We left fairly early the next morning. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea knowing from previous experience of German overlanders morning schedule. But on the other hand I was happy to be travelling with morning people. People who like to get up and get moving early – so we can either enjoy the sights along the way or stop in plenty of time to unwind at the end of the day. Not before too long, the sick limping bike decides to cut out completely. We all park our bikes on a nice wide piece of road verge and pull the cap of the spark plug off. Something drops. Looking down on the ground we find a long piece of metal.
Hummm, that looks like the inside of a spark plug! Sure enough, when we took the spark plug out it was missing the inside steel piece. I just hoped for the owner of the bike that none of it went inside the engine to the piston head or we are going to have more trouble on our hands. He replaced the spark plug with a spare one and we set off once again, hoping to find a mechanic in the next village. We found a mechanic, and sure enough, they take one look at the spark plug and say, here is the problem! Walking off to get us all a cold drink, I laughed to myself. This was becoming ridiculous.
This was a calm village where only a couple of people came out to see us. We know the spark plug is a symptom but not the cause of the problem. But anyway, they trusted this mechanic to fix the problem while I went with one of the guys to sit on the main road incase the Germans drove straight past us. While we were waiting, two of us went to withdrawal money from the ATM. But their MasterCard wouldn’t work, and the guy got angry at the security guard, asking why the machine says it will accept MasterCard but actually in practice it doesn’t. I managed to withdrawal money and loaned some to them.Thanking the guards as I left, the guy turns to me and asks ‘why thank him, he didn’t help us at all! My card still doesn’t work.’ Quietly fuming to myself, but trying to keep my words from sounding harsh, I couldn’t help myself and spit out ‘It’s not his fault the machine doesn’t accept your card, he’s just the security guard. It’s the banks fault but overall, not many countries around the world accept MasterCard!’
A few hours later, the bike was running better for the time being and we hit the road once again. We drove on and on. I wondered if we somehow missed the Germans and they were now in front of us. But as the kilometres slipped past, I realised they were in fact still behind us and as more kilometres slipped past, the distance between the two groups increased and my hope of ever joining up faded.
Another pretty sane village – I even trusted my helmet and gloves on the bike while eating lunch!Just on dusk at a small village we stopped and found a local hotel and restaurant. Obviously they only had traditional food and I ordered a simple fried meat dish called ‘Tibs’ with Ingeria. Finally I got approvals for the food from both sides as the beer slipped down our throats and we can rest our tired bodies.
This is the true Ethiopian reception! We ended up having someone with a stick to take care of the bikes while we had coffee and a donut! Just before I fell asleep, I finally got a text message to say the Germans just arrived into the town we got the bike fixed in… This convoy wasn’t really working. They were not keeping up or not leaving earlier enough…