Drunken trekking arrangements

EtiopiaSud0144After breakfast I walked the long walkway to the main gate where I waited for the bus back to Shashemene. It was over half an hour before finally the bus turned up, but I succeeded to get on another minibus to Dodola, in the heights of the Bale mountains. There was a friendly conductor on board wearing a professional green smock, but better still was the driver who drove carefully. All his concentration was needed on this accident prone road. I saw three vehicles lying on their side completely smashed, one of which a mid-sized Isuzu passenger bus. I was left wondering what may have become of those travelling on board after the crash.

In Dodola I spotted the Dinsho-bound minibus and sat waiting for it to fill up. A man came up the window holding an alms basket in one hand and dragging his son by the other. The boy looked all right from one side, but when he turned his face his features were horribly deformed. His ear seemed to merge into a missing jaw bone and a caved in cheek, his look appeared normal, but in all likelihood the poor boy was also mentally retarded. The father was showing his monstrous son around to collect money as if he were a fairground attraction.

Once I got to the Dinsho park headquarters I enquired about trekking possibilities. Given that there were no parties that I could join, I was proposed a three-day trek. It was well below the time span I had earmarked for the area, but all in all it seemed a reasonable compromise. For the time being I would go back to the village, make preparations, and sleep in one of the village's two hotels. The one where I had lunch had terrible rooms reeking of lighting oil and with a dirt ground. The one opposite was not much better. I spent the late afternoon with friendly people on the terrace while the temperature was dropping to rather chilly. How cold would it be at over 3000 m when I were camping out?

I move to the Bale Mountains National Park and get ready to do some trekking, but communication is not as easy as I had hoped.

The next day the guide was supposed to pick me up at 8 am. I had got up a hour earlier, shaved and washed my hair under the cold water tap in the yard, the only available that also doubled as a wash basin and sink for the restaurant. By a quarter past 8, after leaving a margin of tolerance, I was already telling myself that scout was not to be trusted and thought it best to walk up to the his house. Not that I wanted to keep Swiss clock precision in Africa, but what had happened last night was not very promising. The guide had agreed to meet me at 7 to make arrangements, but he knocked on my door well past 8 completely pissed, unable to pull himself together, let alone say anything sensible about the next days' plans which he had come to discuss. I couldn't wait to see him out of my room and retained an unfavourable impression.

EtiopiaSud0153There he was, standing in front of his shackle, looking out into the distance. At least he was not sleeping out his hangover, or looking drowsy. He mumbled he was still waiting for the horse handlers to come and said I could go and have breakfast. While gulping down unpalatable meat strips with injera I realised I had a nasty itch on the hips and on the groin. I had felt something creeping on my skin during the night, but had dismissed the idea of insects in the bed because I was wearing my thermal trousers and was tucked into my own sleeping bag. As a matter of fact, I had been bitten by fleas. I went fuming to the landlord, who last night had tried to overcharge me for the shiro and the coffee, pulled down the waist of my trousers and showed him the red spots saying sneeringly his was indeed a nice clean hotel. His indifferent look proved that my complaint came as no surprise to him.