Our first Ethiopia impressions are mixed. Gallabat consists only of a few mud huts, and the customs officials sitting in a mud hut as well.
We have heard a lot about Ethiopia from other travelers. Apparently a lot of people gather around a vehicle as soon as it stops. Some have also said that they were really harassed. Forewarned, we depart from the main road out of sight and find a good place for the night, it promises a peaceful night.
In such situations, Tara is a big help. Most Africans and Arabs fear dogs, especially black dogs and therefore we had always been lucky at the borders, because the officers avoid to search the car if possible, because Tara does not tolerate strangers in the car. But officers have a rather easy going way, passports stamped, carnet stamped, although none is required for Ethiopia, but here they like stamps, not a single look into the car, unimaginable.
The night was really quiet, just in the evening two shepherds guided their animals home, they greeted us and did not else take notice of us.
The road to Gondar is in good condition, but we do not drive to Gondar, but first turn off into a gravel road to Lake Tana. There, Tim and Kim, two Dutch, have started a relief project.
Slowly, the road climbs up into the mountains. Time passes and again we drive through roadside villages and every time there are a lot of people on the road.
Everywhere in the country highways are improved at the moment. The building of fresh tarmac of the main routes is progressing rapidly. Built by Chinese companies, of course, they want economic influence in the country.
The road villages are always created equally, simple mud huts with tin roofs, the modernized form of round huts with thatched roof, it is our first Ethiopia impressions.
We enjoy the ride through this beautiful country, we imagined quite differently.
Commuter transit is carried out, as in the rest of Africa, by small mini buses for 9 to 15 people registered. The road winds uphill more steeply. Ethiopia is generally situated at very high altitude , we will cross passes, which are above 3000 meters and our vehicles will fight rather heavily due to the thin air of the mountains. At the top, we stop and enjoy the view. Here true Africa starts, savanna-like landscape in hilly areas.
It is extremely dry here, everything is dried up, apparently it has not rained for a long time. Bine is enthusiastic and shoots photo by photo. Bodo also loves photography. They are both very committed and make really good pictures. We enjoy the time with them and have loads of fun.
A heavy truck crawls up the street. At road construction in this rocky terrain no regard is taken to the steepness of a road, unlike in Europe, as in Western countries they build more tunnels and bridges, which would be far too expensive here and here you have time anyway, the only thing the Africans have plenty of.
Soon we reach the first really large city. I urgently need a Sim card for the phone, here we will try our luck. You learn from faults a proverb says. As we had a lot of problems with our car in Tunisia we had to call several times to Europe, we ended up with a phone bill of 1000 €. Since we always use SIM cards from the respective countries, our phone costs have fallen dramatically. So we hope to get an Ethiopian SIM card here. We look for the post office, there should be cards available. Found! Stopping left at the side and try our luck. Sorry, no! In Ethiopia, one needs a passport, that is not the problem, 2 photographs, no problem, submit a request and after 6 weeks you get the SIM card sent to you, then you have to buy phone credits and load to your mobile phone. Just one problem, we can not wait for six weeks, perhaps there is a different solution.
In the meantime, Tara has displaced my wife from the front passenger seat and enjoys the scenery. She likes to sit in the passenger seat, in Western countries it is strictly prohibited. Here, nobody cares, the people are more than surprised or laugh when they see a dog in the passenger seat. The best she likes, when animals cross the road, which she finds really exciting.
In Ethiopia, more than anywhere else you have the impression that the road is built for pedestrian traffic, tons of people are on the road. About 77 million people live in Ethiopia, of which 43% are under 15, the age of 65 is reached only by 3%. From 1994 to 2007 the population rose from 49 million to 77 million. The average life expectancy is 48 years, per 1000 live – there are 110 stillbirths.
In Azezo we turn towards Gorgora on Lake Tana. So far our first Ethiopia impressions.