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April 26, 2007

The Bureaucratic Run Around

LOCATION: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Longitude: N:09deg.03.
Latitude: E: 038deg.42.
Kms from Djibouti: 898

It's coming up on three weeks now being stuck in Addis, waiting on this visa. When I visited Mr Waheed at the Sudan Embassy on Monday I was told that Khartoum had responded, but that I needed to re-request the visa from the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Khartoum via my own embassy. Mr Waheed looked delighted at the news. I tried to share the enthusiasm but inwardly my heart sank. This sounded like the beginnings of a good old bureaucratic run-around, with no end in sight.

My contact at the Brit Embassy here in Addis doesn't seem to think that this is basically a way of saying 'no' following increased pressure being exerted by the UN/US/UK on the Sudan government to halt the shipment of arms to the Darfur region. 'It's just the Sudanese being the Sudanese - tricky', they told me.

So the application process has to be started all over again through this different channel. Until now the layover has been OK, affording time to work on the website and catch up on a bunch of correspondence that has been on a back-burner for ages. I have a basic but clean room at the Hotel Wanza costing 70 Birr ($8 USD) a night. A small desk allows me to work at the computer and I can even cook in the toilet with my MSR stove to save money. But this morning, for the first time since leaving England in 1994, my 'to do' list is empty and I'm beginning to twiddle thumbs.


Aside from running out of things to do and losing all my fitness the only serious impact is on the completion of the circumnavigation before the European winter sets in later this year. One idea to make best use of time was to complete another section of the ride through Ethiopia from Dessie to Gonder, taking about a week, then return for the visa. But it turns out the flights are $300 USD - too expensive, and the bus takes 2-days each way, again not really worth it. So the only option it seems is just to sit tight here in the Big Smoke.


On a more positive note the Moksha shipping drive has now topped the halfway mark thanks to recent pledges from John and Bridget Maxwell, Jenny Mackenzie (of Central American leg fame) and a very generous chunk from Karl Kaseoru. Thank you all!

Also we've had one laptop donation for the Sahaj Sankalp kids from the Brady's of Educational Safaris in California - thanks guys. If anyone else has an older model laptop lying redundant please reference the previous blog entry.

In other news Erden Eruc of Around 'n Over is about the set out on his own circumnavigation by human power: first riding south from his hometown of Seattle, then rowing the Pacific from San Francisco to Australia starting early June.

Erden is embarking on a true circumnavigation that not only includes crossing two pair of antipodal points, thereby ensuring legitimacy with Guinness World Records and continuing the historic legacy of circumnavigations completed by similar criteria, but also climbing several of the world's highest peaks en route. Best of luck Erden!


> Total to raise: $4,500
> Total raised to date: $2,400
> Total still to raise: $2,100

Sincerest thanks to the following for your pledges -
- Karl Kaseoru, US, $500
- John and Bridget Maxwell, UK, $50
- Jennifer Mackenzie, US, $50
- Ian McCormick, UK, $200
- Terry Mason, California USA, $200
- 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
- John Caldwell, San Jose USA, $100
- Greg Kolodziejzyk of Pedal the Ocean, Canada, $250

Posted on April 26, 2007 8:16 AM