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Pole to Pole

Day 86: Lake Awasa to Moyale

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAt the Bekele Molla hotel we are greeted by the good news that Monty Ruben is not seriously ill and that Abercrombie and Kent, the safari people, have at the last minute organized alternative transport for us to Nairobi.

Our hotel is described by its manager as the best hotel in Moyale. I cannot imagine what the opposition must be like. The rooms are set off a yard in motel style. I do have a double bed with slightly damp but, I think, clean sheets and there is electric light, but the bathroom has no running water or flushing lavatory. A half-full plastic bucket of water must serve all my needs. The curtain is a fragment of torn sacking and there is a heady smell of stale urine.

I'm told that there is a serious water crisis in the town. Wells have been sunk but the water is brackish. Southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya are becoming part of the Sahel - the sub-Saharan area that is turning rapidly into desert. This information only serves to turn my particular gloom into a general gloom. So little of what I have seen so far in Africa can by any stretch of the imagination be described as progress, with the possible exception of the pump and well I saw yesterday near Boditi. Maybe 'progress' is a Western concept, irrelevant in African terms. Talk of 'solutions' and 'ways forward' may make us feel better but can mean nothing until the yawning gap between Western and African culture begins to narrow and that probably requires a lot more listening and a lot less talking.

I finish the day writing up my notes in my hotel room. I feel a light tingling on my left arm and look down to find that I have diverted a column of ants off the wall and across my body.

Later. After a last taste of injera and wat at a restaurant in the town, I have doused myself with Repel, lit one of the spiral anti-mosquito burners provided and taken a large swig of Scotch. I hope my dreams of Ethiopia will not be affected by this grim place, for so much of what I have seen of the country has been a rich and surprising revelation.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 86
  • Country/sea: Ethiopia
  • Place: Moyale
  • Book page no: 192

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