I could tell right away that I was going to love Ethiopia: my bus left right on time, with just one person in each seat. There weren’t mysterious, foul-smelling sacks stuffed into every crevice. The driver obeyed the speed limit and the road was smooth. At every stop, other passengers wanted to make sure I was enjoying the ride - did I need any water? A snack? It was one the best bus rides I’ve had in Africa.
We picked up a few passengers in Mega about an hour into the journey. An Ethiopian guy about my age took the seat next to me. I noticed that he was reading Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux, a book I’ve seen a couple times in the hands of travelers on my up from South Africa. Its about the author’s trip from Cairo to Cape Town - my route in reverse. Since he obviously spoke English, I started up a conversation and we talked for hours - about politics, religion, travel. Tewodoros (Tedy) told me lots of interesting things about Ethiopia.
“Ethiopia has 80 different tribes. They’re everywhere. Just behind this hill here, there is a community where it is written law that the men must not ever work. They sit all day chewing chat while their wives do all of the farming. It’s crazy, but that it what they do.”
I borrowed his book long enough to read the chapters about the same leg of travel that I had just done over the past few days (Nairobi to Moyale). It was nice to see that Theroux was as impressed as I was with the madness in northern Kenya, although he didn’t have my luck with avoiding the shifta! It doesn’t seem as if much has changed since his trip 5 years ago. I also quickly read through the chapter about his days in Sudan. If I can secure a visa, I have a lot to look forward to…
Tedy used to run a record shop in Addis, so I asked him for some music recomendations. I’ve heard some great/interesting/downright weird music here so far. Most of it sounds like a blend of Indian/Arabic/African styles - rhythmic, energetic music with overblown Arabic-sounding vocals.
When we arrived in Awasa, Tedy offered to show me around for the day and then take me to stay with his family in Addis! I was amazed - he hadn’t even been planning to go all the way to Addis, yet he gave up his entire weekend to show a random foreigner around.
We ended up having a good night out in Awasa. We hit every club in town (all 5 of them) and drank and danced ‘till the wee hours.