We were due to leave Addis at 6a.m. to begin our 520 km road journey to Woldia. This being Ethiopia, I brazenly left the packing til morning and even more brazenly still set the alarm for 5:45.
Imagine my surprise therefore when the driver arrived on at 5:40! The 4X4 was loaded up with our goods and our gear and with military precision we were on the road before six.
Having already flirted with near/certain death by traffic accident on the unpaved streets of Addis, I braced myself for the road ahead. But I needn’t have worried as a great stretch of tarmacadam lay before us all the way to Woldia. And as luck would have it, the driver was a smoker and we got the chance to get out and stretch our legs every now and then, to taste the Ethiopian air. All things conspired to make for an altogether pleasurable journey.
On this my seventh day ever in Africa, I strained out the window trying, impossibly, to soak it all in; this vast country and the changes that every few kilometres brings. There was cactus and camels, muslims and mud huts, open prisons and fruit plantations, the cool mountain breeze scented with eucalyptus and the killing heat of the lowlands where there wasn’t even a puff of air.
I could have done with more eyes in my head but had to make do with what I had.
We planned to break the journey for the night in Dessie where James, a Kenyan volunteer and my honorary brother was to be placed.