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Pole to Pole

Day 84: Addis Ababa to Lake Awasa

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleClusters of small, deep-red spots on my arm, stomach and around my ankles indicate, according to Dawood (How to Stay Healthy Abroad), the activities of cimex, which sounds like a Swiss drug company but is in fact the Latin name for bedbug. I found it in the chapter entitled 'Fleas, lice, bugs, scabies and other creatures', which I defy anyone to read without scratching. After a lot of misunderstanding I manage to persuade hotel housekeeping to come up and spray my bed.

'Make the bed?'

'No . . . no . . . the bed is made, but it has some bugs in it, which need to be removed.'

'You want your bags removed?'

The combination of bugs in the bed and a bug in my digestive system has meant little rest, but nothing much has gone right here. The management even chose our day off to empty the swimming-pool.

Now, a little after seven in the morning, we are leaving Addis, to no one's regret, and heading south again. I am in an Oxfam Land-cruiser, accompanied by Nick, with an Oxfam helper, Tadesse, at the wheel.

The road out of Addis is metalled and we make good progress. We pass factories and power-stations on the outskirts of town. Nick reckons that the industrial infrastructure is enough for Ethiopia's needs, but is run at only thirty per cent of its potential.

Most Ethiopians are farmers anyway - ninety-two per cent of the population, in fact. Of these, eighty-nine per cent are subsistence farmers, growing only what they need for themselves. Our journey from the Sudanese border has been through the provinces of Gondar, Shewa and now Arsi, the only three that produce a surplus. The other eleven provinces survive at a basic level or in the recent cases of Wollo, Tigray and Eritrea not even that.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 84
  • Country/sea: Ethiopia
  • Place: Addis Ababa
  • Book page no: 185

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