Dieter, Juliana and I left Lake Hayk together but we didn’t arrive into Addis Ababa together. It was a pity because with my lack of a GPS, I wouldn’t be able to find Wims Holland’s house, a typical overlanders camp ground in the heart of Ethiopia’s capital. Pulling out my printed guide book, I found yet another place that had been recommended. I lost Dieter and Juilana when I stopped to chat to two German motorcyclists just before a small town called Dessie.Normally there is a protocol to stop and get any news or tips for the direction you’re heading in from anyone who is travelling in the opposite direction. Since these two German guys were about to cross into Sudan, I told them where to change money, get fuel and what the road conditions were like. They in turn were able to give me up to date information on the main border crossing between Ethiopia and Kenya.
They explained to me that there had been some rebel shooting in the last week and about 40 locals died in the cross fire. Villages had been emptied out and now it was like driving through an eerie dead area. This wasn’t the news I was after. Originally I had planned to slowly make my way down to the border hoping to meet an overlander in a big truck to try the Lake Turkana route with.
The Lake Turkana route would have been extremely tough route to take on my own. I would be driving over melon sized boulders, through deep sand, which I’m not very confidant with, plus I would have had to carry at least an extra 25 litres of fuel with me. With the extra weight, and the remoteness of where I would be driving through, I was forced to team up with an overland truck. The flip side to this is I would be driving through areas untouched by tourism and communities still with their primal traditional settings and values. If I don’t succeed in finding a travel buddy for Lake Turkana, I would carry on alone to cross at Moyale despite the rebel fighting.
In the morning, after I arrived into Addis, I was sitting in the sun enjoy a late easy breakfast in the garden when Dieter walks in. Hugging him, I quickly apologise for losing them and I hope they didn’t wait around for me somewhere. But that wasn’t the case. They had stopped in Dessie to exchange money when they saw me zoom past them. I didn’t even see the monster truck parked there, somehow it just blended in!
Dieter was dropping in to see if I wanted to join them for a convoy through the Moyale border and to get my Kenyan visa here in Addis. It was well known that you’re able to get the visa on the border but we wanted to have a smooth quick crossing, so everyone wass getting their visa beforehand. Grabbing my passport and spare US cash I leap in the taxi with them and head to the embassy.
After filling in the usual visa form, handing over $50 USD and a passport size photo of myself, Dieter and Juliana take me to where I can organise a COMESA (or commonly known as yellow card in Africa). The yellow card should take some hassle out of crossing borders and not having to pay extra on the border for each country I enter into. This card takes all the hassle out of it and it covers several countries and lasts for 6 months for only $20! After filling out all the paper work, and paying my money to the cashier, I came back to hand the first guy my receipt when he told me to come back in one hour, it was lunch time.
I knew from watching Dieter and Juliana go through the process that I only had another two minutes and I would be out of there with my insurance but instead I had to sit there and wait for everyone to return back from lunch. An hour later and two minutes I was finally finished and heading back to my guesthouse to wash my petrol tank out and maintain my chain
Two days later, Dieter and Juliana with their big truck, another young German couple in a camper van, two other motorcyclist and I are standing at the gates of Wims Holland’s house ready to make a slow convoy to the Moyale border. Dieter, Juliana and I might not arrived into Addis together but we can sure leave together!