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Entry 41 // The journey to Ethiopia Day 3 of 7

Update by: Luke | March 31th, 2011

We wake up in the morningin the Michigan atmosphere. Fresh crisp air, Surronded by pines, dew on the tent. I almost expect to see a white tail on the edge of the meddow. Instead I see a local dressed in bright clothes watching. Who knows how long he has been there, but he just stands and watches us as we take our time packing up camp. This is early in our 600 stretch of no pavement. Nick is worried about his wheel bearings going out again in the middle of nowhere. He props his bike up to inspect them.They appear fine which is relaxing on Nicks mind. It's time to head out and start the day. This is what we have to look forward to.It's rocky, Very rocky, but we fly down the road semi-uncontrolled eagar to put some miles in. I have my helment camera going, and am talking to Nick on the intercom. All of a sudden a man steps out from some bushes and walks across the road carring a automatic weapon. He waves and disappears into woods before any of this can really process in our minds. We start passing a bunch of four by fours, then come up to the main group which stopped around the next bend. This is a group of about 10 trucks, all guys between 40-60 years old. They are having the time of their life. You can see it on their faces. I don't know how they all know each other because they are from all over the world, America, Great Britten, South Africa. One of the leaders did this road 30 years ago. They are quite impressed with our story and think doing a trip like this on bikes would be fun. I ask them if they saw the guy with the gun, and they didn't. This seems to make a few of them nervous, so they decide to keep their convoy tighter from now on. Nick and I always keep a tight convoy so we don't have to change a thing. They want to get a photo with us and look over the bikes. They offer us water which we decline and we take off ahead of their group.Just down the road there is some kind of military check point. We being on bikes, just get waved through as usual, but this makes me think about the guy with the gun just down the road. The helmet camera is off now. We continue down the road.Up ahead we see about 15 people hearding animals walking down the middle of the road. This is not uncommon so we think nothing of it. As we get closer, the sticks in their hands turn out to not be sticks in their hands. Every single one of them is carrying an automatic weapon. These guys are obviously not military. There is nothing for us to do, except thread through the people and continue on, so that is exactly what we do. A helmet cam shot of that would have been awesome, but I'm just happy not to have any problems there. In fact we start joking about how the guys with guns are nice because they DON"T bother you. They never ask for money, they just wave and continue on with their business.

Next we run into some camels.Camels are so cool to see upclose. What a unique animal. We decide these are not wild, mainly due to a few of them having cow bells around their neck, but also because of the guy watching them and us down the road. After we are done taking pictures and talking about how awesome camels are, we drive past the camel dude on the road. He flaggs us down yelling and holding out his hands for money. I kind of wish he had a gun because then he probably would have just thrown a friendly wave. That seems to be the trend.

Next up is lunch and it is really good and cheap. It's been a few days since I typed this, but I think it was about $2 each. That's two cokes, eggs, rice and some green stuff on top. (of course I grab my hot sauce bottle from the bike)There was other items on the menu for the more adventurous type. Not nick and I.This is the head cheif.Here she is boiling 6 eggs for us. After cookies, chips and concentrated pineapple juice for dinner the previous night, we decided to plan ahead for tonight.While the eggs are boiling, Nick goes out with the owner and picks up potatoes and an onion for 40 cents.
This is a small town with only dirt roads in and out, but it has two gas stations. We fill up the tanks, and find 10 liters of water for a few bucks. We are topped off with food/fuel/water, ready to go! A guy comes up to nick and introduces himself as a preacher. He points to the church, and Nick nods. Then he says, I also sell souvenirs. Would you like to have a look? Nick declines, What about you just give me a dollar? Nick declines again. We head out. Things like this is no longer suprising for us. It is becoming the norm. Even the paster of the town asks us for money. It's not even a friendly ask, most of the time is more a tell. They tell you to give them money. They don't say please. There is an attitude of entitlement. In their culture this is normal. If someone has more than you, they ARE entitled to give you some. Our culture where I am from is different. If you ask for somthing, you say please, you say thank you. You help someone because you want to be nice. Our cultures clash, and I prefer my over theres. I am starting to get tired of Africa. I am ready to experience a different culture. I can't wait for the middle east.

The next town we pass by has a huge mud pubble in the middle of the road, with picker bushes on both sides. I pull out my camera and let nick go through first. My intentions not being to get an awesome picture. I just don't want to do this one first. It look really sticky. I'm not sure how to tackle this one. Actually I am sure. I think I'll just drive around it through the rocks. Nick gets closer and stops. I tell him my plan is to drive around it. He says I'm a jerk for not pointing that out earlier and waiting for him to go through and get stuck. He is right, I am a jerk, but it would be funny. Any way we back up and a local man runs up. He says follow me there is a way around. Actually he doesn't speak english at all, but that's what I assume he said. I follow him down the path I was headed for anyway, and he scurrys ahead. Kids come out of no where as usually and start moving the big rocks out of the way for us. This "route" is getting more and more shady, but by now we have gone 100 yards and are half way back to the road. Might as well keep going. I pull out some camera equiptment to film this ridiclous sized portage. The kids and the village man.Rocks rocks everywhere.Finally we get through, and on the other side the four wheel drive toyotas that we met in the morning drive straight through the mud puddle passing us. Now the local village man comes up to me demanding 500 shillings. To put that in perspective that is enough money to eat at a restaurant close to 10 times. So he is charging us a ridiclous amount of money. Second of all, we never asked for a service, we were going to go that way anyhow. He was pretending to be nice and we just thought he was a good guy interested in helping someone. I guess not. We take off with kids and an angry man running behind us. I guess I translated what he said originally wrong. He probably told me "follow me this way, I'll have a few kids throw some rocks out of the way, and then pay me 500 shillings for a 10 minute ordeal."

This kind of stuff happens to us everyday and had simply gotten old. I am indeed ready for some new people to interact with. Nick and I talk on the intercoms for a while trying to figure out how we feel about simply being hassled everywhere we go. We develop some radical theories and reasons for this behavior that would never pass as approprate in a modern university setting. We came into this trip open minded and wanting to love the people. For the longest time we made excuses for their behaivor, but after seeing what we have seen, I am not fond of the African people I have met so far. This is a hard thing to talk about and I expect to be looked at negativly, but I can't change how we have been treated in this continent. Yes, we have ran into good people, but the ratio is 1-99. Ok, I'm done with that now.

Moving on to Nick's flat tire, and yes if you are keeping track this is two days in a row for him!It is so hot out, we take off all our riding gear to do this change. For once, no little kids come out from behind bushes, and for once we can't find the hole. We fill up the tube with tons of air and nothing. Can't find a leak. We can find a huge new dent in his rim.Nick says to heck with it, and uses his spare tube. Now Nick is tied with me on the flat tires. Well he's actually a 1/2 ahead from the tube that had two holes in it. Little does he know or I know, that I'm about to blow him out of the water in flat tire department.

Onward, the villages are getting more and more rustice the deeper we get into the bush. The scenery changes to rocks as we get closer to lake Turkana. It's a harsh environment out here in the desert.We plan on camping at the lake. Finally as it starts to get dark, we crest the last hill and there it is.Now where do we camp? We pass a few random "houses"It's getting dark we should pick something soon. We come across this and stop to ask if we can camp at his place for the night.The family there is awesome. They would love for us to camp. It is no problem. We set-up the tent and get cooking. The man comes over and offers us a fish. He is a fisherman by trade and by life. He kindly decline, as we already have plenty to eat. I give him some cookies and bread that we can spare and nick gets cooking on some potatoes and onions. I'm taking pictures. Our new friends are cooking dinner too, so when we are ready we join then to eat together.

Hard boiled eggs, with potatoes, onions, and hot sauce. This is the family.I am convinced that all kids love Nick.Now for the fun part. After dinner they want to sing and dance for us. This is really cool. This is the stuff Nick and I thrive on. This is real life Africa. This is why we came here. The dancing and singing goes on for hours into the night. Nick and I jump in on the lyrics at times. Our favorate song is the Baboon song. You get to make Baboon noises at anytime during the song. Nick lets our a few war cries and tries to figure out the dance. I do my best to film with the tools I have. The only light is my Iphone 4 flashlight app. Tough filming conditions, but I pumped out a video anyway.

It feels so good to be treated so kindly this evening. This is exactly what we needed. It is a welcome change from the others we have been interacting with. I think we found the 1 out of the 100 tonight!

Good night.






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