July 22, 2024

A long day’s drive to Gonder

We left Asheton Hotel in Lalibela this morning after a great breakfast of bread, butter, jam and eggs. We were both dressed warmly in extra jerseys underneath our bike jackets and our rain suits over everything. Despite all the layers it was still icy cold until we started to descent to Waratah (where the t-junction turns left to Bahir Dar and right to Gonder). It is amazing to think that just a few hundred kilometres from here there is a desert.

I have to be honest and say that it was a very challenging 360km ride today. There were just too many people along the road, of which a large part of them are friendly, but there are also too many children and teenagers that make driving very hard here in Ethiopia. I was thrown only twice (once with a piece of rubbish and second with a rock but it only hit the bike), but it was enough to make me not enjoy the ride and distrust most people along the way. Some also pick up rocks and act as if they will throw you but they don’t and some others jump towards the bike or point their sticks at you. I still don’t understand why they do this. The kids have so much energy and they put everything into waving, jumping, pulling faces etc. I wish I could channel all of that into something good like putting them in school where they can do something useful – I think they are really bored.

It is a pity that the people challenge you so much, because Ethiopia is really beautiful and around every new bend you are blessed with yet another magnificent view over the mountains. The tarmac is also in a very good condition, which makes driving a pleasure. We spent quite some time in the saddle today so the only photo I took was this one of the rudely shaped rock – hehe here goes:

Rudely shaped rock

I must say that once we turned towards Gonder the people calmed down a little and the last 160km was not so bad as the first part. We arrived in Gonder at the Belegez Pension at about 16h00. The place is great for bikers because the rooms are built around a courtyard where you can park your bike right in front of your room. Unfortunately the place is booked out by a tour group tomorrow evening so we will look for another place to stay tomorrow.

We were very hungry when we arrived and decided to walk to town to see what we can find. But, soon after we left the hotel, Babi appointed himself as our guide and started to point out obvious things such as the nursery, library, mountain and cobblestone path. We were polite but firm (as the Lonely Planet instructed) and told him that we would like to walk alone to get some exercise. This however did not work and even after Francois told him how tired he was because it was a long drive and the kids threw us with rocks so we were not feeling happy we still couldn’t shake him. The last straw was when we went into a restaurant to sit down when he casually also sat down with us and started pointing out the river in the distance to talk about that when Francois politely told him that he wants to have a private dinner with his wife. Finally that worked and he left us alone. We didn’t feel good about it, but we just couldn’t take it anymore.

The combination of difficult journey from Lalibela, rock-throwing kids, self-appointed guides, kids constantly shouting out to you for attention in the streets just got a bit too much for us today – it is quite difficult to explain it all in words. The best way to describe it is to quote what the Lonely Planet said – “people come to Ethiopia to be moved, and moved you shall be!” It is the first country that has made our heads spin as much as this one.

We try and isolate these experiences from the good ones and realise that when you are a bit tired all seems a bit harder :o)

4 thoughts on “A long day’s drive to Gonder

  1. Ai toggies dis nou ‘n mengsel van ervaringe! Baie dankie vir die foto’s van die kerke ens. Hoop julle kan goed uitrus in vrede en vreugdes geniet. Kan net dink dat julle darem nou al fisies en emosioneel moeg kan wees – jul is al 2 maande op die pad. Dis nie ‘n grap wat julle aangepak het nie! Ek het groot bewondering vir julle. Voorspoed!

  2. So smokkel Afrika nie net met julle koppe en emosies nie, maar ook met ons spreekwoorde: klink vir my na “die storm voor die stilte” met Soedan se woestyn wat voorle. Dit alles klink vir my amper te veel om in te neem; julle gaan nog baie wonder of julle nie ‘gedroom’ het nie. Mag Ethiopie die twee(?) laaste dae net sy mooi kant vir julle wys. Liefde, E

  3. Ag sjame, julle. My hart gaan uit na julle toe. As dit enigsins troos- daardie kerkies het my asem weggeslaan, en DIT sal julle nerens anders in die wereld kon beleef nie. Strongs julle 2!!

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