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April 2, 2007

Crossing The Devil's Playground

Click on image to play video (high speed connection advised).

LOCATION: Ethiopia, 60 miles from the border
Longitude: N:11deg.54.825'
Latitude: E: 041deg.34.807'
Miles from Djibouti: 242

We're now in Ethiopia after a challenging couple of days cutting across country via Lake Assal: the unpaved road marked on the map disintegrated into a camel track at one point and then disappeared altogether while crossing a dried lake bed. Unfortunately this coincided with the hottest part of the day where the temperature reached 48 degrees celcius. This seemed rather severe until we were told by passing travelers how lucky we were to be hitting it at such a cool time: in summer it gets up into the 70s! I can't even begin to imagine how hot that is - another 30 degrees beyond that and one's blood starts to boil.


The Afar nomads who inhabit this region must be as tough as coffin nails. Occasionally we've seem them walking far off in the distance; following a herd of goats or just drifting seemingly aimlessly across the desert. Apart from one water hole with a couple of very depressed looking camels mooching nearby we haven't seen a drop of water in two days; just sand, cracked earth and rocks - billions of rocks. This landscape is like the surface of the moon. Past volcanic activity gives it an other-worldly flavour that screams of extremes: extremes of lifestyle of the people, survival of the plant and animals that dare to inhabit the region. Someone in Djibouti told me that some of the latest version of the 'Planet of the Apes' was filmed here. I can see why. It's like the devil's playground.


But now we're back on tarmac which, although rather unadventurous, is blissful to ride on by comparison. Plus we have a blistering tailwind pushing us along at spanking pace to put us back on schedule for Kenny's flight out of Addis Ababa on the 9th. So far all the Ethiopians we've met have been courteous and friendly. Goods are dramatically cheaper here than in Djibouti which is reliant on importing everything. They also have a cracking beer here also called 'St George' with a picture of the saint in question skewering the said dragon. And the best part is the price - a quarter of the price of a beer in Djibouti.


On another note a big thanks goes out to an avalanche of kind people who have stepped up to the plate for shipping Moksha back to Europe: Erden and Nancy of Around n Over, Sharon Kessler in Pueblo Colorado, Jane Koca from San Jose, California and Greg Kolodziejzyk, also from the US. Your support is hugely appreciated. At this rate we'll be able to get her off that dockside in Djibouti and off to Europe before the African sun, salt air or light fingers do her any more injustice.



> Total to raise: $4,500
> Total raised to date: $1,300
> Total still to raise: 3,200

Sincerest thanks to the following for your pledges -
- Jackie and Jean Bernard, Djibouti, $250.
- Erden Eruc and Nancy Board of Around n Over, Seattle USA, $250
- Sharon Kessler, Colorado USA, $500
- Jane Koca, San Jose USA, $50
- Greg Kolodziejzyk, USA, $250

Posted on April 2, 2007 11:22 PM


It was great to see this video.

Posted by: Lan Bui [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2007 8:10 PM