Loïc: We reach Addis Ababa, the capital, after a ride in the flourishing and hilly North of Ethiopia. It's raining, the large grey city is in a high up basin that keeps the pollution clouds.
Thanksfully our host Claudio comes to pick us up on the central square. We quickly understand why he drives a 4X4: to get to his home tough it's close to the city center, we have to pass by rutted streets and ford a stream where I almost fall down... Mud, rain, bustle, smashed roads, the obvious lack of organisation give me the feeling to be in Saïgon during the war (except that of course I was not there).
But here we are, dry and our host heals our hearts up for a couple of days. This stopover is a technical one: big laundry and big maintenance for our bikes.
Cleaning of the air pre-filter, oil change, coolant change, the fork purge. But above all change of the joint and of the water pump axe to avoid the presence of mayonnaise (water in the oil) visible on Aurel's transparent clutch case... but also recently on my bike. If we had not had the transparent clutch case we would not have realized it.
Do I also have to mention the time when everybody was in the mud looking for the circlip that I lost while withdrawing it (all is well, we found it back and the bikes work well without consuming water).
Nothing better than a good cleaning to find the pleasure of riding again. We find some petrol stations offering cleaning but the pressure is much too low to take off the mud and dirt. In the end it's a small team of Ethiopians who clean the bikes for us. It gives me an idea of what rich BMW owners can feel when they leave the cleaning to their staff They are willing to do it so well that they remove my indicator and spray oil all over the bikes to make them shine... including the disc brakes that did not really need it... so the bikes do not brake anymore! Some oil on the discs and some rain in the next couple of days allow the bikes to brake again.
Well, what is there to see in Addis Ababa? .... we are still looking for!
Nothing to declare but Ethiopian women who probably are the most beautiful African women.
Though we met some very friendly people. When someone is not able to answer our question about a restaurant he refers to other people to find out. An armed soldier leaves his post to show us the way to the restaurant's door.
I feel serene even in the bustling city. There is bustle but no tension. Actually the population is half christian and half muslim... and all is going well. Churches avoid ringing their bells while minarets call to prayer. People practice their religion and traditions their own way. The priority is to have 3 meals a day; according to Claudio this explains the tolerance and peace in the streets. It does not leave time nor energy to get worked up about religion. It strengthens my feeling that in Europe life goes very well when we focus on ecology or useless news.
Aurel: In Addis Ababa I need to retrieve a package with my new camera sent from France. The package was sent to a local KTM dealer but it is retained in the custom offices. It takes an entire day to get it back... and 130 euros of custom fees! Thanksfully Flavio the KTM dealer helps us a lot but also wastes a day... He is actually not only a KTM dealer but he also organises bike trips in Ethiopia, http://www.africaridingadventures.com Thanks Flavio!
He also gives me the address of a welder where I can go to extend my central kickstand which is too short. Once there we are happy to discover a well equipped engine shop where people do a good job.
We also take this opportunity to visit the mechanic shop next door where they repair engines.
Loïc: the owner is ready to hire me. Can you please tell my boss in Toulouse that I may not come back?
Aurel: Flavio mentions 400 kms of track ahead of us after the Kenyan border. According to him it's hell and it's going to be tough. He is not the only one warning us. So we do not know what to expect.
Loïc: After a couple of days in Addis Ababa we are back on track heading South.... in the rain...
We first think that we will reach the border in 2 days but in the end we decide to stay one more day on the road. We spend time in an internet café to write the previous articles. We are hoping for the weather to get better in order to hit the road the next day. Tough a bit of disappointment with the weather I cannot deny that it's a pleasure to be able to change the plan whenever we want. And it's good to be free by not scheduling anything in advance.
I am as excited as anxious to discover the track of North Kenya that seems so hard to ride. But that will be for the next episode.
Aurel: The best is ahead of us believe me. Africa won't stop charming us....
And don't forget, you can follow us (almost) in real time on the "Where are we today ?" page !