Cyclists don’t generally emerge from a trip to Ethiopia unscathed. Little boys like this find foreigners on loaded touring bikes irresistible. They chase them, grab them, scream at them, taunt them with sticks, and throw rocks at them. And that’s just the warm-up. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any of that before I went there. It came as a bit of a shock. But I soldiered on and endured the onslaught. It was a price I was willing to pay for the astonishing scenery and the richness of local life.
This was a big trip for me, and I planned it for a long time. I chose Ethiopia because it is unique in Africa with its rugged, mountainous north and mix of cultures and complex and rich history. And I purchased a brand new bike and cycling gear precisely for the rough roads I expected to encounter. The trip ended up being a highlight of my life. Unfortunately, this journal is not complete. I stopped keeping a written journal and began keeping a journal on tape. The plan was to transcribe the tapes, but that turned out to be a monumental task. The journal ends when I reach Gondar, and that was really just the beginning. Maybe someday I will complete it.
It was 1:30 in the morning. My flight was the last of the day, perhaps the only flight of the day, and with my usual affinity for the tail end of any line-up I was ...