Date: September 1999
Endemna Deresh (Amharic-Ethiopian),
We are out of Africa and in Istanbul right now. Last Monday we were
witnesses of a small earthquake (5.8 on R's scale). The people we stayed
with immediately walked out of their house to be on the safe side.
After Uganda (see last newsletter), where Lonhro motors helped us to
replace the broken CDI unit of our motorcycle, we travelled through Kenya
to see Lake Bogoria where about 3 million Flamingos have their residence.
It is a hot soda lake with some geysers in it, which sets the pink presence
of so many flamingos in a fantastic atmosphere.
Northern Kenya is a stony desert, where the 'road' is more like a dry
riverbed. Trucks have left behind two ruts leading north and that's what
you follow. It's really the middle of nowhere, stones as far as the eye
can reach. The heat is scorching and every hour we had to stop to drink.
It's quite tricky to drive the sidecar, as the ruts are too wide for
our wheelbase and we had to ride with the sidecar wheel up on top of the
crest between the two ruts. The stones are flat and we didn't have any
grip. The sidecar wheel tried to push us off all the time and we felt
It's over here that the local people, that are related to the Masai,
warned us not to go to Ethiopia. "They will kill you, it is very
dangerous," we were warned. We had actually been happy and relieved
that we were able to ride through the dessert on our own, for chiefta's
have long made this a dangerous place. The Chiefta's are mainly groups
of rebelling Somalians that cross the border into Kenya in order to hijack
passing by vehicles. Cars and trucks are now going through in convoy with
armed guards to protect them. But, since nothing has happened for a long
time we were allowed to travel alone and we chose to leave early in the
morning, about half an hour before the convoy would start moving.
The dessert was mind-blowing as we drove on from Marsabit to Moyale.
Suddenly there were two Turkana warriors that asked for water and a bit
later we passed a camel caravan slowly moving on.
It's tough too, to ride with you sidecar wheel up on top of the crest
between the two ruts. Started feeling every muscle and every bone in my
body, hearing my heart beating and feeling my breathe going, but most
of all: Feeling great and so much alive!
Arriving in Ethiopia means plunging into a totally different world.
One thing was the same: "You come from Kenya," we were asked.
"Ohh, how lucky you are to have survived. Those people are very dangerous,
they could have easily killed you!" Like the Kenyans, the Ethiopians
never had been to the other side. They all knew it was dangerous and would
never go there.
Ethiopia really stole our hearts. It's quite different from any other
place we've seen in Africa and has a very interesting culture and history.
We met so many nice people and plenty of Youyou's, which are children
that start shouting youyouyouyou... etc. as soon as they see you. 'Me'
and 'you' are the first words they learn in school and they seem to love
to practice that.
We were stuck for five days at the Ethiopian/Sudanese border together
with some other travellers and our trip was delayed for 3 weeks (cost
us almost 500 dollars), but we made it after all and have some great adventurous
stories to tell of course. Actually, we almost got stuck for over three
months because of the rainy season, but when we finally were allowed to
drive through that river and cross that border there was a Land Rover
with 6 soldiers.
They accompanied us through the 60 km of black cotton soil that turns
into an impassable mudhole when wet. We had bought 14 metres of rope to
tie two donkeys in front of our sidecar if necessary, but were lucky because
the night before we passed it stayed dry. We got terribly stuck three
times though and we used the rope, but it were soldiers pulling us out
instead of donkeys (thanks guys!). We covered the 60 km in 4 hours instead
of in four days and arrived in Ghedaref the nexr day.
Sudan is a country we would like to go back to. Unspoiled by mass tourism
it has a character of its own and the food is fantastic. The people in
Sudan were good for us. If only that terrible war in the South would stop.
To go to Egypt we had to take the ferry from Wadi Halfa to Aswan because
border crossings overland are closed and the routes are mined too. This
was another adventure of its own for we had to take the sidecar off the
bike to fit through the door of the ferry. But with the help of the ever-helpful
Sudanese people (as well as a lot of sweat) everything worked out in the