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Day 13 to Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

We reached the Sudan/Ethiopia border (right) at about 9 am. There were hundreds of trucks lined up but we were ushered past to the immigration office, then the carnet office. We were actually on our way again within 2 hours, which is the quickest border crossing so far.

There were 1000s of people at the border and lots of police military to control them.

Ethiopia had a few surprises. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people lining the village roads as we pass through. It reminds me a little of the Hong Kong to Beijing rally except the Chinese were very quiet. These guys jump up and down and yell and clap.

There seems to be three different types of police/military judging by uniforms, with on average one every 1km or so. In villages, there was one every 100 metres.

. The guys in blue fatigues had big sticks and didn't hesitate to threaten the crowd if they wanted them to move back. The guys in the blue uniforms would stand at attention and salute as we drove past. As we reached Bahir Dar, where we are tonight, crowds grew thicker and would applaud us.

The country side is changing as we go south. Ethiopia is quite green and attractive in parts. The housing in villages consists of small log houses and brush thatching. It's clearly a very poor country. Many people, often boys, on the edge of thr road looking after one or two cattle or sometimes a donkey. Some seem to be looking after small herds of goats.

Competition-wise, there was one road section today where we worked to make the time.  We were two minutes early, so I don't think anyone will have too much trouble with it.  The last time we did any competitive driving was in Egypt!!!
Hotel here in Bahir Dar is the Summerland Hotel. It's luxury in comparison to Gedaref and the ferry cabin. We start at 6:30 tomorrow, but as it's not yet 5pm as I write this, we will catch up on sleep tonight.

The carpark of the Summerland Hotel

Time for a drink
The car has been pinging badly on the low octane fuel. Mark has just gone out with a local to buy a heap of octane booster (later- he couldn't get any, so it will have to go on pinging).
Getting local currency can be tricky. On the first few occasions, the organisers acted as our money changers and gave us enough local currency for the country in exchange for US$ or euros.
In Saudi, the fuel was ridiculously cheap. Something like 6 cents a litre I think, but in Sudan last night we only had 18 Sudanese pounds, left and couldn’t fill the tank. We weren’t worried as we had enough to get to the border where we expected to get more currency. We needed another 28 pounds of Sudanese money to get out of Sudan and were just about to hand the dollars to a guy when the police started coming towards us and he ran away. He later signalled from the edge of the crowd and we followed him to a road side stall where he was doing a roaring trade with rally crews.
We later discovered Sudanese officials will accept $USs.

Day 14, Ethiopia - Bahir Dar to Awassa via Addis Ababa

Mark was unsuccessful in getting any octane booster so we have to put up with a bit of pinging. I haven't noticed it today but the engine does seem a little sluggish some times.

Rally crews were in 3 different hotels last night. The one we were in was very good and after dinner we were invited outside for coffee ceremony (left). They had music and dancing girls who tried to get all the men up to dance. Then after moving a couple of cars to a safer distance, started a fairly large bonfire and served up coffee and damper. The coffee was awful.

Mark fed his to a pot plant and I then passed mine to him for the same purpose.

The rally started with 250 Km rough gravel today. So rough I'm surprised this computer still goes.

There were 2 competitive stages, but unfortunately we were behind a Volvo and couldn't get close enough to overtake. Stuck in dust for 15 of 40 km on the first section. We damaged 2 tyres and had to put the spares on. Despite that I'm hopeful we should have moved up a couple of places. Hopefully they will have results available tonight.

right: Inquisitive locals

After the 250km of rough gravel we started 500km of transport to Awassa via Addis Abba. North of AA is the Blue Nile river valley.

It really is very spectacular. We didn't really have time for any stops, so I'll see how my pictures taken on the fly went (see left).


The country side looks a bit like NSW table lands (Armidale/Glen Innes area) as you get closer to Addis Ababa. We were within 16km of Addis Ababa before we started seeing cars but once in the city it was as bad as, say, Cairo.

There is virtually no traffic on the road other than busses and trucks north of AA. There seems to be a bit more to the south. I'm writing this as we follow the other two Aussie crews, the Robertsons and the Newtons. I'll trust their navigation!! The Stevensons will find today hard in the 1923 Vauxhall. All Australian crews except us are father-son combinations.

An English-speaking local gave us directions to what he said would be a good place to get our tyres mended. Finding something in Addis Ababa is a bit of an adventure too. They don't really have addresses, he told me. Anyway we found it and they were delighted to be involved. Mended both tyres and we put them on the car for the drive to Awassa to see if they would stay up. Cost zero!!


left: a shot from the rally's official photographer - a tribesman watches us go by

Hotel (at Awassa) is again good but we have been warned tomorrow in Moyale won't be the same standard.

Results are available and we have come up 2 places to 9th. The repaired tyres vibrate badly so we will keep them just as spares. Changed all filters tonight.

Next: onto Kenya