Addis Ababa

 

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// Nikon D7200 | 8,99182 : 38,74846 | alt. 2293m

The border was surprisingly quiet……way too quiet….. this cannot be right. Biiiig buildings everywhere, lot of construction, no sign, no one to guide me…. this is strange. Found immigration, they check for my ethiopian visa, and I got my stamp. Super easy to leave Kenya.

Now, let’s do the Ethiopian part. A fixer came to me very quickly, always ignore those guys, and whatever business you’ll do with those guys, you will lose money. But sometimes, you really need them. Today is one of those times, there is no one working at customs during weekends !!!!!
So this guy is guiding me around the border, immigration is located in a remote building, hidden behind lot of shit, which makes it nearly invisible from the main road. Very good camouflage ! But Why ??? Anyway, I already have my visa, they gave me clearance and approval in 5min, and I was out to find customs. No one is there, so here comes the fixer, he asked my 50usd to call someone from customs, but for that price, I told them I could sleep on the car park until next monday. They were not expected this ! Price went down, it took time, and I ended up paying 15usd, and the guy was upset about it !! Come on ! This is Ethiopia, that’s a lot of money for a phone call !!
I changed a few shillings with my fixer, and at this point I’m not yet asking for the black market rate, so he’s obviously making a nice benefit, but it didn’t take advantage of it, and invited me for a few coffees. Since it was late, he also arranged an hotel for me at the border. Reception was asking for a steep price but this guy cut it by half 🙂 In the end, I paid his drink.
He also gave me a few advises about roads, and it looks like the main road to Addis is badly damaged on a long section.
By the way, the coffee was excellent !

I decided to take on the entire 1000kms road to Addis in a single day. It may sound crazy, but 2 days later, a truck hit and killed one person from a tribe on that road by accident. That tribe set up a road block on the same spot, killing any driver stopping there… Welcome to Ethiopia.

Finally in Addis, I met Phalguni at our meeting point in the Atelefugne Hotel. She came with all the parts I needed since a long time to fix mister Fox. So after this long drive…. it was time to crawl under the van to start the repairs :
– new water tank, plug and play setup ! (ordered to my parents place in France, then shipped to Vancouver, Canada, to be machined by my friends Martin and Vijay). Thank you everyone for this !!
– new fuel transfer pump, I can now cover up to 1000kms without refueling !
– new thermostat to keep the engine temperature under control, it was about time !!!!!
– and at the same time, new brakes, I fixed an oil leak on the rear diff (due to stone impact), and proper grease on the suspension. Everything is more or less in working condition !-

Now was time to get our visas for Egypt and Sudan…….
So here the deal, you cannot get a visa for Sudan, best you can get is a transit permit, valid for 2 weeks. That permit is also valid for a very shot time window ! To get this permit, you need a valid visa for the country you enter from, and where you will exit (in our case, we will exit in Egypt).
First time at the egyptian embassy, after many hours in queue, we’ve been told they don’t issue visas anymore to non Ethiopian residents….. what ?
Back at the hotel to find a solution (lunch break) we went back to the embassy to see the consul or someone, but it took many hours of waiting, and days, to finally see him.
That’s where shit hit the fan. He asked what kind of vehicle we had (asking for vehicle title), and when he saw it was a 4wd, he simply said we would never get a visa, because Egypt is now tightening security. There was a big terrorist attack in Egypt a few days ago, and Egypt doesn’t want any more 4wd vehicles entering the country. (because if you get ambushed, your vehicle will be taken and converted into a weapon by those extremists)

Back at the hotel, playing all my contacts, and from people who crossed the border just a few days ago, it seems accurate : no 4wd in Egypt, unless you pay a few thousand of dollars.

I’m glad we have a good hotel (which allows overlanders to sleep in the carpark) with a very good kitchen (simply the best injera dishes of the country) and cold beers, that makes the whole thing manageable. In fact, Ethiopia doesn’t look any other part of Africa, it’s more like India. The food, spicy, sweet coffee, the music, ambiance in the street, the traffic with all those rikshaws…. yeah, this is India, with a twist !
Staying there for too much time gave us the opportunity to regroup with Steph ! That crazy biker I met in Kenya at Jungle Junction, this time with her friends Chris and Erin. It also went very well with them, we all had an amazing time together ! And we all struggle to get our Sudan permit !!!!!!!
All this time in the capital gave allowed us to visit a few things around, especially the museum of Ethiopia. Here is the place where you can meet our ancestors. The oldest remains of mankind are located in Ethiopia, and this is where they discovered Lucy, dated to about 3.2 million years ago (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_(Australopithecus))
I’ve seen pictures of that skeleton in the history book back in school, and it’s now standing in front of me….. really weird feeling. There is also a nice exhibition with some really nice paintings on the 1st floor. And not to be missed….. french Ricard in supermarket. Ethiopia ain’t that bad after all.

After days of research, we decided to try our luck in Egypt, pretending mister fox to be a simple 2wd. I went to a local shop to make 2wd stickers, and I will cover the 4wd markings. If needed, I will also remove the front shaft and lower the suspension. It may just work since Egyptian are targeting pickups, and heavy duty 4wd like toyota landcruisers or defenders. Since we’ve lost nearly one week here for that, we checked if we could extend Phalguni’s visa in Ethiopia, and the cheapest and easiest way is to overstay a bit 🙂 Up to 5 extra days, you only pay 5usd penalty per day.
Enough of Addis and this paperwork, we are running in circle, and cannot find a way to get our Sudan permit, I wanna travel again !
We decided to take break and visit Harar, which is a big 1000kms detour from our plan, but since we can get some extra days, it’s worth it, and definitely one of the must visit place in Ethiopia.
See you later Addis !

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