After three relaxing days in the lake town of Hawassa it was time to move on to the ancient city of Harar in the East of the country , a ride that would take me two days to cover the close to 700 kilometres . We started off in the cool morning mist leaving an already bustling town full of people taking their produce to market , the roads full of people , livestock , the gari loaded to capacity being pulled by a couple of bouncing donkeys , the blue Bajaj ferrying the population anywhere and everywhere . In Ethiopia the roads really are full of life of all kinds , one has to maintain very high levels of concentration to navigate these roads , focus , focus I keep repeating to myself.
The ride was to be a very interesting one from a landscape perspective that took me from the lush , green farm lands through deep black volcanic rock strewn bad lands , then back into the dry dusty arid flat before being delivered to a place much like Lesotho , valleys , mountains and the deep enchanting Ethiopian green .
On the ride up I passed 5 hyena’s being devoured by vultures roadside , in very populated areas , to many truck carcasses to mention , more truck accidents to add to the road litter , a whole lot of camels and a traffic apocalypse involving hundreds vehicles all stationary , waiting for a jack-knifed truck to be cleared . How I love two wheels , as we left the tar and went dust side to carry on our journey , hardly missing a beat.
I made it up to a town called Awash , where I met Doctor Lemessa from Harar university , while grabbing a cold water and filling up Vic , we got chatting and he advised me to push on another 100 kilometres to escape the dreadful heat and dust of Awash to a small town called Chiro , damn glad I did what a reprieve it offered in the lovely tranquil setting.
One has to cross the Awash river to continue up to Harar , unbeknown to me it is a military zone and no motorcycles are allowed to cross unless they have been granted permission and a permit in Addis. I knew none off this so down we rode bobbing and weaving amonst the trucks , dust and chaos we bounced to emerge on the other side , how I managed to miss the two check points is still beyond me , maybe the chaos and bad road condition that gives you the feeling you are in the eye of a dust storm . As Vic and I came over the rise we where met with very hostile and surprised personal who had no idea how we managed to get across the bridge . Spikes pulled across the road in front of us , arms at the ready we came to a very surprised and abrupt halt . The language barrier was again to be an issue . My heart racing I tried to explain who I was where I was going , got all my documents out , finally after a very stressfull time all was sorted out and all parties via various means of communication departed as friends .
Ethiopians seem to love South Africans as our late president spent time here training and he is highly revered here as in most parts of the world , but Ethiopians seem to have an exceptional love for our Madiba , all know of him and his time in Ethiopia and in a way , proudly have adopted him into their history , so between Madiba and that precious green and gold document we proceeded to our destination . So a word of warning if you are on two wheels and by any chance want to go up to Harar make sure you stop explain as best you can , get the authorities to call and get you permission , the other alternative is to put your bike on the back of a pick up and get driven across. This is allowed and encouraged .
After a few very deep breaths and finding some good music I rode for Chiro Town . A little Oasis it was , great food , very helpful staff in a cool calm setting , so I sat down to dinner to reflect on my very hectic day and was glad to have the sun set on us here , tomorrow we ride for the city of Harar , the place that is home to the hyena men .
For those who rode up to Lesotho earlier this year , I was having flashbacks to those green wet mountains , those steep inclines that robbed Victoria of her ability to clear the 30 kilometre per hour mark , those treacherous downhill’s , those sharp curves and those unbelievable views that clear your nostrils and mind by beauty and then fear of not making the corner , enjoying a flight unscheduled to a messy landing .
The ride up from Awash to Harar takes you through Oromo country , where you are privileged to experience the magic colour and incredible beauty of these people while you ride the snake and ladder like roads .The woman definitely do all the work , at best I think the men leave the shade of a tree to relieve themselves and then return to the tree. The woman on the other hand tall , elegant and beautiful , dressed like a celebration , fill the land in their bright colours hard at work , doing everything from tilling the land , tending to the livestock , collecting wood and water , so we rode amazed by the beauty , touched by the people and inspired by their cultural magnificence , still so intact and practiced .
So well fed and less frazzled off to bed , for tomorrow Harar .
Until we meet again.