Thursday, 3 April 2014

Ethiopia by Picture

I've had a fantastic time in Sululta, and to make the end of another great trip, here are a series of photos with commentary and observations.

Yaya Village was a truely special place to stay, and I am grateful to them for providing accommodation for the duration of my trip.

We managed to fill a lot of our time with training, sleeping and eating (consuming seven slices of bread for breafast takes time!), but our occassional journeys outside the camp were always interesting, enjoyable and action packed.  The Ethiopian roads are like a playground in themselves.

The road that climbs from Addis Ababa to Sululta, continues north to the Ethiopia's famous historic sites, including the ancient cities of Gondor, Auxm and Lalibella. The historic route is marked by these carvings, just a few kilometres from the capital.

Interestingly, there's also a 'Coca-cola' carving above these.  They really do get everywhere!

And there are always lots of donkeys.

And the animals are so used to sharing the road that they seem immune to the traffic.  This cow had made a couple of attempts to cross the road before deciding she wanted to live another day. (This is the main road between Addis Ababa, the capital, and the port in Djibouti.)

Animals are commonplace on the quieter roads.

Animals weren't the only obstruction during our trip to Bekoji, and even after leaving the main road, we had lots of people and other vehicles to contend with.  These slow moving Bajajs were particularly plentiful in the towns and villages along the way, and seem to pull out at any moment. 

But as I mentioned in a previous post, it's not all bad, and you do get miles and miles of views like these:

Even in the cities, the views are interesting.  The shops are very different to back home, and you're never sure what unusual scene you're going to find

Even the simple act of taking a taxi can be an adventure.  A few days ago we hired a minibus to take us into the city, wait for us while we did a few errands, and then take us back to the camp.  Little did we think that the 800 birr we were to pay would also buy us a life-time of entertainment.  Over employment is a common feature in Ethiopia, and not only did we have a driver, but we also had three assistants (there was only 4 of us).  It seems that when a vehicle is moving in Ethiopia, everyone comes along for the ride.  Or at least they do when there might be girls to be looked at!

The running options offer lots of variety too.

Sululta is surrounded by dirt roads and Eucyplyts forests which are great for training

The locals simply zigzag over and back in single file through the forest, sometimes at speed, sometimes at snails pace.  We tucked in behind one day, unsure whether the athletes appreciated being followed or not, but it wasn't long till the tail of their train started pointing out the obstructions to us with their useful hand signals.  It's amazing how interesting they can make an easy 30 minute run through a small forest.

But when running over and back through the same forest is just too much, Satellite Field provides plenty of variety.  Besides sharing the field with cattle, donkeys, other runners, and, on Sundays, thousands of aspiring football players (note the simple goal posts), it's a perfect place to train.

After running through the forests and across satellite field on several occasions, I was pleasantly surprised by this view on my long Sunday morning run.

The children love being photographed ...

... and then looking at themselves onscreen.

This group of boys in Bekoji were more than happy to do the Usain Bolt arms for me

When I last visited Ethiopia, I noted that it was developing at a very fast rate, and that development seems to be continuing, at least in the city.  True the fields are still being ploughed with oxen and wooden ploughs, but new highways, apartment blocks and shops are springing up across the city.  Sululta has obviously developed considerably in recent years, and none of the camps or hotels were there when I visited in 2010. The track too is new.

Despite the development, the building methods are still primitive, and I didn't see a single metal piece of scaffolding in the whole city.  I'm not sure this scaffolding would pass Irish health and safety regulations

I leave you with this picture of Addis Ababa, taken from the road to Sululta, and urge any of you wishing to taste Ethiopia for yourself, to take the plunge and go on your own African adventure.

You won't regret it!