Let me begin this story with a caveat – like any good hangover tale, there is always the happy drunk who merrily agrees to another and yet another but who only discovers at that last drink that it is too late, they now have to buckle up for the ride.
With the lure of a busy and noisy city, we speedily loaded ourselves and our few meager possessions (which truth be told still managed to fill a big car) in to a new Land Cruiser four wheel drive to head off on a journey of discovery south to Addis Ababa. Like a hangover that would not have existed had we stopped after one drink or a plane flight, we dove in and had all 18 of those exotic sounding cocktails that was 18 hours of every conceivable road hazard.
Taking to the road was not without its challenges. Reminiscent of the flow of traffic in a major city at peak hour, so our trip consisted of fits and bursts of speed quickly sobered by road crossings of every imagining. Not only did road works protract our road trip, so too did donkeys, cows, sheep, goats, children, market-goers, funeral processions, horses, carts, dogs, bikes, cars, trucks, taxis, busses, potholes, cliff edges, dirt roads, hairpin turns, mountains, rocks, fog, rain, and the odd chicken for good measure.
But like any good road trip, there are the memories. In this case it was many of the things that we had not seen for a very long time or ever – the rain, the nomadic village on the river flat, the dramatic views, the green grass, ascending and descending through the clouds and mist, the steam and smoke arising from the cooking of traditional food from the hay roofs, the children waving and screaming ‘highlandi’ (the name of a bottled water company, which they get 1 Birr for an empty bottle), the numerous mosques and churches competing for the faithful, the harvest time, the fields of sorghum, wheat and tef and the homes amongst the gum trees.
Here is to road tripping,