses do not travel at night here but I will stop at a few places enroute. Once in Moyale, cross to Kenya and ride a truck, as there are no buses yet for as far as needed, to Isiolo where I hope I can get to Maralal and up to the shores of Lake Turkana. When does the wet season start?? The road is ultra bad and impassable in the wet season. No need to stop in Nairobi, head as fast as poss to the border with Tanzania and to Dar es Salaam and cross to Zanzibar.
Once back in Dar, take the twice weekly train for 36hours+ to Kigoma and wait for the twice monthly, 4 day 3 night ride down Lake Tanjanika, getting off at the stop just before the Zambian border and then continue to Mbeya and pick up a VOA for Malawi (required now since October 2015). Then I hope to get to Mozambique but VOAs are officially only possible for those who do not have a representative in their own country. The UK of course does have one but I tell my self as I do at least 10 times a day, that This Is Africa. TIA. If not, there are 2 places to get in Malawi. The embassy in Lilongwe or the consulate in Blantyre. Failing that, there are a few more border crossings available. From Mozambique I want to head along the coast to Maputo and then via, Swaziland and Lesotho, directly to Cape Town.