Hot Springs and Beyond...

Trip Start May 31, 2006
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Trip End Oct 14, 2006


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Sunday, July 16, 2006

The 15th saw us struggle out of bed with the sun heating up our tents by about 9am (pretty much the best lie in you'll normally manage in tent living). Anthony our guide had been up since 6am as that was when the bus left and that was where he'd slept. He went to organise a minibus for the day for us to get to the Hot Springs. We climbed into the Minibus and headed into Shashemene where we stopped for Brunch at a lovely cafe with delicious cakes, mixed fruit juices and their equivalent of doughnuts (whilst taking on passengers enroute and stopping at checkpoints as ever)! Then we headed off on a bumpy lane, past quite nice houses by Ethiopian standards with fences made of branches etc. After about an hour we got to the end of the lane and we had arrived at Wondoo Gent - the Hot Springs - now i don't know what springs to mind (excuse the pun) when i think of hot springs it wasn't a swimming pool - but that was what we found, a swimming pool but with very warm water - more like bath water than swimming pool water and it was filled by a local spring i believe hence the name. It was great - i had felt so mucky for so long and to soak in the hot spring/swimming pool for an hour and a half was absolute bliss...then just to top it off, they had pipes that essentially created a shower behind a concrete wall...and that had really hot water so i could wash my hair, after only a bucket shower in Moyale and no shower since you wouldn't believe the joy that can be beheld by a simple opportunity to shower and wash your hair... we were in heaven (which is quite apt as Gent means heaven in Americ (the ethiopian language)! We got back into the Minivan and started to head back in to Shashemene - there was a few extras in our minibus as we left the hot springs, but when we stopped at a point part way back they took on some more passengers...so we counted and there was us 7 plus a driver plus a further 14 passengers in one minibus...i think it had 12 seats and no i have no idea quite how they all got in, but if it means they can make more fares there seems to be no limit in Ethiopia!

When we got back to our hotel we all sat and chilled for a bit as there was a TV with the news on it which we hadn't caught in a while, then we walked to a little village near our hotel for some traditional Ethiopian dinner, the guys walked with us there and then left us to go into Awasa for the night. Anthony ordered us a fish dinner with the injera (the pancake bread) and we sat and had a good girlie natter, then just as we were going to walk back the thunder and lighting started, as did the rain...so we sat there until the storm finished about an hour later and then walked the 10mins back to our hotel trying to avoid puddles and vehicles on the road. We were back about 30mins when the guys got back and said Anthony had just said that he hoped we'd got back before it was dark as he wasn't sure that a group of girls should have been doing that walk on their own!! Now he tells us :-)

The next day we went into Awasa Town itself, we walked in at about 10am and went for an omlet and tea breakfast - it seems to be their key choice for breakfast. I have adjusted to their tea now, they have it with about 3 sugars and it's cinnamon flavoured with no milk in, but quite drinkable. Then we wandered on and jamie wanted to take a photo of a local old gent, so Anthony and him approached to ask and the guy got up and starting coming at them with his stick. Well i have never seen jamie run so fast, up and over this mound of earth by the road with Anthony close on his heels...we were all in stitches, as were most of the locals around us...just wish i'd got a photo of that! Then we walked on to Awasa lake (to the place where we were originally planned to be camping...and glad we were that we weren't camping there after all) as there was so many people there. It was graduation from the local University so the graduates were all by the lake or on the small boats on the lake with all their family dressed in their finest clothes having their photos taken. We then took a walk around the lake, but i felt a cold coming on, so wasn't as keen to hang around as the others, but it was interesting to see the local fishermen with their reed boats, and see the birds feeding in and around the lake. By the time we finally got back to the hotel it was gone 4pm. So we sat down and listened to some music, until the joyful sight of a big green truck turning into the hotel at 6pm that evening...apparently my face was beaming at the site, and it was lovely to have the team reunited again...we've become quite a unit so it was nice to have Ronnie, Peter and Greg back in the fold again! After an interesting meal at a local restaurant and some tej i went to bed early as i really wasn't feeling great...and at midnight when Sara came into the tent my sickness really became apparent as i then proceeded to throw up from midnight till 7.30 the next morning with probably about half an hour or so breaks to sleep in between. At this point i will put a thanks to Sara as she was absolutely great, and i did feel very sorry for her sharing a tent with me at that point.

In the morning i was feeling very rough so inbetween deep breaths i helped take the tent down and put my stuff in the truck, then i went in the cab with Ronnie and Peter (as Peter has his bed behind the seats) and they set off for Sheshamene for breakfast (where i just sat in the truck) and then on to Addis Ababa (and i just slept most of the way there in between hearing Peter and Ronnie cursing the terrible driving of the Ethiopians). We arrived at our hotel Amba hotel in Addis and Sara was given help setting up the tent. I managed to eat a banana (my standard illness food) so that i could eat my malaria tablet, and then when all the guys went out for our complementary meal at about 8pm i went to bed...managed to sleep for nearly 12 hours (whilst they went on to a nightclub) and woke up the next morning starting to feel vaguely human again!
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