“Friendly but firm…….”, Awasa Dec. 18th, 2010

Wednesday morning at 4:50am the clock ripped me out of my dream about an air-conditioned bus showing German football while heading south…………….Instead Sam, the 2 Asian and I walked for 30 minutes to the Terra bus station of Addis Abeba. Boy, I knew it would be different but like this…Like a pile of ants, people going around, back and forth, up and down, screaming, yelling, standing quiet. Guys asking me where I want to go, if I want to buy something, if I would give money or where I am from. As the lonely planet suggests I deny everything friendly but firm. Its not easy to combine these 2 but it is essential. Assaulting (not being friendly or even being rote) them leads to serious trouble as Ethiopians are very proud people and not being firm means you have beggars all around you all day. Managing the combination gets you around in Ethiopia quiet easy. However, I did need someone to help. So I choose the guys with a batch on their chest, maybe it means that they are some kind of officials. I learn that they have a ticket booth for each destination they go. For Awasa it is booth 34. Think about it. The man on counter 34 for only sells tickets for the Awasa busses. Yes, this way they keep track and I will get my seat 22 on bus 5007 at 6 or 6:30 or maybe 7:30am but what inefficiency. Let’s call it employment program. After 4 people told me to wait right here I believe it and use the 90 minutes for further observations. The busses are all old and polluting the air greatly but pollution has been a big one already in the Middle East and even more so here in Africa. The difference between 1st 2nd and 3rd class is more or less the condition of the bus. 3rd class the tires are slicks and the breaks…..what breaks??? The piling of thing onto the roofs is done quiet professionally so I am not worried when finally my back pack is put up there as well. The payment of an extra 25 Birr (1€) for that confuses me (I already got my ticket) but oh well. I even give 2 Birr tip to make sure it stays up there. I am learning. Inside they split into 2 benches, left for 3 right for 2 people. I am lucky, being on the side for 2 but the inside seat I can not take as my knees don’t fit in. I must use the ail seat. The road down south is just fine and modern (the Chinese invest here heavily into infrastructure in return for rights on resources, a smarter way of exploding than the colonization in the past) but the driving remains crazy. Two near hit are commented by everyone with a big breath but that anyone would tell the driver to go slower or not to pass in curves is not an option. The 6 hour ride is interrupted by a 20 minute toilet break and occasionally blind and/or handicapped people entering to beg before dropped off later. In Awasa blue Rikschas like in India dominate the streets and I take one to go to the “Circle of Life” Hotel near the lake. It is much more relaxed here vs. Addis Abeba and much cheaper too. A room with satellite TV, shower and toilet is 7,50€ while a room without TV, shower and toilet is 2;70€. Which one would you have taken??? I went for the cheaper one enabling me to have the coming days on a budget below 5€ per day. Cool.

A short trip downtown is followed by playing kicker with the locals in front of the hotel. The deal is 1 Birr each game playing 2 against 2. My partner and I win 10 games, loose 2. That would mean 8 Birr for us, 4 for him and 4 for me. A lot of talking and a lot of money exchanges hands before my partner gets our share, says friendly good bye and leaves happy. Where are my 4 Birr…………..smile. The lake is beautiful but as many but in all Ethiopia is only one lake where it is safe to swim in. Its not the crocodiles, it’s the bacteria that makes it so dangerous. I eat fresh fried fist instead, take sunset photos, have a fantastic hot shower before eating Dinner with Johan, a Belgian. When you meet a white person here, you talk to them.

Thursday I spent all day with Johann at the Children’s house of the “Let us change” organisation. I will have a complete report on this separately including a call for donations. For sunset I went up the mount Awasa. I have never seen the sun go down that fast. Amazing.

Back at the hotel I went only for a soup and soon later I knew why. It ripped me apart. Diarrea at its worst. A terrible night followed and Friday I stayed in bed till 3pm before it got better. The power cut from 6pm all the way to next day’s noon did not help either. Feeling weak I only concentrated on drinking some water. A couple of movies from my hard drive helped a lot to get side tracked. Some pasta stayed in and when going to bed at 9pm I was optimistic about being fine again on Saturday. Actually I wanted to go on Friday but now I need to gain energy again and also I have a small project to do……….see my post named “Let us change.”………………….

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