45 – Pit stop, Dessie
Sun 10th Jan, Royal Pension, Dessie
I woke up at 4am in the morning and made the challenging 20 minute walk across town in the dark towards the bus station. There was some big hoohah at the station, delaying set-off by an hour more (normally its only 1 hr delay, this time its 2 hrs). Apparently there were too many people wanting to take the two buses out of Lalibela bound for Addis. Priority was to be given to those going to Addis, or maybe Dessie, or Woldia. For those going to nearer destinations, such as Gashena, the buses are unwilling to take them. (for the record, the route goes like this: Lalibela –> Gashena –> Woldia –> Dessie (overnight here) –> Addis Ababa).
What this means is that going to Bahir Dar, via Gashena (and changing buses here) may not be such a good idea after all. One option is to pay the Addis fare (130 birr, 2 days) and alighting at Gashena. I decided then to bypass Bahir Dar. There were a lot of shouting, pushing outside the bus, before the bus sped off.
The bus ride itself was long, uneventful and painfully slow (oh look, that’s the hundredth minivan/bus/4wd that just overtook us!) Staple snacks eaten by the locals were kolo (barley), sugar cane (the whole stalk cut into 30cm long bars) and a lemon (they smell them!)
Arrived at Dessie, your typical bigger town with its usual hassles. (i take down your bag from the top of the bus? 10 birr! Or. Hey mister, give me money, i am hungry!). The main drag is a slope and going up and down for dinner and to find a room was tiring. Got a place at the Royal Pension (50 birr), a simple room with less than stellar common showers (i’ll pass, i’m cleaner than the toilet, it needs to shower more than i do). The bloke tried to charge me 80 birr, but took my offer of 50 birr after i walked off. Tomorrow morning we continue on to Addis.