Saturday, December 5, 2009

Random Lagu Story

I wasn't able to visit Sudan on this cycling trip, but I have been there in the past, to visit my brother. At the time, he was working for Samaritan's Purse setting up schools. While I was there I shared a tukal (room) with Lagu, the famous Sudanese mountain climber.

Anyway, Lagu is in Uganda these days. It was good to see him. This picture was taken on Christmas last year. This is a story that he told me.

There is a stream near the Samaritan's Purse compound in Sudan. When I was there it was dry, but during the rainy season it has a couple feet of water.

Once during the rains, a truck arrived at the banks of the stream. The driver had his assistant get out and test the water. They decided it wasn't too deep. Unfortunately, the thing they didn't consider was that the bottom of the stream was just drifting sand. They were soon very stuck.

They worked all afternoon but couldn't move. In the evening, they decided to give up for the night and use the Samaritan's Purse/Community tractor to pull them out in the morning.

The next day Lagu happened to pass by the stream in the course of his morning activities. The truck had fallen on its side and sunk into the sand. Only little bit was sticking out above the water.

The tractor crew tended to sleep late and by the time they got out of bed and down to the stream, the truck was completely submerged. It took them a while to find it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I've changed the name and picture in this story for privacy.

Henok and I met Lebna the evening we arrived in Bahir Dar. We were drinking coffee by the lake and he came with his friends to talk to us. He was in grade six. He spoke English well. He was getting special tutoring from an American organization that helps orphans. He wanted to be a doctor when he grew up. You could see he was exceptionally bright.

We weren't expecting him, but the next morning Lebna was waiting at the door of our hotel. Apparently he went to school in the afternoons and anyway he says, "Today is Saturday." So we took him with us to breakfast. We stayed in Bahir Dar for quite a few days and got to know Lebna pretty well.

After breakfast he asks can he have $10 because he wants to buy an Oxford Dictionary.

When you are cycling through Ethiopia, probably one person per kilometer will ask you to give them something. Mostly it's kids, but sometimes it is people with real needs and I wish I could give them something. I never do. I said no to over a thousand people per month while I was there.

But the Oxford Dictionary idea was unique and charming so I said, "How about this? You can earn some money. Henok and I are going to Gondar. We want to store some luggage here and pick it up on our way back. We'll pay you a dollar per day to keep it for us."

The next morning a disappointed Lebna tells us that he can't store our stuff. His mother refused. "She says that our house is not secure enough and if thieves found out we had your luggage they could kill us."

He also admitted that the story about the Oxford Dictionary wasn't true. The truth is that he was really asking for the money for his mom. She has HIV and needs money for treatment. He was afraid to tell us because of the HIV stigma.

I consider myself pretty progressive, but the truth is that if he had told me the truth at the beginning I probably wouldn't have agreed to help him in the first place. I liked the Oxford Dictionary story. It was charming. It was solvable. A one time gift of ten bucks. Done.

HIV is a heavy thing, I don't know how to handle it. I especially don't know how to handle it when you are twelve years old. When your dad has died. When your mom is sick.

Lebna lived in a shanty town. The house was small. There was a sitting room in the front. He and his mom shared the bedroom in the back. They had a television in the bed room. Some evenings Henok, Lebna and I would rent a kid friendly video and sit on his mom's bed and watch it together.

Lebna's mom was a sweet lady. She was frail and thin. She didn't speak English. She was getting some free ARVs at a clinic for her HIV. I got the impression the clinic was some distance away. The clinic had given her some HIV posters and she had them hanging on the walls of the sitting room.

When we left we gave Lebna's mom $20. Henok told her that Lebna wanted to buy an Oxford Dictionary, but she knew their budget and should choose how to spend it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Birds

You see a lot of birds when you cycle. All kinds of different interesting birds with long tail feathers, and funny beaks and so many colours. But normally it's hard to take pictures of them.

This picture was taken in Ethiopia where a driver had killed seven donkeys the night before. There were around 200 vultures feasting and having a good time.

In Ethiopia, you always suspect that the drivers are a bit buzzed, and bug eyed from chewing "chat." Chat is a mild stimulant and drivers like it because it keeps them awake. It is Ethiopia's fourth largest export.

The thing which I hadn't realized is that donkey skin is very tough except for a patch near the tail. The vultures go in the back door and eat them from the inside out. Which is a bit gruesome really.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Camping in the forest

One night in Namibia, I heard a leopard outside my tent making cat noises and knocking over my stuff. I wanted to take a picture of it, but I also wanted to keep my arm in one piece so I didn't.

The mantra white people repeat is that you are safe if you sleep in a tent. I slept fine.

In the morning, I found this old claw mark which I thought it was pretty impressive. It goes all the way through the bark. Judging from the other claw marks, the leopard used to like to sit in the tree near my tent and was surprised to find me in its territory.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Ethiopian toilette stories

Ethiopian hotels have one feature you seldom see in other countries. Chamber pots.

Normally I opt for the cheapest hotels and so I don't get my own toilette and shower in those. In Ethiopia, the toilettes were sometimes difficult to reach at night. At one place you had to dress, put on your shoes, go out the gate and back in again by the front door, through the bar with a crowded dance floor and use the toilette in the back. That's about the point where I discovered that, yes, I can piss in a pot.

I was reading a website where some Ethiopian kids took a poo in their pot. They emptied it themselves so that's acceptable I suppose. When I asked about it, I was told that taking a dump in the pot was not OK unless you were desperately sick and about to die.

People also throw garbage in their chamber pots. One hotel had a way of sieving the garbage out so the pee drained into a ditch but they could burn the garbage.

Another time the cleaning lady just slopped the pee under the toilette stall door. It was a squat type toilette and the floor of the bathroom was sloped so probably most of the pee just ran down and drained away. I guess what struck me most about that was the unfortunate timing. Although in a more literal sense what actually struck me was urine seeing as how I was squating in there when she did it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Done done done...

I am at my parents house in Solwezi Zambia and that is the end of the road for me. I'm done. There are so many blog posts that I want to write still so I'll try to post them all. Maybe once a day for a five weeks.

Also I was wrong in the last post when I said there are no surprises in Zambia.

I took the back roads through Zambia. Parts of it were sandy sweaty work. The worst sand was from Mongu to Usha where I had to drag my bike through sand for around seven hours. It was well after dark when I finally reached a Luvale village and decided to stop for the night.

The lady there handed me a drink but under my flash light it looked pretty murky. I try be careful about not drinking murky water but the lady insisted, so I took a sip. It was a mabula fruit juice. I have never heard of that before. So cool and good.

Zambia has been full of pleasant surprises.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I am in Mongu, Zambia now.

Zambia is a very Christian country. The last two restaurants I have visited had New Testaments at all the tables. So if the cook is taking a long time preparing your meal you could get some reading in.

But the food in Zambia is not very interesting. All the other countries had at least one traditional dish which was new for me.

One meal that I remember very fondly was breakfast in Vilan Culos, Mozambique. That's where the picture was taken. I went to this local cheap restaurant and asked for food. The lady there was so hesitant. She was says, "Well, if you really want some food we serve breakfast for $1 but it's just local food." She shows me a plate full of salad with a vinaigrette dressing. "It only comes with a talipia fish, a couple fresh baked buns and a mug of tea."

Mmmm... Mmmm... Mmmmmmmmmmmm..........

Monday, September 28, 2009

Awassa (Ethiopia)

This is a picture of Fish and his girl friend in Awassa in southern Ethiopia.

It is a half days ride to Awassa. You climb up to the top of the hill until you reach the cell phone tower. Then you coast for half an hour through the fields of hay and butterflies.

Awassa is beautiful. It's prosperous. It's clean. There is a golden domed cathedral in the center. The women wear pin stripe suits and ride around on bicycles.

Awassa had electricity the whole time I was there. The ATM at Dashen Bank was functioning. The internet cafes were open and the espresso machines were operating.

On Sundays, in the evening, the whole town comes down to the lake to watch the sunset and walk home thoughtfully in the dark.

If you have read a few of these blog entries, you know they are mostly about philosophy, introspection and weird beetle bugs. Adventures and wild animals would be awesome, but the shameful truth is that I'm not hard core. I have purposely tried to avoid animals. They scare me. Because of the pointy bits.

In Botswana, I mostly slept in the forest at night. There are tons of scrubby thorn bushes everywhere. I would hide my tent in the scrub a little way off the road. The route I chose avoided elephants. People have cows and if they find a lion they call a team from Gaborone to relocate it to the game parks. Occasionally there are other small predators. You sometimes hear jackals or the odd hyena. If you sleep in a tent they won't bother you.

But one night, I woke up needing to pee when I heard something sniff just outside my tent next to my head. One idea was to scare it away by making a loud noise or spraying pepper spray out there. On the other hand, that might just make it curious or annoyed so doing nothing might be safer. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to need to rig an indoor toilette together using an empty can of baked beans.

For the next few hours until dawn I had my pepper spray in hand, ready to leap into action. In the morning I put all my tracker skills into practice looking for droppings and footprints. It turned out that the sound was my tent rubbing together in the breeze.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Namibia

So I am in Katima Mulilo, Namibia today on the banks of the Zambezi River. I can see into Zambia from my campsite. I was supposed to be in Zambia today but I'm a bit unwell. Nothing serious. Barfed a bit. Small headache.

There still is a lot of cycling to do in Zambia to reach Solwezi where Mum and Dad are.

It will mostly be on dirt roads. Very remote. With no internet access.

There are so many things I haven't written on this blog.

These last couple weeks have been fun. Watching the elephants from the camp site in the evenings. Listening to the hippos.

Hippos always sound like they are right next to you. A couple times I have cracked my tent open to look out, but I've never seen them. There aren't any tracks in the sand the next morning.


Most male animals have to fight all the other males before they can breed. Rhinos do not use that system. Instead rhinos rely on their sense of smell. A female rhino can sniff a pile of dung one time and tell how healthy and virile a male is. This is something modern science has not even come close to duplicating.

According to evolutionary theory, the first rhinos were a kind of tall gazelle. Then they developed their marvellous sense of smell. After that, there was no point in battles, the only thing that mattered was maintaining a healthy digestive system. Slowly rhinos became heavier and shorter.

Three million years of selective breeding later you get the modern rhino. Essentially it's just a minivan with a horn attached to the front. It's not beautiful. It can't jump. It can't run more than a hundred yards. It can barely see. It's kind of surly. It's kind of stupid. The only thing it's good at is digesting.

But, boy, are rhinos ever good at digesting! You can feed them old boots and car tires and what comes out is the highest grade manure. The top tulip farmers in all the world rely on rhino manure exclusively to fertilize their prize winning bulbs.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Snakes (North Mozambique)

After lunch, I was getting on my bike and two snakes fell out of the tree near me. They were thin green snakes. One was three foot and the other was four foot long.

The fall stunned them for a couple seconds but they seemed unharmed. Your guess is as good as mine what they were doing together that made them take a tumble. They slithered away for a bit and stopped.

The small one turned and looked at me. Its head was perfectly motionless but its pale underbelly waved madly from side to side as if in a strong wind. We stared at each other for a long time until I turned and got on my bike. When I looked around again they were moving in the other direction.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dung Beetle

Dung beetles are fantastic animals. You can't really understand work ethic until you have sat and watched a dung beetle. They move tremendously fast. They have to stand on their heads and push with their rear legs. From that position they can't see where they are going so they have to stop every few seconds and jump on top of their ball of dung and turn in a circle to scope the route. Then they leap off and start pushing again like mad.

There are several kinds of dung beetles. Some are iridescent green.

This beetle got combative when I tried to take a picture of it. Looking at the photos I see that it has something clinging to it's underside. I don't know if those are little flies or if they are baby dung beetles. Perhaps it was protecting them or perhaps it was in a foul temper before I found it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I am in Botswana now. In Botswana there are only three affordable places to sleep in the whole country so mostly it's going to be camping in the forest. I still have tons of old blog posts from Ethiopia and every other country that I wanted to write... Here is a random post from Kenya. The picture is also random, taken from a game drive in Swaziland.

Nanyuki is one of the starting points for Mount Kenya expeditions. I had passed through the town in 2004 with a friend from Sudan, Lagu, when we climbed the mountain together. That time we didn't sleep in town so I didn't know where the hotels were.

I cycled for a while looking for one, but eventually just went with a street hawker who said he take me to a hotel that was pretty cheap. It turned out he was really a mountain guide looking for clients. He remembered Lagu. The first Sudanese man to climb Mount Kenya. He had been guiding two German women that time. We had met the women at the top and hiked down together.

The hotel where he led me, was next to the Montana Guide Company which Lagu and I had used. I saw our old guide in the hotel restaurant when I went to supper. We talked for a bit. He seemed despondent. Guiding is supposed to be a career. These guys are trained in safety and mountain lore. Normally it takes people four days to climb the mountain, but the guides can run to the top in eight hours if they need to. Business was down 90% because of all the post election killings. I offered to buy him supper or a drink, but his wife had already cooked dinner and it was almost night. It's dangerous to walk through town after dark.

After he left, a woman came over to my table. "I've already ordered," I told her, thinking she was a waitress.

"Oh. No," she says, "I'm not with the hotel. I'm an escort. I came to ask if you wanted a quickie."

I realised then that I had seen her outside talking to some guides. It was cool weather and she was wearing sensible clothes. Jeans. A light sweater. Tallish. Attractive. "Ah," I say, "No. I'm OK thanks."

Suspicious, she asks me, "You're OK? So if I come here later on, I'm going to see you with a woman?"

"Uh... No. It's just that I'm quite religious, yeah?"

"Oh." she says, looking at me as if I had just told her that I was gravely ill. "Oh." she says, "Sorry."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Elephant grass

Just me
And the road
And the wind and sun
And the rustle and smell
Of the elephant grass

Friday, August 14, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Urban Legends...

When I was a kid, I went to a boarding school called Sakeji in the very north west tip of Zambia. It was a bit like something from a Charles Dickens novel. Very strict.

One time someone donated the school a ton of canned potatoes. The bad thing was that the potatoes tasted faintly of gasoline. We complained, but the word from above was that we should eat our potatoes or we would be given something real to complain about. For the next two months we had gasoline potatoes for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It sounds like I'm whining about food that I ate twenty years ago, but I'm not. It wasn't that big of a deal. I'm only giving that as example to show how at Sakeji we ate what we were given.

Most people liked the breakfasts at Sakeji. It was the same every day and it started out with a kind of milky, cracked corn porridge. One morning, I was about to dig into my porridge when I noticed a rat dropping on the top.

I didn't know what to do. Eventually, I decided to eat the porridge that was far away and figure out later on what to do about the rat dropping. Slowly by slowly, I nibbled away all the uncontroversial bits, until I had formed a small round island of porridge with the rat dropping at the center and I could not eat any further.

By this point, when I looked at my bowl, I realised there wasn't very much porridge left and I could probably throw it away without anyone accusing me of wasting food. We talked very proper English at boarding school. I asked, “Excuse me, Miss, there is a rat dropping here. Please, may I throw away the rest of my porridge?” My concern was that instead of throwing everything out, the teacher would just spoon the dropping off the top.

Fortunately, I had a new teacher recently arrived from Scotland. Apparently, she must have hated rats and rat related poo or something. Perhaps she had a general dislike of porridge poo combinations. Either way, she was eager that I do throw it out, immediately.

What made me think of that incident, was an urban legend here in South Africa about a tourist who was really paranoid about the drinking water. He did everything right and even used bottled water to brush his teeth, but right before he got on the plane to go back to America he caught leptospirosis and died. Leptospirosis is spread by rat urine. The story is that the tourist got the disease by drinking coke directly from the can. He would have been safe if only he had used a straw.

It's an irritating myth. You explain to people that it's just a made up story and they respond, “Well... It could have happened.” and you respond, “No. It couldn't have happened.” and they respond, “Well... I still think I'm going to use a straw.”

Listen people, just drink your coke. You do not need a straw. You are not going to die today.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Random old posts

This was when Henok and I were on the way to Bahir Dar. The tall kid saw us doing our traditional complete search to make sure we hadn't left anything in the room. He asked us if we had lost something and then gave us the phone number for the hotel and told us if we later found that we had lost something he could send it to us on the next bus.

Basically all other kids in Ethiopia spent every waking hour looking for cyclists to throw rocks at...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Remember when I said I was going to go to Durbin instead of the more traditional Cape Town? I'm in Durbin now. It took ten thousand kilometers worth of cycling to get here.

From here the plan is to cycle north to Botswana and Zambia.

It's winter down here. Apparently desperately cold when you go further inland. A couple weeks ago one of the roads was blocked with snow. Then later another road was blocked because the wind blew a couple trucks over. I was cycling in that wind one day. It was pretty intense. And obviously the stronger the wind the more likely it is to be blowing in the opposite direction from where you are going...

Mostly in South Africa I have been camping in caravan parks next to the beaches. School is out for the next two weeks so a lot of them are charging double the normal rate. Before that it was just Afrikaner pensioners. I'm not sure where I will stay when I go inland.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Around lunch time

Around lunch time, I arrived at another tiny town without a restaurant, or bread, or bananas or anything for sale that a hungry traveller could eat except dry biscuits and Coca-cola.

They're not unpleasant, Maria biscuits, but it takes determination to eat a packet of fifty. Chew, chew, chew. Flood your mouth with coke. Swallow.

And sitting there by the dusty roadside, I thought about the distance this meal, this modern matzos and wine, had travelled. From the bursting metropolis in South Africa with it vast factories manufacturing biscuits by the millions and the thousand workers with huge spoons stirring the fizzing chemical vats where they make Coca-cola. From there, to here, to me, methodically chewing and swallowing.

And I realized that I this was the future, that every meal will be like this, some day, when we live in outer space.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In Blantyre

I'm in Blantyre. :)

I took a week (5 days actually cycling) to get here.

Part of the road is marked as scenic, but really the whole thing is beautiful. Malawian drivers are pretty polite. I was staying in Uganda so long, that now it's amazing to me to watch Malawian drivers respecting laws.

There isn't a lot to blog about. Weird small things mostly. At one point there was a broken down truck and they put bouquets of wild flowers in the road to alert drivers about the obstacle.

I'm going to Mozambique from here. I don't know the internet situation in Mozambique. It may be a while until my next post...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Lilongwe

My bike is still here! I left it with the people at St Peter's Guest House and I paid them to store it for 60 days. They stored it for an additional 71 days after that.

I was mentally preparing myself to buy a local bike.

When you're cycling through Africa, there is very little margin for things to go wrong. For example, yesterday on the bus, someone could have stolen all my stuff while I was asleep. I keep a photocopy of my passport and $20 dollars on me at all times, in case something goes wrong.

Really, though, I depend on the goodness of people around me. It's amazing to me how good people have been.

Speaking of possessions, I have some new toys for this part of the trip. A road map. Some fancy imported chain lube. An eee laptop computer. I had a Nokia 810 PDA already, but I want to do some kernel hacking. We'll see how long it survives. I also have malaria pills, premoquine to prevent malaria and some other pills to cure malaria. Earlier I had tried to buy malaria medicine and people had sold me chloroquine as a cure or taken once a week to prevent malaria. Chloroquine makes me lethargic and grumpy. It's basically useless, so I wasn't taking it.

One thing I'm missing is my towel. I left it in Kampala by mistake. It was a Mountain Safety Research quick drying, extra absorbative, light weight, compactable camping towel. Seriously, it was a good towel. Ah well...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When I was in my early teens, Mom implemented a curfew where I had to be in the house before dark. Like every teenager I was stroppy and outraged. Mom explained, “I guess a new witch doctor has moved into the area, because there have been several witchcraft related killings recently. They could tell because the hearts, livers and fingers had been removed. Your father and I are just concerned that since you and your sister are the only white kids around, that might make you a target.”

I bet, if that witchdoctor hadn't moved into town or if he had used normal, non-human ingredients for his witchcraft stew, I would have turned into a total party animal. I would probably be out late every night carousing and club hopping instead of sitting quietly at home playing computer scrabble with the blinds drawn and the doors barred and bolted.

I'm passing through Tanzania now and took a few days off in Dar. You maybe saw in the news how a bunch of albino people here have been killed for witchcraft. My understanding is that it's often in rural areas where everyone knows everyone. For one killing where they had a suspect, it was an acquaintance of the albino guy who lured him away from his house at night.

I think Tanzania has more albino people than other countries I have been to. Perhaps I just notice them more in light of the news.

So far no foreigners have been killed. Our wealth helps us some ways. The local police protect us, to protect the tourism industry. Our relatives and friends would hunt the killers down. Expats get used to operating at higher security levels because people are trying to rob us all the time. We have our walls, razor wire, security guards, burglar bars, dogs and guns.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Starting off again

I have been staying in Uganda since Christmas and tomorrow I leave. I'm taking a very fancy bus to Dar es Salaam. From there I'll travel to Lilongwe. Hopefully, my bike is still there and I can cycle on from there.

The traditional ending for this kind of bike trip is Cape Town, but I'm only planning to go as far as Durbin. The trick is that when I hit Durbin, I'm going to loop back up through Botswana and end in Zambia.

I decided to change the ending when I was cycling in Ethiopia and everyone kept telling me that most people cycle through Sudan and go the whole way by bike instead of skipping bits here and there. Once I realized that my trip was completely ruined, I just said screw it, I'm not even going to bother going to Cape Town at all.

So Malawi to Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and finally Zambia. It will probably take around four months. My parents will be in Zambia by the time I arrive. I also want to live in Zambia, so I'm going to try figure out a way to settle down there and make a living etc etc etc. That's what I have decided.

I'm extremely nervous about this next leg for some reason. I've had nights when I wake up worrying that my bike had been stolen and I just couldn't get back to sleep. Every time I leave my bike behind, I worry a lot.

I had the flu earlier in the week. I have a sore throat and it's turned into a sore jaw and ear. I'm also a hypochondriac. Whenever I get a sore throat, I secretly worry I have rabies.

My bus leaves Kampala tomorrow at 7 AM.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Ethiopia has it's own ancient calender and time. It's desperately confusing to figure out the time and date is. For example, someone might say, "We'll start at 1 o'clock and end at 8 o'clock." But the 1 o'clock is Ethiopian time so really it means 7 am and the 8 o'clock is just regular 8 am.

Also computers are sometimes set to Ethiopian time and date. Sometimes the date is wrong so that they can use pirated anti-virus software. Other times the date is wrong because the CMOS battery died and it resets on bootup. Anyway, the result is that you can't check gmail because the SSL certificates are from the future.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that it's as confusing as pants.

Ethiopia also has it's own ancient branch of Christianity. It was the day before Easter 2000 when I reached Dejen. For the fifty days leading up to Easter, Ethiopian Christians don't eat meat. I also didn't eat meat because it wasn't available. One butcher used the down time to repaint his shop.

Then on Easter everyone has a feast. Cattlemen from three hundred kilometres away drive their herds to Addis Ababa. I have never seen such happy butchers as in Dejen that day.

For myself, I hung out with a guy called Henok just shooting the breeze. At one point I was just joking and I said he should join me. But instead of laughing, he said it was a great idea. "So uh... What about your job you were telling me about?" Turns out that I had misunderstood, he didn't have a job currently. "But you were going to school though. You can't leave that." No no. School was out for two months.

In the end, I decided it would be pretty cool to have company so I agreed to buy Henok a bike and let him come with me. It was sort of risky thing, because he could have robbed me blind but he seemed like a nice enough bloke and I felt I could trust him.

Monday, February 9, 2009


We were discussing toilettes yesterday. My feeling is that Ethiopia has some of the worst toilettes ever.

In Egypt, guys are supposed to squat to pee because peeing standing up is considered unhygienic under Islam. Also since Egyptians often wear robes, you can pee more modestly squatting. In Ethiopia on the other hand, guys consider it unhygienic to step in pee, so they stand just outside the bathroom door and aim from a distance.

The good news for me was that in Ethiopia you can buy the same Egyptian brand of tissue paper. It comes in a pack of 10 tissues. I carried one in my pocket at all times. Other people cannot afford tissue paper though so a lot of newspaper and leaves are used. Newspaper would clog up the toilette so you have to throw it in the garbage afterwards. If a garbage bin isn't provided, then you can just toss it on the floor. I tried to explain to that tissue paper was OK to throw down the loo because it was designed to not clock things up, but everyone was doubtful. Also if there is a garbage can brim full of used newspaper, you may as well throw your tissue in too.

Some places are maybe too remote for a daily news paper and maybe they're inside a courtyard so no leaves are available. In that situation the hotel owners are supposed to leave some water so people can clean up. Some hotel owners are lazy. You can tell which ones are the lazest by the number of poo smears on the wall.

Basically everyone has the same amount of poo on their fingers and everyone shares a common desire of not crossing with another smear as you wipe your hand on the wall. It sort of creates a pattern. So all across the toilettes of Ethiopia you find the same disgusting finger painted mural of prairie grasses waving in a cool Autumn breeze.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Old Ethiopia Blog Posts...

So... Anyway... I have a bunch of Ethiopia blogs that I never posted...

As I said, I procrastinated for days in Addis before I started cycling to Gondor. I didn't have a map at this point so things are a bit hazy. I'd wake up not knowing the place name, and cycle through a bunch of places and finally go to sleep in some other place. I think it took me either 2 days or 5 days to get to the Abai Gorge.

You can actually see the gorge from a long way off. To me it looked like there was an enormous valley and followed by hills. I figured I would take a day to cross the valley and climb the hills the next day. But really you just go down for a long way until you hit the gorge and then you go down and there is a river and then you cycle all the way up.

The Abai river is the Ethiopian name for the Blue Nile. The Japanese government is building a new bridge to replace the older one. I gave my remaining biscuits to the guards on the way down and then on the way up the guards on the other side invited me to eat lunch with them.

There is a shady turn off a couple kilometres from the bridge. It has a small water fall where truckers shower. A couple ladies sitting on blankets were selling tea and soda pop. Occasionally monkeys will wander through and you can feed them if you want.

It takes three hours from the turn off to reach the ridge line and Dejen, the nearest town. There are 92 kilometres of winding road from one side of the gorge to the other.