Friday, March 3, 2017

Ethiopia return trip #2 Part 7

We woke up at 5:00AM to be at the small Soyema bus station at 5:30. There are two buses a week to Konso, and there are always more people who want to ride them than there are seats. We waited outside the gates, and when they were unlocked at 6:00AM, T and our teacher friend rushed in like it was Walmart on Black Friday. Luckily we got seats. The bus left the station with every seat full but no one in the aisles, in adherence with transportation regulations. Then it drove two blocks down the road and picked up everyone else who hadn't been able to get a seat. I entertained myself on the two-hour ride to Konso by waging a silent battle for six inches of floor space with the woman next to me.

The day before, T and I had climbed 30 minutes up a hill to get cell phone reception and call Chuchu, our resident guardian angel in Konso. He was waiting for us at the bus station. He took us to breakfast, to the rock formations known as "New York" -

and on a tour of a Konso village. Very cool winding rocky streets and hundreds-years-old community houses where teenage boys spend their nights guarding against invaders.

Chuchu had arranged a van to take us to Arba Min'ch. He said that four years ago I wrote him a review on TripAdvisor that made his tour business take off, and because of that he didn't want any payment. I think his business took off because he's a great guy and excellent tour guide. We did persuade him to accept our tent as a gift, so now he can also offer camping tours (I have his contact information if you're interested).

In Arba Min'ch we stayed at the Soma Lodge, right on the edge of the escarpment. Positives - amazing view, comfy beds, interesting fellow travelers including a group of adult adoptees returning from Spain, a large troop of baboons living right below us on the cliffside. Negatives - barely functioning bathrooms.

In Arba Min'ch we arranged a boat ride to finally see the famous crocodiles of Lake Chamo -

and we walked in Ne'ch Sar National Park. 

The rest of the time we hung out by the pool at Paradise Lodge. Honestly, we were done. After the great week in the village everyone was ready to go home, but we had a couple of days to wait and it was more pleasant to be in Arba Min'ch than in the pollution of Addis.

We flew to Addis on August 19 and stayed in a little hole-in-the-wall hotel. We had our last meals with friends, went shopping for gifts and food to take home, watched some of the Rio Olympics, and in a last minute surprise, got to see Dawitt, our wonderful guide from 2014. In the early morning of August 21 we took an ancient Lada taxi to the airport and flew home.

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