It has been too long since our last update and I apologize. It isn't from lack of trying though! I have to say that Ethiopia has the slowest Internet on the planet. We tried to post photos and blogs in both Gonder and Bahar Dar, but unfortunately it took forever just to open an email connection! Now we are in Addis Ababa relaxing in the Ghion Hotel, where we just may have wireless Internet this afternoon if they get it figured out. Yeah!
I posted another blog called Ode to the African Donkey that you can check out. It was meant to be up a week ago, but you know the story. Photos will be coming soon for the last 3 posts. I promise.
For this post however, I am going to start from after Bahar Dar. Just to let you know, the monasteries from the last blog are not worth writing about. I would have preferred to relax at the hotel, but Lake Tana was very nice.
Now let me tell you about our time in Ethiopia.
I think that the general feeling is that we won't be coming back to this country on a bicycle. I would like to come and visit it like a normal traveler. When we settle in towns it is nice; the people in Addis are very friendly and when we stop for a drink or food everyone is very friendly, but…. The children are little terrors that make cycling a miserable experience. You are on your bike for 5 hours a day, constantly on the lookout for rocks being thrown, sticks being pushed and whips being cracked. All the while you have gangs of children lining the roads yelling give me money, give me pen, where are you going and of course the infamous You, You, You.
It is too bad, because the landscape is beautiful. However, it is the landscape that is killing us. We are here in Ethiopia for 21 days with an altitude gain of 19,000 m (yes, 19,000 metres).
Everyday we climb relentlessly. It does make for some amazing descents though. For instance, we had an amazing 20km downhill that took us right into camp the other day. We camped in the town of Debra Markos and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon overlooking an incredible gorge from the terrace of a German hotel.
Our toughest, but most fulfilling climb was the Blue Nile Gorge. It started with a 22km downhill on rough roads after riding 60km in the morning just to get there. Once we reached the bottom, we started another 22km climb up the other side with steep grades of 10-12 percent. And to make it more interesting, they turned it into a time trial. Woo hoo!
It was quite the accomplishment reaching the top in under 3 hours. Dave did it in 2:30 and I did it in 2:45. It made the little Scenic Caves Route in Ontario seem like a speed bump.
The gorge itself is stunning! Too bad they don't allow photos due to security reasons. I guess you will just have to check it out on Google Earth.
I have to say that Ethiopia has really chewed us up and spit us out. Most people have suffered from diarrhea and vomiting and we are down to only 15 out of 60 people EFI. I am happy to say that Dave is still going strong. He had a rough couple of days before Bahar Dar, but he managed to stay on his bike even if he was puking as he rode. We are both doing fine now and having a great time. Dave even rode with the front race group yesterday.
We are in Addis now enjoying a much needed 2 day rest. We splurged on a nice hotel and we are not leaving it until we have to go back to camp.
It is the little things that make you feel human again. We watched the News on Al Jezeera TV, ate a buffet breakfast, had a shower, and are even having our laundry done. It is amazing! To sleep in a bed and not hear dogs barking all night was actually a little odd. I was waiting for braying donkeys and roosters to wake us up in the morning, but it didn't happen. Heavenly.
So now that we are back in civilization for a couple of days, we have decided to tell you our list of things we miss the most. At the end of each blog from now on, we are going to put up a new list of some type from what we will miss the most to things we are glad that we brought. We have so many that we want to share with you, so here goes.
Things we miss the most:
1. Ice water
3. Our bed
5. Clean clothes
6. Clean feet
7. Potato chips
8. Good red wine
9. High speed internet
10. Home cooking
So, the next time you are sitting on your toilet reading the paper, think of us squatting behind a bush trying to avoid the masses of people that surround our campsite each evening to watch us sit at our tents. We will be thinking of you as we check for snakes, dig our holes, or balance over our community hole covered with tarp to spare us a little bit of dignity. I heard that our camp was surrounded by hyenas the other night. Excellent. Luckily, we don't stray far from our tent in the dark. This is Africa and as Spiros would say…”It's all part of the adventure. Argh!”