Ethiopia - Moyale to Dila
Thu 6 Nov
It took longer to clear formalities than I expected, what with the need to show health certificates and being subject to a customs search, but everything was in order. I noticed from the paper work that in Ethiopia the date is 26-2-96, though Iím not sure if I felt 7Ĺ years younger.
I walked up the hill, up the tarmac road, past the bus station, and cashed a travellerís cheque at the bank just before it closed. It felt that I was back in the clutches of civilisation.
Fri 7 Nov
Five minutes before the agreed time and still quite dark I went outside to wait. I had bought a bus ticket the previous afternoon, chosen a seat and agreed with the conductor that the bus would pick me up from outside the hotel. 30 minutes later, now light enough to see, the bus came along. Alarmingly it didnít stop. Oh well, more fool me for trying to be so clever. I assumed there was no way I could catch up with it, and there were no other buses later in the day. I decided to continue waiting by the roadside. With any luck a Land Cruiser with a spare seat would come past, some chance. When I saw the second bus it occurred to me that I may not have missed my bus after all, donít they all look the same? However, this too was full and passed by without stopping. The third bus stopped for me. In fact it was my intended bus with my seat empty and waiting. What a relief, only 50 minutes later than I was given to understand, but I didnít care.
We stopped at a roadblock on the edge of town for a routine customs check and everyone had to disembark while officials searched the vehicle and our luggage. Only after this was the luggage properly secured on the roof and covered with a tarpaulin. We had four more stops for the customs police enroute. I did see some black plastic packets move around between searches, whenever I asked people talked of Kenyan blankets and soap powder. The lorry I had caught up through northern Kenya had a lifetime supply of "magic balls" (sugar coated bubble gums) and once I had crossed the border I saw piles of these at the customs post. Only thing Iím aware the customs police found and confiscated was small quantities of these.
First half of the dayís journey was mostly scrub, as in northern Kenya, though hills around got closer and the Mega escarpment may well be worth trekking sometime. We stopped for lunch at a hotel and had some stewed meat served with spicy sauce and "injera" (a kind of pancake made from fermented dough and served cold). This is definitely an acquired taste and one a visitor to Ethiopia should get used to quickly. The entire population of Ethiopia eats injera at least once a day. The second half was more mountainous (like Rwanda): mist, wooded buildings, "inset" (banana like plants) grown for their leaves, coffee plantations, pretty women, cute kids. Green green green.
We reached Dila in the late afternoon. Our bus had covered 439km in 8Ĺ hrs driving. I bought some bread, water, an Ethiopian scarf, a coffee pot and had a haircut for 4Birr (about US$0.50)
Ethiopia - Moyale to Dila