It’s been 21 days since we entered Ethiopia crossing the border from Sudan. Out of the 10 countries the tour goes through, Ethiopia is by far the one where we spend the most amount of time. For a comparison, in Kenya, our next country, we will spend around 10 days. It was 21 very intense days. The Blue Nile Gorge, the Abra Minch Lakes region full of Baboons, storches and other wildlife, the ride up to 3200 meters, the dirt climbs before Yabello
The Ethiopians are a chapter apart in this story. They are the most different and culturally independent people I have ever seen. One of the first things that one will notice about them is that they still live in a very similar way to what they did in the past. Despite colonization attempts, on growing tourism and access to internet, as soon as you leave the capital Addis Ababa, you will go through a time warp as you approach the country side. The “shy” locals gather around us on lunch and on camp, admired with the way we do every small thing, from the way we wash our dishes to the colorful spandex we wear, every move we take brings good and loud laughs. Off course that this avid curiosity of theirs ends up becoming lack of privacy for some people, and the interaction with the locals become a very energy consuming thing to the already exhausted riders of the “TDA circus”.
Naturally born and grown in Ethiopia, Amanuel and Rebecca decided to join us from Cairo all the way to Moyale (Ethiopia/Kenya border). Despite having spent their whole youth in Ethiopia, they had never been in the country side, and after 2 decades in the USA, they are definitely discovering their home country with us. Tomorrow, as we reach the Kenyan border, they were supposed (on their original plans) to leave us and head back to Addis, but in total disagreement with the ecotourism first rule of “take nothing but photos”, we will take these 2 Ethiopian nuts all the way to Cape Town. Having sold all their belongings in the USA, and decided to move back to Africa (South Africa), it didn’t take me a lot to convince them, who never really thought they would make it to Ethiopia on their bikes.
As this is a game of winning and losing, our chef James, on his third TDA, is leaving us in Nairobi. We will also loose son and father Matthew and Paul, from Canada. Paul did the second half with his wife in 2008, and decided to complete the first half as well, brought his son along.
As we leave all this behind, there is a whole new world ahead of us as we cross the border. As soon as we reach the border, we will be the TDA popular northern Kenya larva rock roads, so feared by most riders. The Masai, members of a very interesting tribe in Kenya and Tanzania, are also something to look forward to see. We are also getting very close to the half of the tour, only a couple of days after Nairobi. As every day arrives some day, we are going through many of the places that most of us have been dreaming for months, even years.
So, as sad as it is to leave Ethiopia behind, Kenya, here we go!!! (or as we will learn soon, “Kenya, Hapa Twakuja”.
— Cristiano Werneck