A SERIOUS WOBBLE AND SHUDDER - CAR PROBLEMS AND WET WASHING
17 May 2008
Gonder - Bahir Dar (Ghion Hotel camping)
BRUCE: Well today was a bad day from start to finish. We left Gonder late which is a story in itself and ended up in Bahir Dar and not Lalibela which is another story, but I will start with the first. The Belegez Pension was a great place to stay and we got a good nights rest and I was up at 6 ready for the day. Wrote some blog stuff, cleared the Landy, did some checks and waited for our laundry to arrive. After an awesome omelette breakfast we were starting to worry about our washing being returned as it was now 10 and they should have been back at 8am! As we were about to send out a search party the guys arrived back and handed me a bag of wet laundry that stank of fire. Either clothes had not been washed or they had been left to dry in a kaya! To cut a long story short we said that we were not paying and left in a cloud of yelling threats. What were we supposed to do? Pay for wet washing??
So we headed out of town feeling a little upset and aggrieved and when we found that there was no diesel our moods did not improve! It turned out that a tanker was just offloading diesel so after a 20 minute wait we were on our way. Just as we were leaving town we noticed that our familiar vibration had got a little worse and as I took my foot off the accelerator Ubhejane started to shudder uncontrollably as the vibration turned into a shuddering wobble that shook the whole Landy! It was like the same bad wobble that we had had in Port Sudan. We drove on and stopped a little later on so that Taco could join me in the cab and feel the vibration too. We decided to try the obvious and stopped to change both front wheels with the spares. This made no difference so all that was left was for Se and I to try and get to Addis Ababa to get it looked at.
Lalibela is one of the highlights of Ethiopia and we were devastated to miss it but a 600km round trip on a bad dirt road might mean the end of Ubhejane. Taco and Brenda were going to go on to Lalibela so we had to say our goodbyes to travelling companions that we had been with since Aswan and that we had become good friends with. As we said our goodbyes to go separate ways a crowd of kids came to see what we were doing and to ask for money, food, clothes or whatever they thought we could give them. The kids here are more aggressive and insistent than we had experienced up north, maybe because there are more tourists here.
We took it easy all the way to Bahir Dar where we planned to spend 2 nights before heading to Addis. We arrived at the Ghion Hotel at 3ish after crossing the Blue Nile as it flows out of its source at Lake Tana. Strange to see it again after seeing it last in sweltering Wad Medani in Sudan. I wasted no time in changing into my overalls after the manager of the hotel told us where to park, and started to give Ubhejanes steering and transmission linkages a good check whilst Se had to rewash the wet clothes. I found that the steering damper had some play near the link to the steering so tightened that and hoped for the best. A test drive conformed that it was no better and as it was getting dark I called it a night and will have to continue tomorrow to check the engine and gear box mounts to see if there is something amiss there. We decided to have dinner at the hotel which was ok for me as my steak was ok but Se's fish was horrid so she went to bed thinking that Ethiopia was the worst place in the world and that everything was against us. For me, this is what this trip is all about - overcoming adversity. We'll see how we get on tomorrow and if we can't fix it we can get to Addis or as a last resort Nairobi to get it sorted! We have booked a boat trip to see some of the monasteries on Lake Tana in the morning and will return to Ubhejane in the afternoon. I have also booked him a surprise wash to cheer him up.
LAKE TANA AND THE SOURCE OF THE BLUE NILE
18 May 2008
Bahir Dar (Ghion Hotel camp)
SARAH: I wasn't going to let our car problem stop us from seeing all the sights and we'd organised a boat trip to the monasteries on Lake Tana. Funnily enough we paired up with 2 English chaps we'd met in the Simien Mountains and at 8am we set off on a beautifully still lake in a covered motor boat. I decided not to see the first monastery which I'd never heard of, and women weren't allowed into the second monastery so I sat outside in the sun chatting to Ethiopian girls. Another 40 min ride on the lake and we reached the Zege peninsula and saw the lovely Ura Kirhane Modret Monastery. The Christian churches date back to the 160's and are circular in structure with lovely bright 2D paintings of Chirst and Saints. Like the Selessi church in Gonder, all the saints had black afros giving the pictures a very Ethiopian feel. I gave some money back to the poor community and bought an Ethiopian shawl/table cloth and a few lemons from the pestering kids. The kids just don't stop begging and ask for pens, shirts, money at every opportunity which is very annoying. To try to get rid of them we started asking them for their shirts and shoes which seemed to keep them quite for a while.
Our last stop was to see the start of the Blue Nile as it leaves Lake Tana. It was great to be at the start of one of the Niles and to think we'd seen the Nile all the way to it's finishing point entering the Mediterranean sea near Alex in Eqypt. We weren't lucky enough to see hippos but did see lots of pelicans on the water. Back at Ghion we headed straight to the restaurant for some food and nearly fell over backwards to see Taco and Brenda sitting there!! As it turns out they never made it to Lalibela either as the road was just so bad with huge rocks and stones. They persevered for 100km (taking 5 hrs) with rock throwing kids and decided it was too bad to continue so turned back this morning. At least we know that we made the right decision not to attempt the road at all. It was good to see them again and we all chilled out by the lake for the afternoon. In the evening we looked through all our photos choosing the best for the blog.