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Pole to Pole

Day 86: Lake Awasa to Moyale

Awasa, Ethiopia 
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The road to Kenya: family life.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleScatter the monkeys from the vehicles at seven o'clock as we load up once again. It's our eleventh day in Ethiopia. By tonight we hope to be in the border town of Moyale, 325 miles away. We pick our way through the Awasa rush-hour, in which we are about the only vehicles. Everyone else is walking: schoolchildren, farmers, soldiers, workers on their way to the textile factory or the production lines of the National Tobacco and Matches Corporation.

There is not much public transport down here. People either walk, or pack into the back of precarious and overladen pick-up trucks which travel at lethal speeds. There is the occasional bus, so occasional that it is usually packed to the gunnels. The only other alternative is to hitch a ride on top of a truck. This sounds to me a novel way of seeing Africa, which is why I end up jostling with banana-sellers in the main road at Yirga Alem at nine o'clock on a Thursday morning. After a half-hour wait we persuade a small truck packed with sacks of kef to take us some of the way to Moyale.

The roadside buzzes with life on this stretch of green, fertile, lushly tropical valley, and besides the usual firewood and charcoal vendors are small children waving sugar canes four times their own size, and squatting figures laying out white peanuts to dry on the hot road surface.

Pedestrians - mostly women - toil by with enormous loads on backs or heads. A mountain of cut grass almost obscures the old lady beneath it, giving the impression that it is moving up the road of its own volition.
Awasa, Ethiopia 
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The road to Kenya: the Comic Relief well.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 86
  • Country/sea: Ethiopia
  • Place: Awasa
  • Book page no: 190

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