Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ethiopia trip (part 4: getting back to Addis)

We got stuck in the river around noon on Sunday and arrived in Karati about 9PM, leaving the car behind. Early the next morning, Chuchu, the man who had rescued us, our driver H, and the driver of a large flatbed truck we hired went back to the river to pull the car out. T and I waited in Karati. In the early afternoon they came back; they had been unsuccessful. At that point T and I were anxious to start back toward Addis because we'd been told we could have a court date on Wednesday. We gave the remainder of our money to H and he went off on the back of a motorcycle to meet a truck that would approach the river from the Burji side. Then Chuchu, T and I got in a mini-bus and went north to Arba Minch. In Arba Minch we had a late lunch, then went to the bank and got out the money for the flatbed truck driver. By the time we were done it was evening, so other than a walk around town, we didn't see much of the area. Chuchu arranged a ride for us to return to Addis early the next day. Alas, no giant crocodiles on this trip.

We said goodbye to Chuchu in Arba Minch, as he was heading back to settle things with the truck driver. If anyone reading this is ever looking for a tour guide for the Omo Valley, I would love to send you Chuchu's contact information. This man really went above and beyond for us. You could not find a better guide.

I don't remember the name of the driver who took us to Addis, but he looked like Lenny Kravitz. Lenny was driving two contractors who had been working on a new road in the west, and they had space in the car for two more. It was a really interesting ride. The contractors were very nice and their English was good. They picked good stops along the way and we had our first tastes of qocho (enset root) and chechebsa (a thin, sweet bread). Lenny gave me my first taste of chat. As the day went on Lenny got more and more hyped up on chat. We were kind of relieved to get to Addis in one piece.

Of course there was no court date on Wednesday. On Wednesday evening, while we were having dinner with our Amharic tutor's sister R, we heard from H, our original driver. He had finally gotten the car out of the river. The truck from the Burji side had failed. A bulldozer from the bridge construction had finally succeeded. Unfortunately H had used the last of his money for the bulldozer and was now stuck in Arba Minch unable to get home. We made arrangements to wire him some money the next day. A shout-out here to M, R's twelve-year-old son, who interpreted between us and H and R to make all the arrangements.

The next couple of days were hard, as we heard about lots of possible progress on the Burji cases that did not come through. On Saturday we got some more details about the cause of the problem and for the first time we were told not to expect a court date any time soon. It was time to go home.


  1. Unbelievable.
    I am glad you have reasons for the delay but I know it is hard hard hard too. (((hugs))

  2. Although I know you did not have the trip you expected, at least you got some other excitement in! You'll have stories to tell to your children for years about the day your car got stuck in the mud on this trip. I know none of that excitement can make up for what you missed on this trip, and the uncertainty of the situation has got to be just terrible. I've been thinking about you and hoping for good news for you very, very soon.