“In HDP next week…” I begin, continuing into description of the several activities that are going to take place and detailing what the course participants need to do to prepare. I then set the next task and they start to get on with the activity. At this point my counterpart, the local leader for the course, quietly informs me, “We can’t have class next week because there are end of semester exams.”
A quizzical eyebrow is raised in response to this. These being the exams that we had discussed previously and which, due to the course being way off schedule, had decided that the HDP classes would still run around.
At the end of the session I break the news to the class. The counterpart is gone by this point. All credit to him, he actually came to this session though. Presumably to ruin my course planning further! There is some unhappiness as they realise that this could mean the course will end later.
In spite of the initial disappointment I quickly sought to turn the whole thing to my advantage. I had intended a trip to a different part of Ethiopia anyway during the fast approaching semester break and I recalled that the Dean had told me he was going up to Addis with college car that coming Monday. Re-working my planning and tackling the Dean on Sunday at the wedding of the daughter of one of the Admin staff (ceremonies like this here are wide-reaching affairs) I made my request. Even though this was the day before it wasn’t a problem. This is just one of the many fantastic things about this country- because everything is so last minute these things are often possibilities and a car ride to Addis was not to be sniffed at. Not only would it save on the price of a bus it would also be a lot more comfortable. We were to leave early-ish, about 8am, the next morning.
Monday I was packed and ready to go and a little worried that I was 2 minutes late heading out of my little home here. Silly me. This is Ethiopia. To cut a long story short and after several random trips around the town (I had got into the car thinking we were about to leave), including collecting three additional passengers, we started on our journey around 11 o’clock. With the extra cargo it was pretty cramped and perhaps not a lot more comfortable than the public transport option.
Feeling guilty that the cramped conditions were down to my late request, my fears were silenced when it turned out that the town administrator had requested the dean to take these three extra passengers Monday morning. My request was positively in advance by comparison. Since the car was overcrowded two of the other passengers actually got off at Bore (avid readers will know this town well – it’s the breakfast town for the busses that travel between Hawassa and Adola). Comfort levels back up to an acceptable standard we continued our journey, stopping for lunch in the Rasta town of Shashemene (although they didn’t particularly make their presence felt) which involved my hunting for a bank to get some money. It had all been so last minute I hadn’t had a chance to get any and had only about 30 birr on me (about £1) I mentioned to the dean that lunch might be on him and he facilitated my finding some money! (I don’t remember who paid for lunch in the end. It wasn’t me though)
Our fellow passenger was an American Pasteur who was pursuing a business enterprise involving a new vehicle to replace the Bajaj. There seems to be some dealing going on with the family of the town administrator. Needless to say we heard all about this wonderful vehicle and the wonderful man who had the wonderful idea – my last mention of the matter will be to suggest that perhaps modesty was not one of his stronger attributes.
One of my favourite place names in Ethiopia is Mojo. It is town, about an hour outside of Addis and I am now familiar with this place because that’s as far as we got Monday. Even though the dean was going to Addis on the Monday he wasn’t arriving until the Tuesday. This was always the plan ( I just didn’t know it) and the reason for this is quite simple. The dean was going to Addis on business with the Ministry of Education. For this the Ministry pays a per diem, which is lovely. It is meant to cover the cost of accommodation and food for the period in the capital. Unfortunately it is not even enough to cover the hotel costs and so many people choose to overnight outside the capital (at about 1/5 of the cost) and continue the journey in the morning. So, I had the pleasure of adding an additional stop on my trip up North.
I didn’t have any pictures from this part of the trip so the ones included here are “teasers” for the next entries!
Next time: Escape from Addis