So between illness and injury I have been on the truck for what seems like forever now. Some days I have managed part of the ride though so that was nice. One of the more challenging days in this section is the Blue Nile Gorge day - a bumpy, windy, 20 km downhill infested with rock-throwing children followed by a 1300 m climb over 20 km. I am absolutely not a climber but surprisingly I really enjoyed that day. Unfortunately, the day didn't end on a great note. Walking down some stairs in the dark I tripped and turned my bad ankle and it has been refusing to get better. Not an injury that I expected to be dealing with on a bike trip. That has been getting me pretty down some days. I am always hoping to be biking tomorrow, while also trying to make the right decision in order for my foot to recover.
The hills have been stunning and being at a higher elevation was awesome with the cooler temperatures. Addis was really really interesting, I would love to go back with more time to explore. One of the other riders has a friend in Addis who was kind enough to invite a few of us for dinner. We had an incredible evening sitting in a house and socializing with people that we hadn't been living on top of for the past six weeks, although we were all a little shell-shocked and took a while to adjust to being in polite society again.
Ethiopia has some pretty kickass food and wicked juices. The juice is basically fruit blended with a bit of water, and they layer different fruits together - normally mango, avocado and papaya. Delicious. I could live off that and will miss it dearly. The food can be quite spicy and is always accompanied by a large sort of pancake thing called injera. Injera is a slightly fermented bread that you use as edible utensils. So tear off a piece (using only the right hand), scoop some yummy gook off the plate - which may also be made of injera - and go to town. Definitely an Italian influence too, lots of pasta and pizza - not exactly as we know it but still pasta and pizza. I don't know enough to give a full history lesson but the Italians were here for a few years and have left a bit of a mark.
There are people everywhere. Everywhere. No privacy. Eating lunch; people watching. Setting up camp; people watching. Trying to find a pee spot; people watching. Sitting on a hill waiting to vomit; people watching. Not normally watching silently either. We are constantly serenaded but youyouyou, moneymoneymoney, farangi!, and where are you go? I try to interact but when I'm asked repeatedly as I'm sucking wind and struggling up a hill "where are you go? Where are you go?" My answer becomes a rather irritated and breathless "up the damn hill". Kids all over. Some are so sweet and so happy and you can just make their week by waving at them. Others throw rocks and sticks and jump in front of your bike or otherwise make the day miserable. Some days keeping a good attitude is very very very challenging. Between to roads demanding attention and the kids demanding attention and the desire to look around at everything riding (when I get to actually ride) is mentally quite draining.
We have had some lovely rest days, first in Gonder which I wrote about earlier, next Bahir Dar. With only two days if riding between rest days Bahir Dar felt like a real REST day during which I did nothing. Wandered around a little, drank a lot of juice and tea and sat and all sorts of wonderful things. Two rest days in Addis and now one in Yabello. Yabello is a pretty small place with one Internet cafe (that I am not currently at so I will post this later). Not too much to go and see, which is kind of a good thing - it forced me to do my chores and rest my ankle. Our next rest day is in Kenya! I can hardly believe it. Three countries down, seven to go.