It was time to bid farewell to Northern Kenya , her great hospitality and those roads , Ethiopia was not even a kilometre away , so after breakfast we packed up and headed out , the crossing out of Kenya was just great , the customs official offered me a seat and some of his samosas for breakfast , scanned and stamped me out and I was on my way . The immigration process on the Ethiopian side was fantastic , and I was stamped in , all that was left to do was get my Carne signed , stamped and   with so many hours left I was convinced our first night stop would be Dilla 400 kilometres from the border .

 

The sign a reflection of what the welcome was to be.

The sign a reflection of what the welcome was to be.

 

I took a walk across the road , to customs , found the office open ,  no staff ,  just very unhelpful police . I was told by a money changer that he would have to phone the customs officer to come and stamp me in . It being a Sunday they don’t work and if they do come in that there  is  an overtime charge . So my five hour ordeal started .

I met Mohammed a clearing agent while I was waiting and he offered to help me , he phoned the supervisor , who promised to send an official  , and so we waited , by now me fearing I might have to return to Kenya and try again in the morning .

The police , so many , so unruly , having the run of the small border  town , their uniforms worn as badges of fear and  authority , yet dishevelled , no pride , all about big guns , cammo and ammo  , like bandits they roam . So I  waited an observer of border life with my new friend Mohammed  , as the hours ticked by.

Eventually the customs official arrives , what a nice guy , introduces himself , shakes my hand asks me a few questions and that I should follow him into the office . In passing he mentions the overtime , but he is glad to help me . Finally we can be on our way , the noon gun long sounded and I needed to get going . Thinking I was only minutes away from my departure , so began another chapter  . I was transported to a world that only existed in slow motion . His movements so slow they formed their own shadow  , his pen stuttering and stammering across the official documents , duplicate , triplicate , more questions and so time dragged . I just needed one more piece of paper , he turns to me and those words , please wait I need to phone  the examiner to come and verify the chassis and engine number . The call made and so we waited ,  so I stood , so I sat , so I paced , so he paused . Finally just after 14h00 Vic and I said our farewells to Mohammed who without him I might still be there , we went in search of petrol.

This was to be equally frustrating only one of the 4 I tried had regular but I had to wait for the power to return , tank full tyre pressure done at a price we set off . I had to change my destination for the night to  the town of Yabello , luckily only 200 kilometres from the border , a breeze . Then I saw the condition of the road , diversion signs to many  to count , road works , trucks , busses ,  we were back on mini hell road , the first 100 kilometres like a teenagers first bad acne  outbreak , it would just not clear .  I was thinking to myself , this is one of those days the sun beats us home .

 

Harsh and dry , you wonder how life exists out here.

Harsh and dry , you wonder how life exists out here.

 

The landscape started changing , white dryness replaced  by red dryness , more anthills I have never seen , the diversions covered in that fine red powder Vic hates so much , it clogs her pores terribly . So the first 100 kilometres haunted us .

 

The teenage outbreak.

The teenage outbreak.

 

You have to wonder , how do people do it ?

You have to wonder , how do people do it ?

 

One of the many that fill your vision as you ride.

One of the many that fill your vision as you ride.

 

In this place the only colour  comes from the clothes the people wear , the sand and the pale blue haze you find surrounding the mountains in the distance , in this place hard labour returns to the roadside , the wind and sun  the dominant constant .

 

Big sky country , must be amazing at night with all those stars out.

Big sky country , must be amazing at night with all those stars out.

 

I must  have inadvertently rubbed a genie lamp , before my eyes it appeared , smooth as silk , wide and dreamy , the road that  took us to Yabello Motel before the sun and  moon changed guard  .

 

Just look at that dream road.

Just look at that dream road.

 

Yabello Motel where you trade big dollar bills for no frills , where being a faranji ( foreigner )  costs you double ,  the pricelists compiled with invisible ink , rooms that have not experienced fresh in years , a shower that shocks while the dribble tries to make its way onto your skin. That been said the shower done , sitting out under the trees having my first Ethiopian coffee , heaven it could have been.

 

Trusted Vic

Trusted Vic

 

Please sir , more.

Please sir , more.

 

Yabello junction.

Yabello junction.

 

Some glow some no.

Some glow some no.

 

Light starts to fade , the heat of the day replaced by a cool evening breeze , carrying words I have never heard  until this night , mixed with German , Italian and loud claps , as the locals demand service . I sit once again the observer in a place that feels ever so café life , sipping my macchiato . I look to my left the neon motel sign flickers to life , as night arrives ,  not in its entirety but enough to beckon the weary traveller . I initiate myself with a Ethiopian red as the plump  moon , still a little coy using a cloud or two to cover her fullness rises . The customs , the ragged  road , washed away as the delicious red of the wine and hypnotic moon take my mind to beautiful Ethiopia .

 

No it's 250 ml . Need you ask?

No it’s 250 ml . Need you ask?

 

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail