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Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

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Ethiopia 28/06 – 06/07/2012

ruta ethiopia Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Avem un sentiment minunat de fiecare data cand aerul este ‘nou’, cum spune Yusuke. Entuziasm, dar si teama naturala de necunoscut. In plus, frontierele africane nu sunt lesne de trecut. Coruptie, birocratie, smecheri care schimba valuta, cu ochii la acte si portofel. In timp am invatat sa nu ne asteptam la nimic si sa fim pregatiti pentru orice. Asa ca atunci cand unul dintre aceste teritorii necunoscute ni se deschide inaintea-ne, mai ales cand respectivul teritoriu este chiar Etiopia, stim ca am avut o zi buna. Surprinzator, am obtinut gratuit permisul pentru import temporar al motocicletei. Detalii pe HUBB, unde incurajam lumea sa ne calce pe urme. Visa a fost 20 de dolari. Benzina costa in jur de 20 Birr/l.
Etiopia este intr-adevar o tara aparte, foarte diferita de oricare alta din Africa. Fizionomia oamenilor e alta.

There’s a marvelous feeling to enter a fresh territory where, like Yusuke sings, the air is new. There’s a sense of excitement and the natural fear of the unknown. Crossing borders in Africa is also generally not easy. Custom forms and TIP need filling, passports need checking, money changers need bargaining. In time, we learnt to expect nothing and be prepared for anything. So when one of these uncharted territories proves easy and we get the wave through in a place so notoriously difficult as the Ethiopian border, we know we had a good day. Amazingly enough, the temporary import permit was free of charge, details soon to be updated on our HUBB thread dedicated to overloading in Africa without a CpD. Visa was 20 dollars for 30 days and petrol around 20 Birr/l.
Ethiopia is a very special place indeed, utterly distinct from any other country in Africa. People look indeed different.

IMG 3118 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3121 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3623 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Istoria umana dateaza aici de mai bine de 4,4 milioane de ani. Etiopia este singura natiune africana niciodata colonizata, cu propriul calendar, limba, alfabet si religie. Din pacate reputatia sa printre overlanderi este teribila: pana sa ajungem aici nu am auzit nimic bun. Dar nu suntem toti la fel. In loc de pietre in cap si bete peste motocicleta, oamenii ne-au primit cu prietenie, daca nu chiar cu sfiala, consternati de numele ciudat al tarii din care venim. Prima noapte am dormit in curtea unei misiuni catolice:

Human history here dates back at least 4.4 million years. It is the only never colonized African nation, with its own unique calendar, language (that belongs to the semitic family), alphabet and religion. Sadly, Ethiopia has a very bad reputation among over-landers. But even if we drive the same routes, we don’t all often groove to the same beats. Instead of throwing rocks and sticks at us, people welcomed us with shy smiles, confused about the unheard country we were coming from. First night we slept in the compound of a catholic mission:

IMG 2982 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

A doua zi am inregistrat 60,000 de km la bord. Adica 48,000 in Africa! Incepusem urcusul catre platoul central, care are intre 1800 si peste 4500 de m, Dupa ce ne bucurasem de cateva zile uscate, ne asteptam sa fim din nou sub ploi, infofoliti in tot continutul rucsacului de haine. Arhitectura vernaculara etiopiana e aparte: casele au tavan inalt, pe structura de eucalipt, ba netencuita, ba finisata cu grija in culori puternice. In catunele mai curand izolate, unele case au pastrat forma traditionala circulara, care in comunitatile emancipate se foloseste numai pentru depozitul de cereale si staulul de vite.

The next day we hit the 60,000 km mark. That meant 48,000 in Africa! We were climbing the dramatic plateau that boasts altitudes between 1800 and over 4500 m. After a short couple of days basking in the heat of Chalbi, we would soon have to wear the entire content of our backpack under the riding gear. Vernacular architecture proved to be equally original: long eucalyptus poles are used to built a high ceiling single room house, that is often left un-plastered. Some facades are painted in bright colors. In more remote villages huts have kept the traditional round shape, that in the more emancipated communities is only used for storage or cattle.

IMG 2998 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3001 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Chiar daca am depasit prima decada peste noul mileniu, majoritatea etiopienilor sunt inca eminamente pastoralisti. Fiecare copil trebuie sa aiba grija de vitele gospodariei, de aici obiceiul de a azvarli cu pietre si crengi. Din pacate ajutoarele umanitare din anii ‘70 nu doar au salvat de la foamete o intreaga generatie, ci au si alterat dramatic atitudinea fata de straini a intregii natiuni. Astazi copiilor celor care mureau de foame acum 30-40 de ani nu le mai e rusine sa cerseasca, ca bunicilor lor. Insa in pietele regionale, unde satenii se aduna ca pe timpuri, oamenii sunt blanzi si carele incarcate de produse trase de magarusi.

Even if we are well a decade over the new millennium, most of Ethiopians are still pastoralists. It nukes you back into a rural, mystical age, as if you’ve stepped into a living time travel machine. Every child is supposed to take part in herding the family livestock, thus the origin of rock and stick throwing. Unfortunately after being saved from the 70s famine by a concerted international effort, the younger generations have lost some of the authenticity and pride of their elders and, accustomed to foreign aid, are more prone to begging and hassling tourists. The markets on the other hand, have pretty much stayed the same, with villagers congregating from many miles away to trade cattle and produce.

pano eth market Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Ana mi-a povestit ca in copilarie a avut un pachet de Pacalici pe tema costumului popular in lume. Isi amintea acum de ceva ce aducea perfect cu portul ethiopian, un stergar de bumbac gros care poate fi rochie, cordon, fusta, turban, sling pentru sugari, orice.

Ana told me about a pack of cards she had as a child, the kind that you have to match pairs of two alike to win. Her cards had a ethnic wear theme, and she had now flashes of something quite similar to the Ethiopian getup. The main ingredient being a thick cotton scarf that can become shawl, poncho, skirt, dress, baby sling.

IMG 3110 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3594 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3604 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Asta la ses. La munte moda e pe pleduri multicolore, iar in cazul barbatilor, musai pantaloni scurti, verzi sau kaki.

That goes for the plains, because the highlanders favor colorful plaid blankets and mandatory green or kaki shorts for men.

IMG 3580 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Wandalal (43)

IMG 3566 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Ylumaga, un pastor in varsta de 11 ani

At 11, Ylumaga is a fine herder

IMG 3577 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Dupa de am cumparat niste fructe, hai sa imprimam niste poze. In scurt timp motocicleta devenise un stand ambulant cu o imprimerie ad-hoc.

After buying some fruit, we wanted to offer a couple of photos to people. Within minutes we had become a mobile free print shop.

IMG 3032 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3039 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Din pacate bateria imprimantei tine foarte putin, asa ca a trebuit sa ne oprim. La timp, pentru ca de nicaieri si-a facut aparitia un ‘responsabil cu ordinea’, civil, care a smuls un bat din mana cuiva, si s-a apucat sa croiasca multimea. Am incercat sa il calmam, explicand ca nu suntem agasati de nimeni si ca e o adunare amicala. In seara aceea am trecut pe Heinedau-ul second hand pe care ni l-a dat Chris de la JJ Nairobi.
De cand am intrat in Ethiopia, oferta de-ale gurii s-a schimbat la fel de dramatic ca si peisajul, limba si oamenii. La fiecare masa se serveste injera, o clatita spongioasa din cereale fermentate, un pic acrisoara, care tine loc de farfurii si tacamuri.

Sadly the printer battery lasted only for a short while, and as people were expressing their eagerness to be photographed, a strange vigilante crashed the party. This guy wore no uniform, but appear to command some sort of authority over the crowds. He grabbed a boy’s stick and started hitting people away, while shouting at them to disperse. We tried to explain that we were not being assaulted and that his actions were completely unwarranted. As the situation regain calm, we shook some hands and took off. That evening I switched to a second hand Heidenau that Chris at JJ’s Nairobi had given us for free.
Since entering the country, we had been introducing our taste buds to new flavors. The staple food is an entirely original Ethiopian creation, based on a cereal (tef) that, much like many of the plants and wildlife that live on this land, are endemic to the country. The tef flour is used to make a watery dough that is fermented, then baked on a clay oven or in an ironcast pot. The spongy and slightly sour pancake resulted is called injera, and substitutes both serving dish and eating utensils.

IMG 2993 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Practic trebuie sa te folosesti de o bucata de injera ca de o lingura, pentru a manca sosul sau tocana pe baza de legume sau carne, scazuta in unt si condimentul national, berbere (un amestec de cumin, cardamom, clove, cayenne pepper, ginger and turmeric); caram materialul dupa noi acum, cu intentia de a incerca o injera jam session. Noua ne-a placut cel mai mult shekel teps, un gratar de oaie sau capra servit pe plita incinsa, cu ardei iute si ceapa rosie

Eaten with your hands, injera is savored with a wot (sauce) spiced with berbere (a mix of cumin, cardamom, clove, cayenne pepper, ginger and turmeric). With sauteed vegetables, boiled meat or even raw meat. Our favorite was shekel teps, roasted mutton or goat served sizzling hot with peppers and onion

IMG 3046 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Pentru ca Ethiopia vernaculara e bine-mersi, injera nu se transporta in cutii de plastic, ci intr-un cos special din paie, imbracat in piele.

Vernacular Ethiopian being alive and well, injera is not carried around in Tupperware, but in a dedicated basket, woven, then insulated with hide.

IMG 3509 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Desigur ca se bea cafea non-stop, si nu oricum. Fiecare colt de strada, casa si restaurant, pana la hotelurile de 5 stele, contine un mic stand in care se desfasoara un adevarat ritual: se ard carbuni aromati, se prajesc boabele, se macina, se fierbe un soi de cafea turceasca, care se serveste in doze liliputane, dar dese.

Of course the famous Ethiopian coffee is constantly brewed and savored across the nation, with much ceremony. The beans are roasted on the spot, incense is being burnt and the smooth velvety liquid sweetened.

IMG 3520 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3519 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Noi suntem insa bautori de ceai, care e servit in aceleasi cescute de pitici, si costa 1 Birr. Berea locala e fie artizanala, mai pe la tara, unde se bea din cutii de conserve, sau Sf. Gheorghe. Nu e rea.

Not being huge coffee drinkers, we favored the ubiquitous 1 Birr tea. Beer is available either bottled or locally brewed from germinated cereals in the countryside, where your drink it from tin cans.

IMG 3516 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Sucurile de fructe insa – ca acest pahar de mango/ avocado/ papay – ne-au dat gata

Nothing was as good as the insanely delicious fruit juices, like this mango/ avocado/ papaya creation

IMG 3127 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Mergand spre nord, am trecut pe la Lacul Abiata, insa am intrat in parc dupa poarta oficiala, pentru ca cereau spaga ca sa ne lase sa intram cu Tenere. Din pacate nu e nimic de vazut, parcul e intr-o stare jalnica, un palc ratacit de flamingo si ceva magari. E clar unde se duc banii. Etiopia nu e pregatita pentru asa ceva.

Making our way north, we passed Lake Abiata national park. As they wanted us to pay a bribe to ride to the shores, we entered a mile farther, on a dirt track. Unfortunately, there was not much to see: a few flamingos scattered, and some donkey.

pano eth lake1 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Pe tarmul lacului Ziway abia se organizeaza o bariera cu taxa. Pescarii inca isi pot lua linistiti picnicul printre pelicani si berze uriase.

At the shores of Lake Ziway the barrier and ticket office were just being sorted. Local fishermen can still picnic next to pelicans and some tall storks. Hopefully when they’ll start collecting money for this place, it will go into some environmental damage control.

pano eth lake2 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Capitala ethiopiama este liderul diplomatiei mondiale, in centru se afla o veritabila piaza italiana; in Ethiopia, centrul ortodoxiei, se afla chiar cufarul sacru al Noului Testament. Uimirot, daca ar fi si adevarat. Ethiopia, sau utopia? Tara nu are nevoie de astfel de reclame false. Addis Ababa insa chiar nu e un oras prea grozav, cu un tesut urban aglomerat, in care proprietati gunervamentale imense se pierd de-a lungul bulevardelor desfundate, cu arhitectura de influenta sovietica si interventii contemporane de tot kitschul. Am fost gazduiti cu formidabila ospitalitate bulgara. Vremea de mizerie; frig si ploaie, noroi si vant. Pentru prima data eram singuri intr0un intreg apartament. Stangaci, nu stiam ce sa ne facem cu atat spatiu. Ana si-a gasit de lucru cu prima intoxicatie alimentara in zece ani de mancat orice de oriunde. Intre ploi, prietenul si fratele bulgar ne-a scos la cafea si turism.

Being so different comes with a few quirks. Ethiopia also claims to have the undisputed diplomatic capital of the world dominated by an ‘italian’ piaza, to foster the Ark of Covenant, to be the center of orthodoxy. Ethi-utopia anyone? Addis Ababa, with its hectic urbanism, with immense governmental compounds lost among scruffy boulevards, had little to support such preposterous claims. To us, the soviet influences were too evident to ignore, and the modern developments too kitschy and amateurish to bare. Hosted with unparalleled hospitality by our Bulgarian brothers, we were for the first time alone, an entire apartment to our disposal. Not having to squat in a disintegrating tent under the daily rains was bloody fantastic, also offering Ana the required peace and comfort to experience her first food poisoning in a decade of backpacking and hardcore street food sampling. In between downpours, our friend took us out for coffee and some sightseeing.

IMG 3052 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Dupa ce am vizitat un muzeuas cu straie imperiale, ne-am plictisit cu biserica Raguel, edificata de un mester indian, dupa cum arata si cromatica, planimetria si decoratiunile

After visiting the imperial paraphernalia in the nearby museum, the Raguel church (with a circular layout, built by an indian artizan) felt equally bland

IMG 3055 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Interesant insa modestul palat al lui Menelik, situat in varful colinelor Entoto; detaliile sarpantei sunt notabile

The modest palace of Menelik, situated on top of Entoto hills was quite interesting, with superb roofing details

IMG 3050 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Au trecut cateva zile pana ca Ana sa se simta in forma, si am mai avut nevoie de una ca sa schimbam niste birr in dolari pentru Sudan, unde cica nu merg bancomatele. Brusc am realizat ca bacul din Sudan in Egipt, da, chiar acel faimos, terifiant bac, pleca in cateva zile. Aveam de ales: sprintam nebuneste ca sa il prindem, sau mai pierdem vremea pe ici pe colo si il luma pe cel de saptamana urmatoare. Pentru ca bacul e doar o data pe saptamana, atunci cand merge. A doua cursa contra cronometru, dupa traversarea in pripa a republicii Congo. Cheia acestei tentative era sa parcurgem ruta Addis Ababa – Lalibela intr-o singura zi. Iti amintesti ca am anticipam in postul trecut o pedeapsa pentru pacatul de a ne lacomi la bine si frumos in Africa? peste Arca noastra de metal si peste pacatoasele noastre fiinte a venit Potopul. A inceput cu o mocaneasca decisa, apoi ploaia a devenit metalica, dura. Uzi la piele, vineti de frig, a trebuit sa tragem in prima cofetarie la un ceai fierbinte, pentru ca oricum nu mai eram in stare sa tin ambreiajul si vizibiliatea era sub 15 metri.

After taking a few days off because of Ana’s injera overdose and having to deal with ridiculous foreign currency laws in order to buy some much needed cash for Sudan, we realized the Wadi Halfa ferry would leave in a few days. We had to decide: a sprint to the border, or hand around for another week and catch the next one. This infamous boat is the only border crossing into Egypt, and leaves only on Wednesdays, if it runs at all. For us, that would be the second time we would rush like that, after the adventurous crossing of the Congo. The first step, crucial to the success of our endeavor, was to do the Addis – Lalibela stretch in one day. Remember we spoke of penitence for all the good fun had in Africa? Our metal Ark and our sinful beings were treated with Flood. The morning of our departure it started pouring again, cats and dogs. Drenched and chilled to the bone, almost unable to grip the clutch, we had to stop in the first sizable town for hot tea.

pano eth rain1 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

pano eth rain2 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3078 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

Echipamentul nostru nu e de ploaie si frig. Cand ploua, ploua pana in cizme, chiar cu stratul de vant montat. Daca nu e foarte frig, vantul usuca insa rapid totul, deci nu e bai.  Chiar si in RDC, unde ne-a plouat zile la rand, nu am avut probleme. De data asta erau sub 14 grade! A plouat toata ziua, cu cateva intervale de soare, pe care le-am primit cu bucurie exagerata, poate din cauza ca eram intr-o stare avansata de hipotermie. Dar peisajul a fost uluitor.

Our gear is not designed for cold weather, nor for wet. When it rains, it rains right through it, even with the weatherproof layer on, so it doesn’t take long to have everything, down to unmentionables, completely wet. In moderately warm weather a tender wind will soak our clothing reasonably fast, which is great, so far we couldn’t complain at all about that. Even in DRC, where we were riding for days under pouring rains, it was bearable. This time, we were shivering at below 14 degrees. The real feel while riding was much lower. It rained almost all day, with brief intervals of modest sunshine which we cheered with disproportionate euphoria, probably due to our advanced state of hypothermia. But the highlands were stunning.

pano eth mountains4 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

pano eth mountains5 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

pano eth mountains6 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3104 5 6 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

IMG 3524 Planeta Ethiopia / Planet Ethiopia

La 60 de km de Lalibela asfaltul s-a terminat. Rulam in bezna si ploaie, pe serpentine de noroi si pietris. Imi imaginez ca peisajul era fabulos, din pacate nu am vazut nimic. Poate ca ar fi indulcit drumul. Dupa mai mult de o ora si jumatate, am ajuns unde nu mai speram sa ajungem. A fost imposibil sa ne incalzim la o temperatura decenta, asa ca nu prea am pus geana pe geana. Dimineata insa pormitea sa fie uscata, si noi eram gata sa fim fermecati.

Our gear is not designed for cold weather, nor for wet. When it rains, it rains right through it, even with the weatherproof layer on, so it doesn’t take long to have everything, down to unmentionables, completely wet. In moderately warm weather a tender wind will soak our clothing reasonably fast, which is great, so far we couldn’t complain at all about that. Even in DRC, where we were riding for days under pouring rains, it was bearable. This time, we were shivering at below 14 degrees. The real feel while riding was much lower. It rained almost all day, with brief intervals of modest sunshine which we cheered with disproportionate euphoria, probably due to our advanced state of hypothermia. 60 km before Lalibela, in pitch darkness, the tar ended and we continued, blind and tortured, on a winding, slippery river of mud and gravel. I’m assuming the scenery was fabulous, I we could see it. That would have made the ride reasonably fun. Over an hour and a half of hell we eventually arrived where we were almost not hoping to reach. We hardly slept, unable to heat our limbs back to normality, but nevertheless, the morning was dry, so we were ready to be dazzled.

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