Michnus & Elsebie Piki-Piki Around the World.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by michnus, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    :lol3

    Can only imagine the shit of Africa been shown. The real Africa is robust and still the last real gritty ride for adventure and bikes left. :thumb
  2. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    As we left the next morning early. The first 10km of road was quite good and we thought if that could last we would be in Illiret late the afternoon. Well it did not last! One thing we learned was that planning goes out the window on routes like these.

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    Sort of nice road turned into this shitty sand track.

    Also the claims that the park are maintaining the roads were bullshit. *Our speed dropped to 20km/h average and our fuel consumption to a 16km/p/L range, which presented another new problem. Our next place to get fuel would only be in Turmi, Ethiopia and still a good 500km away.

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    The bikes kept digging into the sand, when we got them to start to float the track changes. Add to that the track is over grown with bushes and thorns and our progress slowed to a crawl. Neither of us are new to sand riding and can cope with any sand track. This was the first time that we got into sand tracks that just did not wanted to play ball. The weight of the bikes were a serious disadvantages.

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    This was bad, it took us 3 to 4 hours to cover the 12km. We would work our asses going forward and then fall forward onto the bike's tank I could see on the GPS we only did 400meters.

    Eventually just before Koobi Fora, there was a small uphill and I decided to gun it through the field to the houses. Elsebie got behind me but got stuck and in all the mayhem the bike started overheating.

    We were fucked!! Totally and utterly fucked from exhaustion. I showed her to stop and walked back to fetch her bike.

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    Sucking water like a half dead camel!

    One man gave me an old 5L oil can wrap in dirty old sponges and tied with old electric cable as a home make cooler for their water. We were really tired, and took us some time to cool down and feel normal again.

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    Fucked, properly fucked!

    Eventually the men showed us around and they even had the nicest showers, we decided to set up camp in front of the main house for the evening. Without us asking they told us they would make us some fried fish and rice as it will help with building energy for the next day, we are going to need it.

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    Land Rover grave yard

    They filled our water bottles from their 200L water drums that have been shipped to them. Other than that there’s nothing except old Land Rover wrecks that once in days gone by made it there and died there.

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    More dead Land Rovers

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    Still some wild life left.

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    About only this and grass growths there.

    The setup is a research centre for fossils and they are just looking after the place. We went to bed knowing that the next day’s riding were going to be as hard.

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    Dinner, Turkana fish and rice.

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    Lake Turkana -baptism

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  3. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

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    Man that's a tough route to follow.... Looking forward to your next posts :clap
  4. grom

    grom Adventurer

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    :thumb
    I was waiting for this ‘Turkana’ part of the report as it is really a place where travel could become a struggle for survival.
    And it really looks hard!
    Did you meet any traffic there?
  5. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    Hello Grom

    Turkana can be really harsh. One traveller told me the story of him struggling to ride the route and got so dehydrated that he could not go on. Luckily for him the rangers from park found him on their rounds they do once a month and took him to a convent in South Horr.

    They radioed Narirobi to send a helicopter as a vehicle would be too slow to get him to a hospital. They just replied they must see if he gets through the night as they do not send helicopters that distance for somebody that is most likely not going to see the next day. He made it but said he never wants to go that route again.

    The isolation is what makes this part so alluring to explore and enjoy. We did not encounter any traffic on the route. In fact the rangers from the park and the people from the research station said they haven't seen people for months Bikes are only seen once or twice a year.
  6. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    We were seeing forward to Ethiopia and some Injera and beers, but for now we still had to get out of Turkana and to Omarate, the first town in Ethiopia. Little did we know we would get a load more adventure for the day.

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    Early wake up call. Since we did not know what the days riding had in store for us.
    The coffee was brewing while we packed up the tent and stretchers. We weren't talking much both of us were busy with our own thoughts as the days riding were still going to be on the difficult side of interesting.

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    This part from Koobi to Elliret is not used by people and only the occasional traveller use this route.

    The first piece out of Koobi Fora is sand and with the bikes warmed up, we stormed into the sandy field next to the sand road. Soooorrrrryyy *Kenia for riding off the road in your game park and buggering up the veld but it’s either that or we would have struggled through the sand till mid-morning.

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    The morning sky is beautiful, at least it was overcast and made the riding more pleasant.

    By now it became quite a lot of fun riding the rocky roads, skills got sharpened up in a jiffy, progress were good and we were in good spirit chasing down some of the dry pans that formed next to the lake. The bikes were keeping up well, and for once when they had to work and not drop us they came through.

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    The GPS shows small turns and curves on the track in Tracks4Africa, those are the places we knew we would be slowed down by rocky hills. *The big ‘baddy’ was an insignificant little curve on T4A. A few bikers in the past spend some time in the extreme heat trying to get over with loaded bikes, nearly killing themselves in the process.

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    Riding this terrain for the last few days taught us it will only be a short piece and should bottom out in the valley where the rocky road would be easier to ride. There were a few more but we cleared them quickly. As we got closer to Illiret the terrain and road turned into a great little rolling double track that was banked enough to carry some speed through the corners. Zebra’s and some other big buck were trotting away as we past them.

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    The terrain switched between rocky patches and sand tracks, keeping us focused

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    And then some flat open spaces again.

    In Illeret we signed out at the local police station and headed off to Omarate, 60km away. God knows how de hell people make a living here and from what. The people and police are extremely friendly, even escorted us to the closest cold drink.

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    There's many dry river crossings on the way to Elliret.

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    About 20km away, when a guy came out of a small building waving his arms, we had to stop again. Initially we decided to ignore him but he made such an effort to stop us we rode into the fenced off area he was standing.

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    Last view of Lake Turkana. The Turquoise colours is stunning.

    He made it clear to us he is the local police officer, certainly not dressed like one, and he must see our passports before going into Ethiopia. I passed our passport over to him and he started to flip the pages which to me seems like he knew what he was looking for. After a minute or so it became apparent the guy can’t read or do not really understand English.

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    Some of the steep down hills are better walking the bike down than dropping it on rocks.

    I quickly showed him look here and here and here and this is it and cheers we must be going there are beers in Omarate with our names on. A waste of time, but with a smile on our faces and him very grateful for the quick lesson we were on our way once again.

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    Done it! Sibiloi is now behind us
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  7. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    976
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    Switzerland and around the globe
    Hi Michnus,
    Thanks alot for this beautiful report. Brings back good memories. We took this route in 1999 from north to south. Sandra and me did quite well having 145 liters of fuel on our bikes when we started off. But an english guy travelling with us fell into a coma for around 24 h due to exhaustion and dehydration. We had him flown down to Nairobi.
    Was a challenge, specially the big rock stuff, but I loved it.
    Keep up the good work.
    I just saw that you have the ATG saddle bags. How do you like them so far? Anything negative? Can´t find any prices on their homepage. Would you tell me the costs? Thanks.
    Cheers Thomas
  8. RoverMike

    RoverMike Adventurer

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    Location:
    Canberra, Oz
    Could not sleep and spent several hours reading this one. Gives a real feeling for Africa.
    Thanks.
  9. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    Hi Thomas

    The guy's name was not maybe Andrew? :)

    Man, the saddlebags is actually my own design and we manufacture them. We are busy with version 2.0 now, just to upgrade some things. But the idea works stunning and the cross over straps really help making the bags stronger.
    if ever you you want a set let me know will make a special plan for you. :wink:

    Man you have some groovy cool ride reports! I enjoyed reading them.
  10. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    Location:
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    This is the official GPS border between Kenya and Ethiopia

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    Nearing Ethiopia the vultures were as plenty full as Pigeons in Cape town inner city.

    In Ethiopia there was an early start to their rainy season and the only two big rivers we still had to cross, 25km before Omarate, were full flowing, we only figured that out later. The first one I walked and we managed to pushed the bikes through. By now it was midday and hell hot.

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    One horse town, the horse died and nobody can stop you if you decide to just pass them. It is suppose to be a police stop.

    Around 5km away, as we came round a turn we found the second river. A big mother of a river, in full flood. From this side of the river it initially looked good for us, to at least be able to walk the bikes through. It was close to 500 meters wide and as precaution I walked the river first. I nearly got washed away by the force of the water on my way to the other side. The bad news was that the bank was washed away too deep for us to get the front wheel on the bank.

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    What a good laugh, she rode a hellova road and then dump the bike on a puddle!

    We walked up and down the river to look for a better spot with no success. Second problem, we had only 5L water with us and weren't sure if we could wait for it out. As we stood there contemplating what to do next, a local came up to us on a pikipiki with an AK46 over his shoulder.

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    River in flood at Omarate, the first of two.

    Quite a friendly chap, we tried to communicate with sign language and smiles as he did not understand any English. We gathered that he had to get to Omarate himself and that he is a policeman (the reason for the AK). He indicated to us that the river can take around 3 days to get low enough for us to pass, a problem for us with our little bit of water and food. He then suggested we follow him, he knew a round turn to Omarate.

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    The policeman in the back helped us to get a detour to Omarate

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    We looked at each other with very tired expressions but had no other choice. It meant riding back 20km and crossing the one river again then take a northerly direction towards Omarate. This confused the shit out of me, we had to cross these two rivers again, according to my map, and they flow into a bigger river that runs past Omarate. With the language problem I could not ask more questions and had to follow him in good faith.
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  11. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 Knowledge is horsepower

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    This RR pretty much is top notch! :clap

    Thanks for sharing!
  12. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
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    Hi Michnus,
    yes, his name was Andrew. How come you know?
    And now I´m very curious!
    That was 15 years ago.

    Thanks for the information on the bags and thanks for the offer.
    Keep making them better. I might need some in around a year.
    And find a distributer in Switzerland. I always like to have things in my hands before I buy them.

    Just wanted to have a price in order to know if I can put them on the list of "lets look at them more closely".

    Glad you liked my reports. We try to get around as much as possible and are always looking for some offroad around the world.

    See you somewhere.

    Cheers Thomas
  13. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    Thomas this world is too small. If it is the same Andrew we talk about. He is now married to Tina and have 2 small girls. He worked in South Africa and when they had to go back to Eu drove their car to Eu. We met them in Addis and kept in contact and visited them last year in Bonn.

    Not many do that route, so I guess stories would go around:)

    The ugly mug carrying the plate.
    We had a barbecue with all the travellers at Wim's Holland house in Addis Ethiopia
    PS: Will send you a price or bring a set with next year when we go to Eu again. We are now making the next ones even stronger. :wink:

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  14. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    Oddometer:
    2,087
    Location:
    South Africa
    [​IMG]
    Second river near Omarate in flood, I am the small figure in the distance.

    He rode his little Yamaha off road bike like a real pro and we made good progress on the cattle tracks leading towards Omarate. It was evident that the locals used these tracks to get cattle and goods to and from the Omarate market.

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    Damn hot!

    Around 17km before Omarate the man stopped and showed me his tank is empty. We still had no idea how to get to Omarate as these tracks were not on T4A and I could not leave the man there. I gave him my last 2L that were in our jerry cans and hoped for a few more litres in Omarate.

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    Many locals use this route with donkey-cards with no one single track.

    The small town of Omarate is a busy little place with friendly people. We were greeted by the familiar “you, you, you…money, money” that all the other over landers warned us about. The locals directed us to the local immigration office and a small skinny man came over to greet us.

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    Uncle the Baboon, a 3 year old local thinks I have just the type of hair for tasty ticks.

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    Ethiopia ended up being the mecca of punctures, we came in with one and we eventually left Ethiopia to Sudan on the border with a puncture. I can not remember how many but it was some 9 front on both and 6 or 7 on the back of both bikes.

    He had to look in a book to see if he can find our names as we might have passed through there previously. It was an old accounting book he paged through, strange how they do things in Ethiopia, and what on earth would our names be in a book that looked like “my drag through the mud” homework book in pre school.

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    Omarate hotel, five star eco living, with complementary condoms on the floor

    He then stamped our passports with a stamp that could only go to 2010, and then changed the 0 to a 1 with a pen in our passports. We objected as police or other officials were going to give us loads of shit when they see the date have been changed with a pen. He laughed and assured us it would be no problem and in any case the entire Ethiopia is on some old time format and not on the time format the rest of the world use, it is 2003 in Ethiopia now and they do not care what’s on the passport. *Well, we can’t argue with that logic and in any case you talk to much, where’s the beer?

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  15. bbenn75820

    bbenn75820 Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,308
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] I am jumping ahead from page 8, did you find an explanation for this? and Thank you for making my world a little bigger... and more interesting. And thank you for all the time you have invested into this RR
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    [/FONT]
  16. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    South Africa
    Hi Bbenn, I have absolutely no idea. To this day I could not find information on why and what the idea around the statues. If it was a colonial type art or if it is new or old. It also intrigued me and I would love to get the story behind this. Might be some erotic art, and there are loads of European woman on safari on trips in and out of the nature parks so it might be something to do with that.

    Here is a few more.

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  17. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    2,087
    Location:
    South Africa
    [​IMG]
    Embarrassed written all over my smug face! Apparently those water buckets are what they use to serve water onto tables for restaurant guest. *:lol8:

    Our clothes and boots were soaked with mud water and the sand rubbed our knees red from all the sand stuck between the knee guards.

    We were quickly whisked away to the local hotel by a fixer. The policeman that helped us came over for a beer with a friend that reminded me of Crocodile Dundee. *He rides a normal 250cc Chinese special better than most KTM riders I have seen *.

    The room cost us 7USD and had a sand floor. The shower we could use was next door at an additional 15BIRR (.70c usd) and how it works is that you stand in tin corrugated enclosure and a guy on a wood stand above you, throws water out of a drum over you!

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    Eats dual sport bikes for breakfast, what a great time, sitting having beers with other bikers.

    It looked more like the local brothel, in fact it was the local brothel. *We now know because the other rooms next to ours were being used during the night and we were listening to the moans and groans. They were cool to their clients, there were condoms in the corner on the floor, at least safe sex was promoted. We decided to pitch our inner part of the tent outside the room and rather sleep in the tent.

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    Biker, policeman, general do gooder and all round nice guy

    We were happy to be in Ethiopia. Elsebie did really well with this entire Turkana stretch and I am super proud and impress with her for keeping up with a loaded bike on a stretch that count as a proper ride in any competent rider’s book.

    We met Uncle, the resident 3 year old baboon and had local njera for supper. *All in all it was a good party with the locals and good to be in Ethiopia.

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    Yes, it looks like vomit in a dirty face cloth. It does not taste any better.
  18. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    976
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Hey Michnus,
    the world is indeed a small place. It is exactly that Andrew we travelled 3 months though Africa with. We were actually at his marrige with Tina in the south of France some years ago, but then lost him.
    Let me know when you are in Eu the next time. Maybe we can meet for a beer. (And look at the bags:evil).
    See you then and keep the report going. Great work.
    Cheers Thomas
  19. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    Oddometer:
    2,087
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    South Africa
    Forsure! If all goes to plan and the Rand/Euro currency do not go for shit, will come and visit you for a beer. Where in Swiss you stay?

    I will send Andrew this link! :D
  20. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,087
    Location:
    South Africa
    We were in heated negotiations with black market petrol suppliers trying our utmost best to obtain a few litres of petrol to get us to Addis. The town of Arba Minch half way between Omerate where we crossed the border from Kenya and Addis was engulf in dry sweltering mid-day heat.

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    Omarate to Addis Ababa
    The voices around us were getting louder and more stressed, there are 30 people around us all pushing and shoving for the best seat in the house, this is their modus operandi of confusing and scaring. The men put a 20L yellow fuel drum in front of me and with confidence declared there is 20L in the drum.

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    Getting shafted for petrol

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    One look into the container and it was evident there were only around 15L but not a hell 20L in there. We were warned by many a traveller about these tactics in Ethiopia. There's many shrewd business people bordering on scoundrels, over charging to make a fast buck is how things roll in Ethiopia, you have to think on your feet or you will be less your underwear and socks.

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    Filling station corner shop, Spar, DIY shop, Bank, Forex exchange.

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    Main road out of Turmi, this is a one horseman town and the horse died

    One man closed up the opening of the container with his hand every time I pour petrol over into our containers to filter the petrol before filling our bikes. I see the plan, and ask them for a smaller measured container.

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    They gave me a 5L Mobil oil container with markings on the side. I get three fills out of the yellow petrol container and tell the men I cannot pay for 20L there was clearly only 15L of petrol in the container.

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    Elsebie laughed herself silly, I gun it through the river bed, all is going well the next moment I am flying forward over the bars and my bike stays behind like I hit a brick wall. I rode straight into this Milktart consistency mud hole.

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    Riverbeds double for roads, the black dot in the distance is me.

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    Bulk water supply Ethiopia style

    “But sir you know petrol evaporate quite quickly in the sun?” Ye, right, I might look like a retard but do not take me for one, I will respect you, but you need to return the favor for us to do a deal.

    The negotiations are getting louder and fierce, we stay calm and I take out the amount of money I need to pay for 15L. They are insulted they tell me. Hell, that just sucks, I am so sorry you feel that way but have to leave. You can decide to keep on arguing with yourself or take the money.

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    The Ethiopians are quite good at building houses from sticks and mud that will also last for years.

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    Bridges get made from whatever is available.

    Days before when we entered at Omarate we only had the fuel left from where we filled in Kenya. We were lucky to find a little bit in Turmi and that is where the locals informed us that there is a huge fuel shortage in Ethiopia.

    We just did not realize how big the problem were until we got to Arba Minch, which is a relative large city in Ethiopia and should have had petrol.

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    Onions part of Ethiopians staple food.

    .......................................................




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