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Kentz Cairo to Capetown
Cycle Challenge

Ethiopia: land ruled by teenagers

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Cycling From Cairo To Capetown: Ethiopia

Ethiopia Quick Facts

Ethiopia-Tough-Kids

- Population 75 million+

- Local time is actually GMT 2/3 hours ahead

- They celebrated their millennium in our January 2008 which is their September

- The only African country not to be conquered, despite a brief Italian occupancy (Botswana was a Protectorate)

Valentines Day in Ethiopia

Ethiopian children February 14th Valentines Day Today was St. Valentines day and I didn't receive any cards at my tent, so I am a little upset to write...

February 15th A perfect day of riding - clear skies, sun all day and with a lot of elevation the temperature remained cool. Unfortunately my day was capped off with a bad dose of diarrhea due to poor quality of food. Tomorrow is the most notorious day of cycling "the Blue Nile Gorge" it's 14kms of downhill and 24kms of uphill with a difference of 1700 meters in altitude. The bridge over the Nile is a national treasury which means you can't take a photo of the bridge.

February 16th The Gorge Tight switchbacks, brutal climbing, loose gravel, dust, unfinished tarmac, potholes, quick children, uncontrollable diarrhea and zipping traffic. These were some of the treats that awaited me at the Gorge. I made it. But just about. This was the biggest test of my cycling expedition. It was about 4 hours of uphill. Steep uphill. The only interruption was the occasional coca cola stop. It was a constant battle up to the highest point of my cycling trip at 3000 meters. Of course this statistic means nothing to me as I just want the toilet and my sleeping bag.

Addis Ababa February 20th Capital City

African Hut A bustling buzzing city, by far the most westernized place thus far. There is a starbuck cafes and Italian restaurants - commercial entities of a western kind. I wallow in these luxuries but then am reminded of the lesser Ethiopian attributes like snail pace internet. However the city has Rasta, Muslim and Christian areas and has a pretty good nightlife too !

WWII Planes there's lots in Ethiopia as a result of the Italians & British fighting it out. Due to the lack of rain these planes are excellently preserved and each one you pass merits getting inside and using words like 'bogie', 'goose' & 'vrooom'. World War 2 Plane in EthiopiaBikes for Charity After that late night I am up early because the Tour D'Afrique Foundation took the opportunity to donate fifty bicycles to five NGOs operating in Ethiopia. CPAR, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, co-founded in 1984 by our very own Henry Gold, received the bicycles and will distribute them to local NGOs. Ten bikes will go to each of the following:

- CPAR Ethiopia
- WeSMCO (Welfare for Street Mothers & Children Organization)
- HORCO

Local media attended the event and Gold gave a short speech encouraging bicycles as a sustainable means of transportation. This set of 50 bicycles will be used for income generation activities. Each bicycle will help a jobless youth find or create a job in the community.

Addis is a bangin' city with great restaurants, people everywhere and also some western comforts. Places you can actually meet fellow tourists. My friend Rod went to cinema whilst contemplating a property investment in the posh area.

Ethiopian house Dave Pennington, Marty and I went out to dinner with some locals we met at a cafe. They wanted to treat us so we said we like Indian food. They picked up the bill at this classy joint : after not eating anything. It turns out they hate Indian food but didn't want to say anything to upset us. That's when we bought them a bottle of local rum to apologise. They didn't like that either. We did.

This led to a local pub where we owned the dance floor. We actually made the dance floor as it wasn't physically there. The locals who were treating us to the entire evening picked up all tabs ! they also knew everyone in town. There was a dance off. The West won- meself against a man who wanted me to come home and "get to know" his wife. This was followed by Nemo's nightclub. We fell into bed just in time for sunrise, bounced immediatley back up, landed on our bikes and cycled about 140kms. A nice end to a nice night !

February 21st The Omo Valley/The Rift ValleyThe Cradle of Humanity We leave Addis Ababa bound for Moyales on the Kenya border. We are cycling through the Great Rift Valley. The most ancient fossils of human remains have been discovered in the Great Rift Valley which stretches into Kenya. It’s easy to see why : it is untouched. Everything is wild and natural from the rugged surrounding mountains, it’s scoundrel monkeys and it’s inhabitants this area is the most unique place I have ever visited.

Ethiopian-local-kids The scenery is majestic and it is virgin territory for cycling. There are tribes lined up by their village on the side of the road shouting at me in their unique non-Amharic dialect. Many of these people have never seen a bicycle before - let alone seeing a spandex clad Irish man riding a Trek bike with leopard upholstery (from the market in Khartoum, Sudan) ! However that doesn't stop locals throwing stones - it' a natural reaction to upon seeing a tourist on a bicycle. A kid, maybe 5 years old, threw a spear at me. I quickly realised the spear would be my best souvenir of Africa. I turned my bike to pick it up, he ran from behind me to pick it up. He won the race. As if that wasn't enough, he proceeded to throw the spear at me a second time. I scarpered. He can keep the souvenir.

Every stop is an education. I can see how they have woven their own clothes which bear similarity to the Masai tribe of Kenya/Tanzania. However the colours are much brighter like green, orange and blue. Most tribes are muslim pastors who follow their stock South when the rainy season starts. They believe the stock are the providers and will guide them to the best land.

Clive, Wouter & I on the Arbua Minch session However the rainy season is very late this year and a lot of stock is dying due to dehydration and the heat. There is also many rivalries between neighboring tribes which is only worsened by the lack of rain. No rain means a fight for land. Everyone moves in the direction of fertile land. The closest they will get here is savannah. They could work together and find a system. But as only humans do, rich and poor alike, selfish self sustaining fighting will replace collaboration.

The roads in the Rift Valley are pure sand & rock and in 7 days cycling I have had 8 punctures. One tyre had 18 thorns in it ! Pure big rocks mean pure big saddle sores. However there are many treasures to be seen along the way. As with a lot of African historic sites, when you visit a site you can physically hold ancient manuscripts and idols.

Tanzania Tour DAfrique Bicycle Enthusiast

The Arba Minch session We stopped here for a rest day. There are 2 beautiful lakes with hippos, crocs and a host of other wildlife. Cycling enthusiasts Clive and Wouter and I sat down for a beer after riding 100 and something kms into town. As usual, beer followed beer. Followed beer. We eventually left the bar at 2am in our cycling spandex, leaving only broken hearts in our wake. We had been dancing with the local talent and eating very hot food for hours. When combined ensure that we drank fast ! We were all day and night in our cycling gear at this bar and we all managed to cycle back a few of dirtroad to our camp for the first time ! On arriving at camp at maybe 3am I managed to set up my tent. Clive however could not. When I woke up the next day he was asleep on his tent in his cycling gear which he had worn for over 24 hours ! If he wasn't still under the influence he would have felt embarrassed.

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