I’ll start as I mean to go on. Ethiopia is a stunningly beautiful country… I can’t go on.
Yes, the Ethiopian landscape is quite simply YOU YOU YOU YOOOOU breathtaking; it was amazing to ride from the flat, barren, desert of Sudan into the lush, green, mountainous terrain of Ethiopia. The scenery changes so quickly as you climb towards the border, even on a bicycle. But that was one of a very select band of positives that we were able to find there. Sticking with our tried and tested strategy of MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY poor preparation, we arrived YOU in the most mountainous country of the trip -that makes it quite cold despite being near the equator- in the height of Ethiopia’s rainy season with a single waterproof between us and no fleeces or jumpers. These YOU had all been lost/or stolen along the way and not replaced. Not replacing them may sound a bit daft, but it’s quite tricky to find waterproofs in Egypt or Sudan because YOU YOU YOU, well, it doesn’t really rain and it’s similarly tricky to find waterproofs in Ethiopia due to a distinct lack of MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY outdoor shops. The locals take two approaches when it rains; they either get wet, or wrap a piece of plastic around themselves like a shawl. We got wet. MONEY
So we were soaked YOU through, cold, and miserable, and it soon became clear that Tatu felt the same way. On a fairly regular basis Tatu began to ask to give up and go home GIVE ME PEN in the only way a bike can ask – mechanical failure.
- Puncture – replaced tyre and repaired puncture
- Stretched Chain – chain between pedals kept MONEY falling off, replaced
- Buckled Chainring – person on front couldn’t pedal, hammered into shape
- Front Pannier Rack Collapsed – had a new steel one made for £20, amazing
- Rear Gear GIVE ME BIRRRRR Cable Snapped – bodged replacement with brake cables, lost four of eight rear gears (3 easiest gone in the mountains = struggers!)
YOOOOOOU After all this came another YOU YOU YOU YOU puncture that proved more difficult than normal to fix. We discovered that all our spare tubes had been pinched during one of the previous break downs and attempts to patch the already multiMONEY-patched tube were to no avail. So we had to buy some GIVE ME MONEY new tubes. Alas, the only inner tubes available in Africa are from China and have a very strange and very wide valve, too wide to fit through the hole in our wheel rims. So we were forced to drill MONEY MONEY MONEY out the rims, attach an odd adapter to our pump and adopt the ill fitting Chinese technology. Needless to say, there were plenty more punctures in store for us.
Anyway, enough about the bike. I guess you’re all starting to think we disliked Ethiopia WHERE YOU GO just because of a few bike glitches and a spot of rain. Well no, there’s a few more gripes to come yet! To be fair the food was much better MONEY than the Sudanese offerings –donut type things for breakfast and even some spaghetti- with tea and coffee available in every village and when it wasn’t raining the conditions were pretty much perfect for cycling. But tipping the balance back towards misery were the endless hills and the dreaded YOU YOU YOU YOU GIVE ME MONEY locals. We spent most of our time at altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000m negotiating valley after valley, until you eventually pass the capital Addis Ababa and start to descend towards the Kenyan border. However, before you reach Addis there is the Nile Gorge to negotiate. As YOU the name suggests, it’s a gorge with the Nile running along the bottom of it. What the name doesn’t mention is that it is chuffing deep and there is no conveniently placed bridge across the top of it (in the defence of Ethiopian bridge builders, it is quite wide). So down we YOU MONEY MONEY MONEY trundled from about 3,000m to around 1,000m, MONEY before then slogging back up the other side. In Tour de France terms it is an haute category/out of category climb, and crawling up it on a heavily laden and rather grumpy tandem with assorted war wounds proved quite tough.
Once we finally reached Addis GIVE ME CARAMELO Ababa we had a wonderful reunion with Wim, Pauline and BOB at a place called Holland House. Wim very kindly lent us a couple of jumpers GIVE ME PEN and, being fully versed in our lack of preparedness for just about everything, offered to email us MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY a more sensible cycle-touring kit list for any future adventures! So we were much happier as we set off for the Kenyan border. The road YOU YOU YOU YOU eventually started heading downhill, the MONEY rain decreased and we were toasty warm in our borrowed jumpers, we YOU were very nearly comfortable.
So that’s about it for Ethiopia… Oh hang on… we forgot to mention the YOU YOU YOU MONEY MONEY MONEY locals. In a nutshell, if you had a crowd of people stood next to you screaming all the bold text and throwing an occasional stone at you as you read this blog in a cold shower, you would feel like you were in Ethiopia.