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Pole to Pole

Day 84: Addis Ababa to Lake Awasa

Meki, Ethiopia 
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The roadside of Meki.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThis is the grim background to Oxfam's seventeen years of work out here, but Nick is hopeful that the Ethiopians will be able to solve their own problems.

'If one thinks about the fact that more than half the gross national product for the last seventeen years has been spent on the civil war, that is an awful lot to ask of anybody, let alone a country where there are such intractable problems.'

If the new government can give some encouragement to farmers to grow for profit, he believes that Oxfam, along with other non-government agencies, could help the country to a stage at which, as he puts it, 'Oxfam hopes to do itself out of a job.'

The landscape is changing again as we come down from the plateau and into the Rift Valley, part of a 4000-mile split in the earth's crust running from the Red Sea to Mozambique. Acacia trees have replaced fig and eucalyptus, their flat tops reflecting the flat, wide plain between distant mountain ranges. The dusty terrain is studded with termite mounds - white, chunky blobs like the droppings of some giant creature that has moved across the countryside.

Outside Meki we pass two priests standing beside the road beneath wildly colourful umbrellas. For a moment it looks as though they're hitch-hiking, but in fact they're collecting for church funds. As a vehicle goes by they upturn their brollies and people throw money in.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 84
  • Country/sea: Ethiopia
  • Place: Addis Ababa
  • Book page no: 186

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