The bus station touts directed AA and us to the proper minibus going to Bishoftu where we had to wait until the bus was full before it left. The fare to the town located 50km to the southeast was only 36 birr per person, a ridiculously low $1.75!
We also passed number of nurseries where plants were sold to 'rich people,' AA stated.
As we drove, one of the bus station touts began trolling for passengers with his head and most of his body out the van's side door, yelling to passersby the bus was going to Bishoftu and there was room for them too! I considered it free entertainment!
The minibus finally reached Bishoftu about 11. We had wanted to come to the fast growing town because it was built around a field of volcanic calderas and seven crater lakes. There were tuk tuks waiting at the bus station so AA, aged 24, negotiated with one of them to drive us out to Lake Bishoftu, the nearest lake. It was the first time we had seen any tuk tuks in Ethiopia and it was just like their counterparts all over Asia and India.
The terrain was interesting to look at but I was just thankful we all had cast iron stomachs on that road!
Animals definitely had the right of way; you could tell that they don't see cars on the road very often.
After a bone-jarring ride, we finally reached as close as we could get to Green Lake in the tuk tuk.
We weren't going to hike to the bottom of the hill to the lake but a walk through the gorge sounded very enticing.
We noticed cattle grazing down by the lake. Sure hope they had access to other drinking water.
The positive thing about our coming out all this way was not the lakes but the intersting drive through the countryside. Whether it was worth the money getting there is another point but just trying to paint a 'glass half full' picture!
Back in the tuk tuk and on our bumpy way back to Bishoftu:
Another local home:
Fun seeing the kids trying to catch up to us as we drove through the village!
All i could think of when I saw the local elementary school was wow, do our kids ever have it lucky.
Traveling long distances for water carrying a wee one on her back:
The local military authority:
More school kids returning for lunch at 12:30:
Statue in the middle of Bishoftu where the tuk tuk driver dropped us off. We didn't want to eat lunch so we arranged to meet AA, who was hungry, at a certain time and place so we could walk around and see the town. We made it clear to AA that we would meet him in 'Amerian time' and not 'African time' but he was still twenty minutes late!
Bishoftu was not an exciting place to be or, in any sense, set up for tourists at all.
We saw SO many mattresses up and down the town's two streets, we wondered who could be buying all of them.
This was our first Merry Christmas and Happy New Year sign we had seen. I think we'll be seeing lots of those soon as our trip is coming to a close and we'll be home soon in time for the holidays.
I bought a Tshirt for you, Zachary, and the fellow tried to con me into giving him a tip on top of the purchase price with the straightest of faces.
It was clear that AA's sense of time was way off from our admittedly Western perspective where we consider it rude to keep people waiting. Once AA sauntered along, it was back to the bus station in Bishoftu and then the ride back to Addis via the minibus.
Since we had hired AA for the day and our trip to Bishoftu hadn't taken as long as we hoped and planned, Steven and I needed to figure out in a hurry where we should have AA take us. He suggested some of the museums and a couple of churches in the center, but we vetoed those ideas as we figured we could see those on our own the next day. The best option, we felt, was Entoto Maryam and Menelik's Palace, located 2km from the most northerly suburbs as it would be hard to reach on our own.
AA wanted us to take a taxi from the southern bus station to the light rail station and from there the light rail going north a bit. However, we considered the price he gave us or was given by the taxi driver to be an outrageous price: $13 versus just $2 for a shared minibus all the way to the Piazza which was well north of the city center. To us, it was a no brainer and it turned out to be far more of an adventure too!
The driver's associate half leaned out of the minibus, shouting out the destination repeatedly to everyone walking by. When people wanted to hop in, they had to be johnny on the spot or be left by the wayside as the driver barely slowed down the vehicle!
We recognized the Bank of Abyssinia at the Piazza from our foray there yesterday. It had taken us an hour to get there from the city's regional bus station located in the far southern part of the capital. AA had said previously it would only take 30 minutes - we soon realized that we needed to double the time to get from Point A to Point B any time given to us by Ethiopians as their sense of time differed so wildly from ours!
Once at the Piazza, AA had to find the minibus going to the next stop on our northern trek: Arat Kilo.
As we drove past the Ethiopian Press Agency, I wondered how much freedom the press enjoys normally in Ethiopia, let alone then when the government had imposed a state of emergency lasting six months.
Taking minibuses all the way from the far south of the city to the northernmost part was not the easiest nor the quickest way to have done it but it sure gave us a very real sense of the city and the way people got around it. It had taken us 90 minutes just to get this far and we still had one more minibus ride to go! A view from the cramped quarters at the back of the minibus:
Steven counted more than 20 people on the bus although the 'capacity' was probably more like 15. Just hope the bus would make it up the winding hills still ahead with all that weight on board!
I shudder to think how much the branches weighed the women were carrying and how often they made these same trips. I didn't need to remind myself how incredibly fortunate we were to be seeing this from the comfort of the bus and not having to perform such back-breaking labor day in and day out.
A panoramic view of AA far below us:
The church and palace were at the end of the road; there was nowhere north from there.
It's very hard to tell but the doors were made of cow skin.
Ox horns used to hang raw meat:
Even though the site is a revered and sacred place for so may faithful, it was still a thriving community for many locals.
The kids had a hoot as I joined in their hopscotch game for a few seconds. It was the first time I had played in over 50 years!
The faithful outside the church, attired in white robes as per Ethiopian custom.
The first of our many bus rides back down the hill toward Addis!
The many hills up to Entoto Maryam must be a perfect place to train for cyclists as we saw many of them at the end of the day.