So, Week 13. It was still only really the start of the holidays, so I celebrated this delicious fact by sleeping a lot, and eating out with friends/students, A LOT, including at an over-priced expat hot-spot called O-Zone in the middle of a roundabout in Amarat. “HOW INTERESTING…” I hear you cry. Fear not. I shall prove it was all terribly exciting with this picture of a menu from a restaurant on Nile Street. Choosing what to eat was certainly a challenge. “Lotous Groton garlic olive oils”? Yes please. Or perhaps the “Youg egg yellows egg –Persil”? Despite being a big fan of washing powder with my dinner, I’m afraid I just went for a burger. Next time guys.
Having no idea where we were, he ran off behind some shops to er… do what he needed to do, leaving me to ponder where exactly we were and how we would get to where we needed to be. Luckily, before too long, a man started gesturing frantically at me, rubbing his belly and pointing at some buildings nearby. Turns out, he was not trying to eat me, but knew where my friend was, and found me somewhere to sit with some old Sudanese chaps, who were very pleased that I knew what Manchester United. Before long, The Gaping Newzealander emerged, which seemed to the old guys as the perfect moment for a photo opportunity with us. Just what you want after an Emergency Illness Episode right? Sudaaan.
With a combination of about three Arabic words and some interpretative dance (how should one gesture wrestling? I have no idea), we managed to get a rickshaw to the wrestling area, where things were well and truly on their way already. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but definitely not the size or excitement of the crowds, nor the weird foot-grabbing of the wrestlers. I guess I don’t know much about wrestling. Anyway, it was great fun to watch, especially every time a wrestler ‘won’ and the crowd went nuts. Here are some photos of dusty Sudanese men grappling with each other.
The race was then on to get home, pack, say a long sad goodbye to Jefferson Rabbit (who would be fed like a king by our lovely neighbour all week), and catch the last bus to Gedarif, in the east of Sudan. Somehow, we managed to do all of that, and after a sweaty eight hour bus ride (cue awful films no one has ever heard of, atrocious music and dodgy Sudanese comedy), we reached our destination. We were lucky enough to be staying with The SVP Coordinator’s cousin on his family’s traditional farm, and were immediately welcomed with beds and blankets, all out in the open air under the stars before being presented with delicious fresh milk and sugar-pasta. Delicious midnight sugar-pasta. The night itself was fun, as various farm animals kept rustling about nearby, and one tiny cousin woke up The Tedious Englishman at some point for some sort of water-can based conversation in Arabic. Read Week 14 below for more on this treaty of a narrative.
- The Tedious Englishman managed to drop the soap down the Sudanese toilet in the bathroom.
- Jefferson bit me. But he now also lets me stroke him. If I give him an appropriately-sized carrot first.
- At certain points of the evening, the ants in the kitchen literally just fall off the work surfaces. Like, scamper along, and then just fall off. What the hell is that? They have also started living in the toilet. I really hate ants.
I woke up in Gedarif to find a large chicken family clucking about around my bed, several relatives literally sitting and staring at us, and an inexplicable toothpick in my hair. Confused, but excited, we had coffee with the family, before heading out for a three hour bus ride to Jalabat, most of which was spent trying to avoid the guy next to us spitting seeds out on to the floor/The Tedious Englishman’s incredibly sensible, and otherwise pristine, travelling trousers.
My first experience of the place was the equally tiny border town of Metema, which seems to be a hub of prostitution, drinking and people trying to rip you off over various types of transport. Though not altogether in a bad way. It was immediately a lot more colourful than any town I’ve seen in Sudan, and seeing hosts of women with their hair, arms and legs out was pretty refreshing after living in Khartoum for 3 months.
Apparently it wasn’t ok, as he then put his arm tightly around my neck and wouldn't let go of me, looking absolutely terrified and shouting a lot. At this point, one of the people on the bus turned to me and said “He wants you to drive the bus”. Erm….WHAT? That demand didn't last long, as people then helped get him off me, and he then attached himself to The Tedious Englishman instead, refusing to release him, and almost pushing him into oncoming lorries. This went on for a long confusing time, before he eventually let go and ran off up the mountain, quickly pursued by several men from the bus. Eventually, we all clambered back in the bus and trundled up the mountain. When we passed Crying Man, The Tedious Englishman muttered somewhat thoughtfully “He’s got an axe”. Oh goody.
Time passed, the sun began to set, and I got increasingly worried that we would never reach Gonder. T’was then that Crying Man appeared, his hands tied behind his back, being led by a very angry looking army officer. Initially, this was reassuring. Only then….he put him back on the bus. And hit him several times, encouraging other men from the bus to join in, which was horrendous to witness. We then drove a little further, until coming to a small town where the driver stopped outside a bus station and handed over Crying Man to the police, though not before what looked the whole town had crowded around him to see what was going on. Children came to smile at and chat to us from the bus windows while we waited which was quite nice, until one asked my name. I said “Emily”, and this seemed to cause three of us them to run away as fast possible. THANKS THEN.
to have a lot of grass on the floor... A man in one of these asked us if we or Wayne Rooney were in the Royal family.
INTUITION. Or something.
We were having some beers and enjoying the powercut (hello candles), when said 'friend' suggested taking us to a bar
with gin and live music. Both of these it did indeed have, and to be fair, the dancers were amazing, all shakey
shoulders and jumping for hours. There was also a fun music man who was literally playing a chair leg on a box with some
However, as we were about to leave, he then insisted that we pay 250 birr for everything (we had 2 gins and a beer between us - this was an insane amount). Much arguing ensued, to the point where we left a more-than-acceptable amount of money and stormed out (literally into a storm as it happens), only to be followed out by said 'friend', who was insistent on trying to rip us off. My favourite part was when he said to The Tedious Englishman, "I think you are not from England. You are from Somalia". Racist and a wanker, excellent.
On Saturday, we got up early and caught a bus to Bahir Dar. The ride itself felt more like we were in Ireland than Ethiopia, with constant rain, grey hills and livestock everywhere. Mmmmm agriculture.
Within a minute or so, the whole place was teeming with candles - lovely. Rickshaw ride home in the rain - slightly less lovely.
market in the glorious mud. It also included A BAD THING. The Tedious Englishman, who had spent most of
the day in bed being all hungover and pathetic, was robbed in the most ridiculous way, with a chap barging into him and
then being all "OH SORRY, SORRY" *touch, touch, grab*. Luckily, he did this so obviously that everyone's favourite
Englishman simply saw his wallet in the guy's hand, and... took it back. WORST ROBBERY EVER.
Tana, dinner at a rooftop restaurant, and then drinks on a floating cafe on the lake while the rain continued to pour down.
Dar and were immediately swamped by people wanting to take us to a bus, so they could then charge us for the 'service'
of pointing out the right one. My favourite part was when our very Persistent Little Helper said the cost of the bus
was 270 birr (we had paid 55 to get there). The Tedious Englishman immediately replied "No, it isn't", and so we paid the bus driver the actual amount (65 birr). Unperturbed by being caught out as a massive bus-wanker, Persistent
Little Helper then demanded that we give him loads of money. "GIVE ME SERVICE! GIVE ME SERVICE!" was shouted a lot,
along with a lot of pinching The Tedious Englishman's t-shirt, as if he kept his money in his nipples. This went on for a
stupid amount of time, until eventually he accepted 10 birr and fucked off. Excellent start.
At one point during the journey, the bus stopped to let someone off and this happened:
The next day, tired, sweaty, and fresh out of pants, we caught one more sodding bus back to Khartoum. And only one tyre burst on the way, so that wasn't too bad. THUS ENDED OUR ETHIOPIAN ADVENTURE! And what a weird and wet adventure it was. I missed you a little bit Sudan.
Until next week, laterz.