It occurs to me that all this focus on road conditions and the challenge of riding (or not!) in Kenya has perhaps overshadowed some of the delightful and amazing sights and sounds that we’ve been so fortunate to experience. So, in an effort to rectify this, here are some observations from recent times to match those from earlier on in the journey…
On our second day of travelling through the Sudanese desert, and roughly following the course of the Nile, we were shown by the indomitable Louis a fallen statue which he said was Nubian in origin. It was really weird – we just pulled up on the side of the road, near a village, climbed some rocks, and there it was, a perfectly hewn statue, lying prostrate on the ground, clearly of no interest to the locals. I would love to know more about it, where it came from and how it came to be there.
On the road from Gonder to Lalibela (before the dreadfully bumpy stony section), you come across some amazing landscapes with huge structures which I presume are dolomitic by nature. I could totally imagine the volcanic extrusions happening and then being worn away by erosion. Interestingly, we didn’t see much sign of erosion in Ethiopia, but there is a lot of it in Kenya.
Also on the road to Lalibela, and we gather you see them from the other direction too, you come across these old army tanks, relics from the war with Eritrea, and rather out of place in the rural landscape. Our friend Sam, who came from the other direction, saw some too, with a very enterprising local girl using the cannon to do her gymnastic displays, presumably for some extra income!
All the way through Ethiopia, but particularly on the southern section, we were treated to very rural scenes of people using sickles to cut down the hay that grows so easily in this very fertile country, and stacking it into both small and very large haystacks. Sometimes we saw them threshing wheat or some other staple too. It put me in mind of paintings that line the halls of some English hotels, of idyllic rural scenes with people out in the fields.
Despite my moaning and groaning about being ‘thrown with a stone’ by Ethiopian kids, the majority of them are really sweet, and clearly just responding to previous encounters with tourists when they shout ‘you, you, you’ and ‘pen, pen, pen’. These two, though, were genuinely delighted when I stopped on the side of the road to adjust my sunglasses and wipe my visor clean and we engaged in a brief but non-verbal interchange. They very kindly picked up my compass for me, which fell out as I opened up my tank bag. When I took their picture, and then showed it to them, this was their response. Too cute!
On the way to the southern border of Ethiopia, having finally sorted out the rear wheel on Cathy’s bike (temporarily), we stayed halfway in a wonderful campsite known as Adenium Campsite. It’s located not far from Lake Awasa, so we took a stroll down to the shore and were treated to our first sighting of African Fish Eagles – four in total. Their distinctive and, for me, very symbolic calls filled the air; and as they took flight to swoop over the rippling water, I had one of those moments when you’re so filled with joy you think you just might burst. So you see, it’s not all bad!
These chaps were fishing at Lake Awasa, presumably for their dinner (though they did try to sell us some as well). Chattering away to each other as they fished, they didn’t really bother with us at all, and as we left were thrilled to have their picture taken. They weren’t so thrilled with the disappearance of their goat, who decided to follow us on our way home, so when they did eventually shout ‘you, you, you’ in the way everyone does in Ethiopia they had a genuine reason for doing so.