64 – A strange day at Dila (Addis to Nairobi – part 1)

Fri 29th Jan, Etalemahu Pension, Dila, Ethiopia

In the morning, took a cab (30 birr, split with a Japanese guy who was also going to the bus station).  The Addis-Moyale bus was 138 birr, over 2 days, with a stopover at Dila. The journey passed through the Rift Valley lakes, along the river Awasa. There were birds galore along the way. The weather got hotter and hotter as we went southwards.

At each town we stopped to drop people, a horde of sellers will crowd the bus windows. You could literally go window shopping, the amount of things that were on offer. The non-exhaustive list included bananas, sugarcane, kolo, qat, chewing gum, tissue packets, biscuits, lottery tickets, pineapples, potraits of Jesus. The list goes on. Lunch was in Ziway, a 14 birr delight of fried freshwater fish from the Awasa.

We reached Dila at around 330pm. I got my bag from the bus roof. The fellow as usual wanted his birr. Maybe i’m becoming less of a pushover. You want 5 birr? I’ll give you 2. You don’t want 2 birr, fine, i grab my money back and walk off. Faced with the prospect of not getting anything, they take the 2 birr. Works like a charm. It’s crazy how faranjis get quoted the stupidest prices. I still remember the Jijiga to Harar bus, when the fella demanded 10 birr. We protested, and the locals on the bus actually egged us on with approval.

I stayed at the Etalemahu Pension, a 30 birr place very near to the bus station. The other locals from the bus were on the adjacent rooms. My room is pleasant, except for the mosquitoes. I lighted up one coil to disturb the mosquitoes, then proceeded to kill about 20 of them, in a 2 by 2m room. Not exaggerating. I’m sure there are more in the room. I will buy a can of spray later, as it will get worse when i head into Kenya im sure.

Dila is a little bit dangerous in my opinion. Somehow it seems to be a well developed town, with one nice restaurant that might cater for the Addis crowd. But the local populace who comes up to you asking for money can be very persistent. Two blocked my path and had to be reprimanded by another local before i could slip away.

Also, I got a souvenir on my penultimate day in Ethiopia: a bloody nose. I was returning from dinner, walking along the main road, when a young woman with unkempt hair crossed the road and headed towards me. I thought nothing of it and walked on. Then she facepalmed me on my face, hard. And walked off. Leaving me with a bloody nose. I was too shocked to chase after her. There were a lot of witnesses too, and they told me she was crazy. It woke me up though. Reminded me that i am traveling alone again and need to get my guard up.

Another amazing thing that happened was that the wrapping paper for my insecticide aerosol spray (35 birr) is half a page of the 25th July 2009 edition of The Straits Times Recruit section. I am completely flabbergasted. Why would a piece of Singapore newspaper end up here in a remote non-tourist town in Ethiopia? Let alone one dated on my birthday??? It could be a sign, mind you. Which in this case, as printed in the newspaper, it’s a sign that i should be an SCDF officer, a Commercial Affairs officer in the Police force, an ICA officer, an ITE lecturer or a MICA officer.

This has been a very unusual night. And on an ordinary pitstop en route from Addis Ababa to Moyale. Tomorrow i carry on on the same bus southwards.

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