Today we head south from Yabelo towards the Kenyan border to a little fly speck of a town called El Sod to see the meteor crater and the singing well.
The drive is a bit of a chore - the road we drive on is part of the trans-Africa highway, and a large part of it is being rebuilt by the Chinese. They are doing a proper job of it, and part of this means keeping the traffic off it until it has been completely finished.
Accordingly, they have build a temporary haul road alongside the section that is being finished and paved. And it would have to be the worst road we have driven on in Ethopia - full of boulders and potholes. The good news is that if we were to make the trip in about 3 months, we could travel the full distance on a state-of-the art, fully paved highway - complete with livestock.
Our first stop is the little village of El Sod, which is build right on the edge of the meteor crater. The crater is about half a mile deep, and has a salt lake at the bottom - from which the salt is harvested as a source of income. At any rate, there must have been a hell of a bang when the meteor hit the ground. We toss around the idea of trekkiing down to the bottom of the crater - they tell us that the walk down is straightforward, and that there are donkeys that you can hire at the bottom to carry you back up. The only problem is that you can't get a straight answer as to how much it costs to hire the donkeys.
During the discussion, the local guide informs us that one of the "Singing Wells" is still open. We had been led to believe that they were all closed at the moment, so when we find this out we cancel the trek and opt to visit the well, about 7 kms away.
Access to the well has been cut into the stone, and then the well itself has been dug about 50 feet into the sub-soil, in two stages. The water is hauled up from the depths by 3 men on a rickety ladder with a half-dozen plastic containers. The man on the bottom fills the container, passes it up to the man on the middle of the ladder, who then passes it up to the man at the top who empties it into the trough. As they do this they chant to mark the time when they are passing the container up to the man above - hence "Singing Well."
Because it is still dry in this area, there is very little water in the well, so we were lucky that we go to see the last half of this performance. Apparently it takes another hour or so for enought water to seep back in for the repeat performance.
The cattle get first crack at the water hoisted up - after this, the women and children get to fill up their containers with what is left. It's a pretty tough life in this corner of the world.
We are only a short distance from the Kenyan border at this point, and we discuss with our driver the possibility of taking a quick derby across into Kenya to see Barack Obama's birthplace - however, in the end we decide that it probably wouldn't be worth the paperwork hassle of doing so this late in the day.
We call it quits and head back toward Yebello - on the way our driver takes a shortcut through the bush to avoid a section of the temporary road. It is a good choice as we see several of the small bush antelopes, a family of ostrich (including a gaggle of chicks) and quite a lot of the birdlife.
We arrive back in Yebello shortly before dinner time - just in time to wash up, have a frothy tea, and try the home cooked meals.