I woke up early today to start this trip. The driver and interpreter arrived at the hotel around 7 am for what we were told was going to be a 400km drive to BELTO but it’s so small that it does not even show up on the map and since I never checked the map in the first place I just assumed that was the distance. A woman from the SalaamGarage trip will also be joining me, her name is Ponzi Black she is a multi media consultant who will be posting her point of view with photos, blogging and video. We take the short drive over to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital to pick up Kedira and Kemeru. They are waiting for us in the driveway with just the few possessions they showed up with over a month ago. Of course they are wearing their traditional clothing.
Kedira on the left was the one that first thought I was one of the missionaries who was going to bring her home. Well not quite but I guess not too far off either. Kemeru on the right often has a stoic look on her face, or at least that is all I have seen so far. We all pile into the Toyota with the Yousef our interpreter and our driver whose name I never really got. The ride out of Addis was slow even at that early time of day. The roads are always congested and it seems we are constantly stopping and starting but not because of the normal traffic issues. No we are stopped because goats, or horses are busy crossing the street. The air is thick with pollution as environmental concerns are just not on the radar yet. Black smoke pours out of the trucks as I hold my breath. Coughing has been a big problem for me for the better part of a month since I started getting my shots and is not made any easier with the air in this city. There are no traffic lights here so the cars move at a slow steady dance getting close but not quite colliding. We ease out of town and hit the highway. As I look to either side of the car I see people, so many people just walking one place or the other.
It seems like we are on the road for only a few hours when Yousef says we will stop for lunch. No problem I say but honestly it seems kind of soon. Maybe this guy is union and he has his scheduled coffee breaks. Coffee, that is something that is going to play a MAJOR part it turns out. Our lunch stop is at this beautiful place called Dreamland and it has a great view of a lake view out back. To my surprise they actually have the Wifi’s so I sign on and check my email.
Back on the road after lunch. The girls did not feel comfortable sitting in the restaurant so they went back to the truck. It was an uneventful day with tons of driving. I seemed to have to pee a thousand times and nobody else does. Am I that old? We finally arrived at the Awash National Park to sleep in a hotel. Yousef says that Ponzi and I could stay there but the girls and the driver as well as him would stay at a less expensive place. I didn’t care where they stayed but as far as I was concerned the girls would be staying at the hotel. After all it amounted to all of about $18.00 for the night. They may never sleep in a bed like that again I told myself.