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Entry 46 // Addis Ababa

Update by: Luke | April 6st 2011

We were in Addis Ababa which is the capitol of Ethiopia for almost 1 week. It was a welcome break from the 7 day offroad challenge that connected Kisumu to here. We are on a mission to get out of Africa and it is harder than expected. This whole week is dedicated to getting visas so we can accomplish our goal. We find a nice hotel to stay at, and as chance would have it, the husband/wife combo from South Africa on the BMW Dakars are here too. They are traveling with Angela, the German woman, who sold me the front tire that I didn't need back at Jungle Junction. Small world. They took the "easy" route up here and have decided to travel together at least until Europe. It was fun catching up with them over a cup of coffee in our hotel.

Speaking of our hotel, we scored a great place. It's cheap and they have free wifi in the lobby.. A maid shows me a room that we can have for $9.50. It has two beds and a balcony. This whole wing of the hotel looks empty. I ask the reception girl if we can get the corner room above the reception. She hands me the key and I check it out. The room only has one bed, but it's pretty big, it also has a balcony and a 1/2 bath. It's the same price so we take it.

One may wonder why I sprung for this room vs. the other. It's almost like a Encyclopedia Brown story, because I did leave a clue as to why I made this decision. My theory is that the internet router being right below us will give us signal in our room. Well, it worked. We scored the only room with free wifi at this place. We are off to a good start.

Day 1: Morning:
The first thing we do is hire a taxi to take us to the Saudi Arabia Embassy and work backwards from there. We take the taxi because this is a big city and we have no idea where the Embassy is located. Turns out our taxi driver didn't know either. He stopped at multiple embassys and made a few street shout outs Cash Cab style along the way. Luckily we had a pre arranged price for the ride, and luckily the armed gaurds at the Saudi Arabia Embassy didn't allow the taxi driver much time to change the price on us. He tried his best to get a little bit more, discouraged that he drove all over town looking for the place.

Wow, the people in this embassy are nice. Maybe that's the reason there are so many people here. They just come for the hospitality. Our turn comes and they ever so politly explain that they can not issue us a transit visa from Ethiopia. They will Issue it from Yemen though. The reasoning is this. Saudi only issues transit visas for a very short about of time (3-4 days.) Because of this they only issue the visas from Yemen and Jordan, so once you get your visa, you can immeitally use it and not waste your 3-4 days, trying to travel through other countries just to get there. They assure us, we can get the visa in Yemen. Ok, so lets go to the Yemen Embassy.

We get another taxi and go straight to the Yemen Embassy. No one is here. There is no line, we get right in. We are asked if we are aware of the current Yemen situation. We are not, but we say we are. (Right now Yemen is trying to overthrow it's government.) We show the guy our passports and he goes in the back room. He comes back out bering bad news. They can not grant us a visa. They do not want to be held accontable for helping us get into their country if something bad happens to us, I.E. we get killed. This news sucks. Sudan, won't let us in, Yemen won't let us in Saudi will let us in, but only from Yemen. Hmm... Well, lets at least try to get closer and get on the Red Sea where we have some ferry options. That means Djibouti.

We get a cab to the Djibouti Embassy. By now the office is closed. At least we can read the sign outside and see what we need to bring in the morning. Time to go back to the hotel. These cab rides are pretty expensive at 100 Bur a shot. We have time, lets try the mini bus system. The only problem is, we don't know the name of our hotel or where it is, but we also would have had that problem with a taxi driver. We get on a bus for 3 Bur each. We recognize most of the way back, but the closer we the more foreign it looks. We hop off the bus at the end of it's loop and start walking. We walk and walk and have no clue where we are. I lead the way with my hunches, but they are all wrong. We are lost, haha. I have zero money on me, but Nick has a bit. Nick is much much better with names than I am and thinks he remembers the hotel name. I just know it starts with a "T" He asks some people and they seem to understand and point in a direction. We walk more and more. Everytime Nick asks the people continue to point the same way. At least we are getting consistancy. We are tired hungry and hot, we eventually we find our way back. We have been searching for at least an hour.

Back at the home front I see a new adventure bike in the parking lot, with the owner fiddling with it. I strike up a conversation and he suggests we grab lunch. Over lunch we find out this guy is cool, AND he has information for us. He lived in Kenya for a year and is ready to bail back to Europe. He bought a bike and has plans to do our exact same route. He had the same Yemen visa no-go problem, but he met a guy named Seid who lives here an is obsessed with motorcycles. This guy loves to help fellow motorcyclists. He is Yemen, and speaks Arabic and English and has contacts everywhere. He is lining up plans for Bed to take a ferry from Djibouti to Saudi Arabia. A ferry that doesn't even exhist, but Seid knows people. We cut to the point and bluntly ask Ben if we can tag along. He is cool with this. We are siked. We are no longer stuck. Not only do we now have a plan, but we have people doing the work for us. We are the luckiest travelers. Everything always works out.

Fast forward a few days. We have our Djibout Visa, we made plans and we are ready to leave.

Fate has a different plan for us. It starts with Ben getting a infection in his balls. So he's out for a week or so. We unfortunatly can not wait for him, so we start to take off. The next problem is I got a flat tire in the parking lot over the night. By the time I fix my flat, it's already past noon and we can it for the day. One more night won't hurt. The next morning we are all packed up again. As we are leaving Seid's house and saying good by, Nick gets a flat front tire. This delays us more, but we can not stay here any longer. Eventually we leave by 3:00 p.m.

Now we are on the road, alone without Ben or Seid. We have contact numbers to help us arrange the Ferry in Djibouti, but it's going to be alot harder on our own. This ferry thing could be tricky.

Pictures to back up the story.

We have the corner room above the lobby, the only room with wifi. This is Ben and Seid planing our route to take while Nick and I sit back and enjoy having this part taken care for us. Seid is just like us when it comes to city driving. Here he takes is Kawasaki 250 to the sidewalks to pass a few cars.Nick and I both find used tires in this town. Nicks rear.My front.This is Seids home where we are treated like brothers. We are always welcome here. Every meal is a feast.The second day we are supposted to leave. Seid tries to straighten out nicks rim a bit, during the flat tire repair.Once again it's kind of sad to leave. We made friends and lots of them. Everyday you wake up and there is someone on the terrace drinking cofffee or relaxing. Always a person to grab a bit to eat with and so on. Our room becomes the hangout area for the week, and we find out that everyone has been calling us the "Michiganiacs" because of all the stories about our trip that we tell. Driving at night through a game park, covering Africa in record speed. Riding paperless in Kenya. Doing all this without a Caranet. It's awesome to be around people who support what you are doing. There are other reasons for our nickname, but like the man in Belize, we can not always tell the whole story because of legal reasons.






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