Right on the border we marveled for the first time about the modern facility at the customs office. Computer with cameras, fingerprint scanner and air conditioning. In addition, one immediately notices, after all the Arab countries, that here in Ethiopia beer is drunk and the women without headscarf can show themselves in public. From the beginning it was now up the mountain. There are people everywhere. Finding a campsite was not so easy. In Sudan, that went without a problem. Cycling around the area, people (especially children) are constantly calling Faranji, You You You or Money Money Money! At first it's funny, but pretty soon it gets on your nerves. On the first day we ordered an Injera in the restaurant.
As a staple food and practically every meal, the plate-sized flatbread Injera, made from the flour of the millet-type cereal Teff, is served. Serving as an "edible" plate, since in Ethiopia it is only eaten with the right hand for hygienic reasons, it replaces the cutlery. Various sauces, called Wott, are served, which are prepared in various vegetarian and meat-containing versions.
Soon it went right up and the first stones came flying. Especially with the climbs you are helpless as a cyclist delivered to the children. First we tried to talk to the little beasts. However, these learn only the most important English words to get something. If they do not succeed, they become really aggressive. Several times they tried to tear our water bottles off the bike or open the bags. The only remedy was the stick to drive them out. Pretty soon, it all turned into a daily war. Partly the adults tried to help us. But they were powerless against a group of 30-50 children.
My mood was already after a short time on the low point. What a stark contrast to the wonderful Sudan! The disaster happened on the third day: We had already covered more than 70km and more than 1,200 vertical meters. It started slowly to get dark and nowhere was a campsite in sight. Suddenly a small forest appeared at the roadside. We asked a farmer if we could set up our tents here. To thank for his permission, we gave him some cookies.
After he disappeared, 4 teenagers appeared. For a brief moment I read my bike out of sight. When I turned around the backpack was open. Three doses of food were missing. I ran after the kids, to no avail. Frustrated, we packed our things together and tried to stop a bus in the street to drive to Gondar. At the end, the driver wanted an outrageous 1'000 Birr (about 50.- USD) for the 20km ride! With much negotiation we then paid the idiot 200 birr.
The next day we tried to find all the ways to somehow get to Addis Ababa. We got to know Effrem from the lodge Fasil. He apologized very much for what had happened to us and immediately invited us to camp with him in the lodge for free. Wow!
He took us to a village the next day. There lives a part of his family. With great pride, they showed us how to farm their fields. I was more appalled about that. Everything reminded me of the Stone Age. A well-educated farmer could generate ten times the yield of the right machinery and infrastructure here than the whole village together. No wonder there is a famine in this country.
In addition, the only fuel is wood. Most of the forests have already disappeared. In Sudan, I've seen huge reforestation projects. However, nobody seems to realize that the cutting down of primary forests causes the groundwater level to drop, that erosion occurs and the soil dries up continuously. There is something good in Ethiopia but still: The coffee here is really one of the best that I have drunk so far.
At least we decided to cycle around Lake Tana to Bahir Dar at the source of the Blue Nile. However, we should soon regret this decision. From now on we stayed only in pensions or hotels. For our own protection.
On the second day the road passed over 2 passes. Again, there are just everywhere people and logically, accordingly, many children. Everyone is walking on the streets. At the second pass, the next accident happened: In the middle of the hellish slope (a gradient of less than 10% can hardly be found in Ethiopia), a horde of children came running. The adults in the village did not do anything at all but were still amused by our predicament.
Suddenly, in my rearview mirror, I saw the kids pull out his mattress from Zoltan's rear wheel bag. Just in time I was able to turn my bike and chase the damn suction furnace away. At the same moment a big stone flew past my head. That was enough. Angered, I ran back to the village with my stick and shouted at the miserable adults in Swiss German. God damn shit again! These parents get kids like rabbits but are unable to raise them. I have never experienced such a miserable mess in any country on my travels! It was not missing much and I would have processed one of the idiots to minced meat.
In Addis Zemen we stopped a truck, which then took us the remaining 80km to Bahir Dar. There we were able to recover from the hardships at the Manuhie Backpackers Lodge. We also met Alexa, Susanne and Martin from Germany, who took us the next day to the waterfalls of the Blue Nile.
The name represents an inaccurate translation of the Arabic word Azraq, which also means dark next to blue. The dark color of the Blue Nile is caused by the large amount of floating cargo of fine-grained soil originating from the Abyssinian highlands of Ethiopia. The Tisissat Falls are considered one of the main tourist attractions of Ethiopia. However, they have been severely affected since large volumes of water passed the falls past the nearby Tis Abay power plants, and since 2010, water has been drained from Lake Tana to the Tana Beles power plants. Before the construction of the power plant, the waterfall was 400m wide and was considered the second largest waterfall in Africa during the rainy season. Today only one gutter is left. All tourists pay five times the price of the locals. This discrimination takes place throughout the country. What would happen if we did the same in Europe with our tourists?
Nati, from the Menuhie Lodge helped us find a suitable bus to Addis Ababa, which would also take our bikes. The ride on the Selam bus was very comfortable and all the luggage arrived undamaged after a 12 hour drive in the capital. Zoltàn decided to leave the country as soon as possible and recover from the Ethiopians on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. But before that there was a reunion with the BAND OF BROTHERS. Matthias and Marco arrived one day after us and Michael too. Except Marco, all the others have decided to travel by plane from the country. Henri and Clive, whom we also met in Khartoum, also joined us.
With Oliver and Piu I was allowed to stop my bike. Oliver works at the Swiss embassy in Addis Ababa and was recommended to me by a friend. The two spoiled me for a weekend in their house with Playstation, beer, a warm shower, delicious food and even Swiss cheese! That was balm for my soul! At Wim's Holland House we also met Martin from Australia. He started with his enduro from Cape Town and now tries to reach the North Cape by land.
All together had had the same experiences with the children here in Ethiopia. We spent several hours discussing the cause of this behavior. Even the adults on the move stretch out their hand to greet them with a friendly greeting. From our point of view, aid organizations and the United Nations are the main problem. Often we observe how the vehicles of the NGO's stopped in the villages and handed the children huge bags of sweets and pens. You can not drive through a single village in Ethiopia without seeing at least one tablet from any of the countless organizations that operate in this country. But even the church with its fundamental faith is a problem. Add to this the corrupt and incompetent government, which puts the profit in its own pockets.
In education, low literacy rates among adults and low enrollment rates at all levels of formal education are the main problems. Despite the compulsory school attendance and free school attendance, the latter amounts to about 102% in primary school (only 98% for girls), 34% in secondary school (girls 30%), and only 4% at universities. Through the eternal donations, people are developing more and more into consumers. They are no longer used to working for it themselves. Many just sit around all day. Especially the men. Without the women working hard, nothing would work here at all. Education is simply the most important thing for a state. In the first two weeks here in Ethiopia, I have seen what devastating consequences it can have if you neglect this area.
Many people have encouraged me to look at the country for a while before moving on. That's why I'm going to travel by bus.
In Addis Ababa I had to say goodbye to Zoltàn. The time with him was great despite the bad experiences at the end. I will not miss his snoring, but definitely his positive attitude to life.