March 20, 2010 GMT
South From Addis Ababa



We obtained Kenyan visas in Addis, the three-month variety, so that will be helpful.



We also have three-month visas for here in Ethiopia. But at the border we could only get one-month customs permits for our bikes so we have to move on.
And there are reports of rain further south.


Just before we left, a British rider, Ron, on an elderly BMW heading north gave us some very useful information on places to stay, and some encouraging advice on the dreaded Moyale-Isiolo road.
"It's not that bad," he said. "Take it easy and you'll be fine. And sometimes there are some smooth bits you can ride on with a bike if you look for them."
But he was delayed in Marsabit, about halfway along the road, for two days because of rain.
"Even that has it's advantages - once the rain stops and drains away and dries a bit, bikes can get going before the big trucks, so you don't have them to contend with!"
So we continue hopefully (But check the weather here in Awasa - below).


Ron had some entertaining stories about his round-the-world trip - Europe, Russia, the 'Stans', China, S.E. Asia, Australia, and now Cape Town to England. But he had taken only eight months for that, against our six months for London to Addis.
"I need to be home in two months," he said. "Have a living to earn!"
"And wait a minute!" he exclaimed. "The Chinese have started tarmacking that road from Isiolo. If you continue at your present speed it'll all be done (300km) by the time you get there!"
We'd heard about the rate of roads being covered with tarmac by the Chinese throughout East Africa, and seen some of it across the Sudanese deserts. So we'll see.


The owner of the campsite in Addis, Wim, is Dutch and knows a Dutch flower-grower with extensive grounds in Koka, about two hours south.
"Anyone who stays here is welcome to stay there for free!" Wim tells us. So as we still had things to do on our departure day and didn't leave until about 3:00pm that was useful. The owner of the farm was away at the time but his manager looked after us very well, with beers and teas all round.
We departed for lake Langano the following day.




langano1.JPG
Campsite at Lake Langano.


langano2.JPG
Local fishermen in a little canoe catch a lot of Tilapia here, so we bought a kilo for 50p which went down well. About half an hour from lake to plate!




We continued yesterday and arrived here in Awasa in a spectacular thunder storm late in the afternoon.
And that seems to be the pattern now.
We were rained on a little leaving Addis in the afternoon, somewhat more so yesterday, and the black clouds are gathering now at 6:00pm.


Between Addis and here we have dropped about 3000ft, so the weather is much warmer and pretty humid. But the bikes run much better.
There is also a considerable change in the landscape. Imagine the Wolds of Lincolnshire with a little help from some tropical weather. Regular visitors to Cadwell Park might get the idea. Not quite so green, but lush vegetation on the rolling hills everywhere. And where there are gaps in the trees, animals also everywhere.
Donkeys, chickens, goats, sheep, cattle, oxen pulling ploughs, camels (some even kept as pets!), horses, all crossing the road whenever the fancy takes. No fences. Anywhere.


To complete the picture, there are the extensive flower-growing farms scattered all around the town of Koka.


But outside of the many towns, not so many people!
Or so it seems, until you look closely into the shadows beneath the trees.
Which here have dense leafy branches in a flat horizontal canopy spreading out maybe twenty feet creating a large circle of dark shade below.
That's where the people are! Resting and socialising and taking not much notice of us. Except the children who run quickly up to the road, so the waving continues.


The plan now is to continue tomorrow to Yabello and do an oil change. Then to Moyale the next day, crossing into Kenya the day after.
The standard advice then is to do just 80km of 'the dreaded road' as practice, stopping the night at a popular campsite, in preparation for the long haul to Marsabit the next day. We have been, off and on, in the company of three groups of travellers in 4X4s, and met one of them in the supermarket this morning. In fact, Caroline has off-loaded some of her luggage ('the library') onto a large ex-military truck carrying a couple of German charity workers that we first met in Luxor (I think). And we are all juggling timetables to maybe traverse 'the road' together, or as together as possible.
We'll see.




(Footnote - have just found the 'Notification button' - well, the internet is soooo slow here! Will try to remember to press it now and again. But maybe not till Nairobi now).




Posted by Ken Thomas at March 20, 2010 03:23 PM GMT
 



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