gondar to addis ababa.
‘It was 20km up a steep climb, the sun was brutal, the weight of my bike nearly pulled me backwards and it took over 2 hours of continually grinding away… I loved it’ – me re: blue nile gorge
So I write this from a nice hotel on our second rest day in the Ethiopian capital, Abbis Ababa. After leaving Gondar and my last blog entry we have journeyed through a vast amount of the Ethiopian countryside. It’s been a rolling (understatement) landscape that has showcased the fertile lands of this country. With an apparent 80% of the workforce in the fields it makes it that bit harder to see some natural vegetation. The few seen sections of heavily wooded areas are predominantly made up of eucalypts which at times makes it hard to realize that were not back home. When utilizing them for shade the flocks of local kids seemingly emerging from nowhere quickly remind us that we’re indeed in Africa.
Despite already being in the ‘highlands’ the thoughts of hills ending was quickly diminished. The last few days have literally been like a rollercoaster without the downhill thrills. The ‘highlight’ of all of this was much talked about Blue Nile gorge. It’s a gorge that looks like a rip has been taken from the earth’s surface, a deep rip. Gavan compared it to the Grand Canyon only more dramatic. So it started with a 20km decent which was hampered by a very rough road, perhaps made more so when the fore mentioned ripping happened. This slowed the descent down to a mere 60km/h in smooth parts (for the record we have managed to get up to 78km/h on other days). Greeting us at the bottom were some local road cyclists with actual road bikes who were on an awareness ride from their opposing cities. It was at this point I was hoping to merely swap bikes for the awaiting climb thinking that an 8kg bike might make it a tad easier than my 40kg hog. As mentioned at the top despite the difficulties I really enjoyed the climb (as with most) for the accumulation of the 2 hour rhythm of turning the pedals over, the challenge that was faced around each switchback corner, the final accomplishment and also the continual views over the gorge. The feeling of ‘knocking this one over’ was replayed again over the proceeding days lwhen we reached our highest point of our ride approximately 3200m. Now if only it was downhill for the next 8500kms…
So finally it was into Addis where we arrived after another 160km ‘mad dash’ to ensure the already unwell Gavan could have a nice hotel and some ‘normal’ food. For the rest of us that were feeling ok we were more than that happy to satisfy his needs. There are only so many times one can have injera (local bread) with a topping of tibs (lamb) before it gets a little repetitive and the lack of greens. Perhaps we need to work out a few more local terms besides bread, meat and rice.
So now that we’ve been presented with various options in the capital indulgencies have included hamburgers, fries, pizzas, milkshakes, fruit, muesli etc… It’s a common theme to sway a little from the traditional offerings when available. Time has also been spent having a sauna, massage and watching movies on TV that one wouldn’t normally bother with back at home. Oh also managed to check out some local churches and the national museum including the really impressive human evolution display. The display did really well of representing the countries origins in human history.
Leaving the luxurious life tomorrow it’s back on the bikes to continue with the journey. Having time to relax its allowed revelations of how much we’ve been fortunate enough to experience in the past month whether this be visiting the now topical Tahrir Square, the Sahara or the various people we’ve met. Gone are the memories of hard days on the bike with the thought of a tough day on a bike in Africa certainly beating a tough day in the ‘office’. The bike which at times seems to generate the hard times has allowed this journey for us all to date.
Apologies for this entry being so short but I better get back to the TV, its missing me. Looking forward to spending the next week cycling through the southern parts of Ethiopia before heading into Kenya. As always thanks for the comments and emails.