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Old 05-18-2012, 01:18 AM   #1306
Jammin OP
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Ethiopia, Part 6: Historical Axum and Mountainous Twisties
July 12 - 14, 2011

My ride north through the highlands of Ethiopia lead me to the historical city of Axum. It was here that the Kingdom of Axum flourished from 100 to 940 CE, as they were aware of their strategic location in the trade route between the Roman Empire and India. Axum's glory days were built on the fact that they had access to African products (ivory, gold, salt) that could be transported via waterways, namely the Red Sea just north of here through Eritrea and the Nile River. Axum is a small, remote, inland city these days, faded from its past glory, but water and riches featured prominently during its golden years.

I met up with Mitch, who I met in Gondar, and together we explored some of the ancient sites in and around Axum. After two days there, I turned south and headed down the eastern side of the Ethiopian Highlands towards Lalibela.



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Entrance to the historical city of Axum, in the far north of Ethiopia, once the capital of a great kingdom but today faded to a regional city.


But camel caravans still cross the streets in Axum, just as they did during the millennia-long rule of this kingdom.


I met up with Mitch and we went on a hike with some local friends he made up this hill outside Axum. In the foreground are the rocky fields that teff is grown on with the modern city of Axum down below.


The hike lead to this monastery perched on top of the hill. From here south is old-hard-to-reach-monastery land in Ethiopia, an area dotted with similar sites, a testament to the strong Christian tradition here. In the 4th century CE (AD), King Ezana II introduced Christianity to his kingdom after being converted and baptized by Saint Frumentius, who was made a bishop by the Coptic Church in Alexandria in order to spread the faith.


A photo with Mitch and his two Habesha (Ethiopian) friends. Mitch's grandfather worked in the banking sector of Addis in the 1970s and was traveling around the country this summer to get to know the land that his recent ancestor lived in. He hitched a rough ride in a delivery truck from Gondar to Axum and was jealous of my transportation. A nice connection with Mitch is that his father works for a top team in Formula 1 and that's the only sport that I follow, so I heard lots of inside stories during our hike.


After days of eating Ethiopian vegetarian food, which is delicious, we splurged and got some grilled goat tips, which is had with some berbere spice mixed with oil. Mmm, mmm, good.


In the afternoon we visited the prime historical site in Axum, the Northern Stelae Field; a site where many tall obelisks stand. Just like the pyramids of Egypt and Sudan, these stelae mark the location of the tombs of royalty and other important people of their time. The stele on the left is called the Obelisk of Axum and it stands 24 m (78 ft) tall and the stele on the right, with the supports, is King Ezana's Stele, at 21 m (70 ft). Axum is a seismically-active zone and most stelae have fallen, except King Ezana's, which has been standing since it was built in 4 CE. That was also the last time that Axumities made obelisks, because the new Christian order forbade this pagan practice.


The Obelisk of Axum, thought to have fallen and broken a few years after it was made in 4 CE. During the brief Italian occupation of Ethiopia (1936 - 1941), Mussolini ordered this broken stele to be brought back and erected in Rome, as a spoil of war and as a symbol of his new Italian Empire, which only lasted those five years. After much wrangling by Ethiopia's rulers over the next few decades and with the UN pushing, Italy finally accepted to return this obelisk to the Ethiopians in 2003. But transporting such huge stones were an issue for the now land-locked Ethiopia and only after the runway at Axum was reinforced could an Antonov An-124 cargo plane land and return the stele in pieces. The obelisk was rebuilt and opened to the public in 2008 and at the same time, they reinforced King Ezana's Stele.


The Obelisk of Axum with its rounded-top that was originally covered in polished metal. Below the top are false windows in the granite obelisk for the royal spirits to look over their subjects.


At the base of the obelisks in Axum are two false doors to symbolize the entrance to the underworld.


The Northern Stelae Field of Axum with many broken stelae lying around, with the Great Stele in the center. The history of the site is interesting but the actual area was a bit disappointing as there are electric power lines running through the site along with the area looking quite disorganized.


The Great Stele, lying broken on the ground, supposedly to have fallen during construction in the years around 4 CE. If it was standing, it would be the tallest stele at 33 m (108 ft). My guess is that the stele designers of Axum decided to make subsequent stelae shorter in height so that they would actually stand, like the other two royal stelae, sort of.


Nearby to the stelae field is this giant water reservoir, which Ethiopians believe is Queen of Sheba's Bath. She is a prominent figure in Ethiopian history and from whom all Ethiopian emperors claimed direct descent, from the first, Menelik I in the 10th century BCE to the last, Haile Selaisse in 1974. Her importance is largely due to the Ethiopian story that she was tricked into sleeping with King Solomon during a visit and conceived Menelik I who was given the revered Ark of the Covenant to take to Ethiopia for safe-keeping. The ark is said to contain the original stone tablets of the Ten Commandments and to this day, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims that they sit in a special church in Axum, but nobody is allowed to see it.


The outer edges of modern Axum...


...harking back to the old days. As my friend Scott would say here, "Waddup, cow!"


The Lioness of Gobedra, a large relief carved on this rock on the outskirts of Axum. Not much is known about its significance except a local story that says Archangel Michael was attacked by a lion here and he repelled the lion with such a strong force that it left an impression on this rock.


Walking back into town on Italy Street, which is paved with cobble-stones, much like the rest of the city.


Getting a huge glass of fresh mango juice, which was delicious with a hint of lime. Two glasses, for Mitch and I, cost just 10 Birr ($0.60).


Passing by and taking a look at these beef carcasses hanging with their friendly butcher welcoming us in. Most Ethiopians fast about half the year by not eating meat on those days, but they do love their meat. There is a special Ethiopian dish called kifto, which is minced raw beef mixed with mitmita, a spice mix, and niter kibbeh, a spiced clarified butter.


Back on the road, heading east from Axum to the junction town of Addigrat, where turning north leads to Eritrea and south to Addis Ababa.


The road was in excellent condition and the scenery was epic, with numerous volcano-shaped mountains covering the landscape. The overcast day added to the ominous feeling that I had, riding alone in this giant landscape. Just beyond those mountains lay Eritrea, a country that shares much of its cultural history with Ethiopia, but today, due to politics, these brothers consider each other enemies, much like the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan.


Enjoying the wonderful twisties of northern Ethiopia and longing for a sport bike to truly enjoy these undulating curves...


...but sanDRina is a good compromise bike in that she can ride well through mud and sand and still be a joy on twisty pavement, even while loaded down with all my worldly possessions. The DR650, a fine example of a dual-sport motorcycle. Yeah, I'm cutting the corner, but this is an open corner and there was really no traffic, almost.


The mountains flowing their energy into sanDRina, whos showing off her past travels in a distant continent. The big sticker on the bottom is from the city of Brazilian city of Sao Luis, where I spent three weeks, followed by a timeline map of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present and the X-bar sticker is from the Long Now Foundation, a group dedicated to raising awareness about long-term thinking, instead of our current short-term and end-times preoccupation.


Climbing some serious grade as I crossed a mountain range that rose from the 2,100 m (7,050 ft) elevation around Axum up past 3,050 m (10,000 ft) before descending to Addigrat.


I came flying around this corner and was greeted by a group of Ethiopian children, all running out to sell me some prickly pears, which were in season now. I really wanted to stop as I was hungry and enjoy this fruit, but there was no safe place to stop and I knew I would be mobbed if I did, so I kept on, knowing I would find it again. Like this, there were many times where people would run out onto the road pushing some fruit or vegetable for drivers to buy.


sanDRina was running in top form, climbing and descending these mountainous twisties when after rounding out a hairpin turn, I lost all drive and the engine quit on an uphill incline. I first checked to see if there was fuel in the tank and there was. She started up but if I opened the throttle, the engine died. I figured something was up with the carburetor and found the culprit when I opened the bottom of the carb and saw that this jet needle came out with my main jet. Hmmm...


The jet needle is supposed to be attached to the black slider, which is attached to my throttle cable and the jet needle goes in and out of a hole in the main jet, which determines how much fuel and consequently, air to allow into the engine to combust into power. The jet needle is secured to the slider by a small cir-clip, which worked itself loose and dropped the jet needle into the main jet and starved the engine of fuel and air when the throttle was opened. Followers of the journey will remember that I had an on-going issue with the jet needle during my time in Brazil, which was finally sorted when my sister and Gus, my mechanic friend in Chicago, shipped me a new jet needle. That was installed 26,018 kms (16,170 mi) ago in Buenos Aires and has been running fine since then until now, which is not bad for a mean time between failure (MTBF) of this system.


I put the cir-clip back on the jet needle and reassembled everything and sanDRina was running fine again. Of course, by this time, there was an audience to my road-side repairs of nearby villagers, who were very polite and just let me get on with diagnosing and fixing the issue. If there had been just kids around, I'm sure I would've been hassled a lot to give money, pens or sweets. There really was very little traffic on this road, evident by everyone just standing in the middle of the road.


sanDRina was running great once again and I hoped the fix would hold as I was riding the technical mountainous pass before Addigrat, which was non-stop switch-backs on roads with no guard rails. To add to the technicality of the road, I had to anticipate trailer trucks cutting the corners, such as this guy around the upcoming switch-back.


Climbing high and capturing the terrace farming of these mountainous people.


At the summit of the pass, 3,057 m (10,027 ft), I encountered heavy fog, which at times reduced visibility to a few meters. But that soon cleared up as I descended down the other side to Addigrat, from where I turned right and started heading south once again.


A little past Addigrat, I found a lone prickly pear seller by the roadside and stopped to enjoy a lunch of 10 of these delicious fruits. They're also known as opuntia or cactus fruit, as they grow on the ends of cactus leaves. They have to be peeled carefully to avoid the small thorns, called glochids, that are very hard to remove once lodged in the skin. She would peel them and then I would pick the exposed fruit flesh and pop it in my mouth, where it just melted. It's really sweet and I couldn't get enough. They're native to the Western Hemisphere and were introduced to Eritrea and Ethiopia during Italy's brief East African sojourn.


Riding into the afternoon and capturing these hardy donkeys as they trudged along on the road with their makeshift goods carrier, which was an oil drum, split in half and then bent to form across the spine.


It threatened to rain just as I got near Mekele, but I made it to a hotel before the daily onslaught of falling water.


Stopping for the night in Mekele and enjoying secured parking at Dallas Hotel for 50 Birr ($3), near the bus station. By nightfall, the courtyard was filled with pickup trucks and vans from workers on the road and in the field.


There wasn't much to Mekele, so after a stroll through town and buying some dried fruit and nuts for the ride ahead, I ordered some dinner from the hotel's restaurant. This lovely lady is preparing some tasty tagabino, made the proper way over a charcoal fire, for that added flavor.


Enjoying a quiet night in with dinner in bed of injera with goat tips for 30 Birr ($1.80) and a Planet Earth episode on my laptop. I enjoy being social just as much as I enjoy being on my own.


Waking up the next day to overcast skies and a constant drizzle as I headed towards Lalibela, 445 kms (277 mi) away.


It was going to be a long day as those 400 plus kilometers were all on twisty mountainous roads, which were wet. The air was moist, increasing the humidity and making the reduced temperatures, due to the high altitude, even more pronounced. I was wearing my maximum number of layers, six, and felt comfortable as the temperatures dropped near freezing. My six layers for really cold riding are made up of a natural silk base layer against the skin, then a synthetic base layer, then thermals, then windproof liners, then the Kevlar mesh riding suit and on top of that rain pants and rain jacket. I dont have heated gear, but this works fine for me and got me through chilly Patagonia and rain riding in Ethiopia.


sanDRina looking clean and fresh after some rain riding on asphalt. Who needs a bike wash? All that mud got cleaned away.


Cactus with blooming prickly pears. They now grow wild all along the roadside, allowing many rural people to pick the harvest and try and sell it while the season lasted.


The roads were seriously 'this' steep. At the junction town of Woldia, I turned west to climb the eastern flank of the highlands as I headed towards Lalibela. The road climbed and peaked at 3,548 m (11,640 ft) before dropping down to 1,900 m (6,234 ft) and finishing off in Lalibela at 2,400 m (7,874 ft).


There are two roads that lead to Lalibela and I was told not to take the first one as it was very muddy with the recent rains, so I continued on the high plateau asphalt road that heads west to Bahir Dar and turned off at the second route, which was also dirt but a much improved road, with hard-packed mud. This dirt road descended sharply from the high plateau with lots of muddy switch-backs.


It was a cold day and my rain gear was breached in places, leaving me feeling wet, but all that was worth it for the moment the rain stopped and the lush landscape breathed out its low-hanging clouds into the clear air.


A panorama stitch of the road to Lalibela as it descended down these lush, terraced mountainsides. Click here to see the high resolution version.


Farmers growing teff on the mountainsides of the Ethiopian Highlands.


Riding the last stretch into the architectural wonders of Lalibela.

I moved from one historical wonder of Ethiopia, Axum, to another, Lalibela and the interesting part of traveling with a motorcycle is seeing and enjoying all that's in-between the sightseeing. With the mountainous landscape of Ethiopia, the in-between stuff is actually more awe-inspiring to me than the historical monuments, at times. It was the rainy season, so I couldn't fully enjoy all the curves and endless twisties but that only gives me another reason to come back and enjoy the riding paradise that Ethiopia is.
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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:27 AM   #1307
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You Rock!
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Old 05-19-2012, 08:28 AM   #1308
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Originally Posted by Jammin View Post
Hey Mr. Bob, yup, lots of history coming up in the next few installments

I remember discussing with other travelers that Ethiopia's food and water woes are mainly a domestic distribution issue but the government loves to play up the image of poor and starving Ethiopians so that they can siphon-off funds donated by the international aid community. A sad reality.


I've got a fancy CyclePump from Best Rest as a sponsored product
Keep the African history coming. When people share their ride reports it inspires me to look more deeply into the parts of the world they visit and Africa seems like a place that's generally misunderstood.
Isn't it usually the case that there are enough resources for all but greed and corruption and ignorance causes disparities.
I'll take a look at the compressor. Thanks for info.
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Old 05-22-2012, 08:47 AM   #1309
Jammin OP
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You Rock!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBob View Post
Keep the African history coming. When people share their ride reports it inspires me to look more deeply into the parts of the world they visit and Africa seems like a place that's generally misunderstood.
Isn't it usually the case that there are enough resources for all but greed and corruption and ignorance causes disparities.
I'll take a look at the compressor. Thanks for info.
Yup, I definitely feel that the real image of Africa isn't being shown to the world and hopefully I can shed some light there.
Oh yes, definitely, this planet can easily support our human civilization, just not at the consumption levels that are going on at the moment Cheers
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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos
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Old 05-22-2012, 08:53 AM   #1310
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Cool2

Trip Maintenance: Brakes

I installed new Galfer Wave rotors on sanDRina with new organic brake pads this past weekend. Thanks to Galfer USA for supplying my DR650 with new braking power! Looks a bit too shiny on my dirty girl; where's the nearest mud puddle?


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J A Y on a 98 Suzuki DR650SE (sanDRina)

Trip Website: JamminGlobal.com
Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

Jammin screwed with this post 05-25-2012 at 07:11 AM
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Old 05-22-2012, 08:38 PM   #1311
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Hey Jay!
More amazing history and photos! I've really got to ride Africa! I still remember the vibe from Ethiopia from my two trips there. Someday I'd love to explore on a bike.

I know the DR community would love to hear feedback on the Galfer Rotor and pads. My rotor is now very thin ... so I'm up for another.

PS: Somehow I stumbled upon your older Alaska report. I know you've mentioned this over the years ... but I'd never read the report. Excellent stuff. Looks like you learned a lot about the DR way back then. What do you think was the main cause for the motor problems? Running the FMF Open? or something else. I did not read the whole report, just skimmed some of it. Whatever happened to that yellow DR?
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Old 05-25-2012, 07:39 AM   #1312
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Ethiopia, Part 7: Lalibela and its Rock-Hewn Churches
July 15 - 17, 2011

I made my pilgrimage through the mud of Ethiopia and arrived in the small town of Lalibela, perched on top of a plateau and housing several rock-hewn churches. Built in the 12th century CE, these churches are a marvel, being carved out of solid rock. The story goes that King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela either had a heavenly vision to build the churches or was inspired after spending time in Jerusalem and wanted to recreate that holiest of cities for Christians.

I spent two days there and met up again with Mitch to explore the churches and soak in this architectural marvel of Ethiopia.



____________________



I stayed at Helen Hotel for 100 Birr ($5.90) a night and woke up to the sound of construction as a new wing was being built.


The sun was out and I had to dry all my gear from riding in the rain all through the previous day.


Having breakfast of fir-fir, which is chopped up injera with berbere spice, served on injera.


I met up again with Mitch, who was traveling around the Historical Circuit of northern Ethiopia at the same time as me and this was the third city that we regrouped in, after meeting in Gondar and Axum. As we walked up the steep slopes of Lalibela to where the churches were, we came across this group of donkeys, taking back food aid from USAID.


It was interesting to realize the journey that this bag of surplus, subsidized, American wheat has traveled to finally end up on a donkey in Lalibela, being taken to the home of these Ethiopians.


A game of table tennis on the streets of Lalibela.


The grande facade of Lalibela's biggest church, Bet Medhane Alem...


...the largest monolithic church in the world. These churches have been cut straight into this red volcanic rock.


Pillars of stone of Bet Medhane Alem, towering 11.5 m (38 ft) and surrounding this church of rock.


The serene interior of Bet Medhane Alem, all carved from one solid piece of rock. It is understood that the builders would have started at the roof and worked their way down to the floor, so that rocks wouldn't be falling on their heads.


The tunnel connecting Bet Medhane Alem to the next church in this group...


...Bet Maryam, considered to be the first rock-hewn church to be built at Lalibela. The steel scaffolding and roof are recent additions by UNESCO to protect some of the churches from water damage. This church highlights what makes the rock-hewn structures of Lalibela so remarkable, in that they are not simply carved into rock, but almost completely freed from it.


Three windows on the eastern wall of Bet Maryam, said to represent the crucifixion of Jesus and the two sinners. Interesting to see that left-facing swastikas have been used to represent the sinners. The swastika, a symmetric cross with bent ends, is an old symbol that has been used by many civilizations and is a prominent symbol in Hinduism. The image of the swastika has been tarnished in the West after Hitler decided to use a right-facing, half-rotated version to represent Nazism.


The deep facade of Bet Gabriel-Rufael ('Bet' meaning 'house of'). Besides the marvel of being rock-hewn, the churches at Lalibela are impressive due to their association with water. Note the small well at the bottom of the trench. The area is very hilly and far away from a river source, but there are water tanks next to each church that fill up naturally from artesian aquifers and rain water. This hydrological system is said to have been designed by a certain Abba Libanos.


Walking through tunnels in the rock around Bet Gabriel-Rufael and marveling at the work done by Ethiopian artisans in the 12th century. The legend says that all the churches were built during the decades-long reign of King Lalibela. Modern construction engineers doubt the time frame and say it must have taken over a century, at least, but believers invoke divine intervention and say that angels came down to help with the rapid construction.


The walkway across the moat at Bet Gabriel-Rufael. The straight sheer face cut in the rock is very impressive.


Another hole in the wall in the rock at Lalibela, leading to another church.


Separate from the other group of churches is the masterpiece of Lalibela, Bete Giyorgis (the Church of St. George). It is a 15 m (50 ft) deep structure in the shape of a Greek cross.


Enjoying the view of Bete Giyorgis and marveling at how it was constructed, about 700 years ago on this hillside in Ethiopia.


The Church of St. George, liberated from solid rock.


The interior of Bete Giyorgis, with its simple structure of a symmetric cross.


A priest inside Bete Giyorgis, which has been continually staffed since its opening. Lalibela is still an important religious site for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.


Levitating (sort of) in the corner of the cross of Bete Giyorgis.


Mitch, feeling the energy from Bete Giyorgis.


The impressive church of Bete Giyorgis in its rock trench. The legend goes that just as King Lalibela was finishing up all the other churches, he was paid a visit by Ethiopia's patron saint, George, who was quite upset that not a single church was dedicated to him. King Lalibela was very apologetic and promised to build St. George the most beautiful of churches in his honor, resulting in this masterpiece of architecture.


The remains of a mummified corpse in one of the many holes in Bete Giyorgis' pit.


At St. George's church, Mitch and I met Nicola and invited her to join us for dinner at the Seven Olives restaurant. Good chats. Nicola is a medical student from Halifax, Canada and was on her last long vacation for the next few years as she was about to enter residency. Crazy girl, she was traveling through northern Somalia and Djibouti, crossing unmarked borders and taking it all in stride. She also enjoys spending time living with tribes and had a great experience with the Hamer people in Namibia and was looking forward to spending time with the Mursi people in southern Ethiopia.


We went out to Askalech Tej House, a traditional tavern where they serve Tej, a honey wine (mead) that's the popular drink of choice in Ethiopia. It's served in these glass flasks, a berele, and is really quite sweet, which masks its alcohol content. There are different strengths of alcohol and we got the strongest on offer, a 6%. These tej houses also feature traditional music and the entertainers encouraged the guests to dance with them by getting low and rolling the shoulders to the beat.


The next morning, I headed out of Lalibela and with the bright sunshine, I could see the mountains that I has descended from in the rain. Lalibela is at 2,400 m (7,875 ft) and those mountains top up around 3,500 m (11,480 ft).


As I got closer and started to climb my way back up, I could sense how steep these mountains were and these cathedrals of stone were just as impressive to me as those in Lalibela that man had put his mark on and given significance to.


I took a different route back up the mountain from the one I had taken down to Lalibela and now I saw why the villager had warned me against this route; it was covered in soft mud that was deep and thick enough to mire trucks. This was the shorter route and I hoped the sun would dry out the mud, but nope.


sanDRina and I struggling through the thick mud as we climbed past 3,210 m (10,531 ft). The end of this tough stretch was in sight; less than a kilometer to go, but we were taking frequent breaks as sanDRina's air-cooled engine was heating up in the slow-going first gear uphill crawl. In tough moments like this, I always say, "at least it's not raining." And if it's raining, then I'm thankful just to be alive...


A look back at the thick mud that we had just crawled through. I'm glad I didn't go down this way in the rain.


I love riding off-road but after struggling through all that mud, I was relieved to be on pavement again. From here, I was heading south to the capital, Addis Ababa.


I stopped for the night in the small highway town of Komblocoha and got a basic room at Sunrise Pension for 35 Birr ($2). That satellite dish is just for decoration.


Taking a walk through Komblocoha and coming across this horse buggy. These guys were moving along a good clip through town.


Enjoying an Ethiopian Macchiato for 3 Birr ($0.18), one of the delights left behind from the brief Italian occupation. It's different from a caff macchiato, where the espresso is marked with a little milk, because here it's steamed milk that's marked with an espresso. I'm not a big coffee drinker but the taste of these macchiatoes were heavenly. I later learned the secret to their slightly caramelized flavor when a waitress told me that they add a bit of Ethiopian peanut butter (which is less sweet than western peanut butter) to the espresso. Mmm, I love food fusion.


On the last leg into Addis Ababa, nearly a month after entering Ethiopia.


Not an encouraging sight for users of public transportation in Ethiopia. These mini buses are the main form of public transport and their drivers are really quite mad, overtaking big trucks around blind corners and driving way too fast on all these brand new curvy roads. Many people say traveling by motorcycle is dangerous because even if I'm a careful rider, other dangerous drivers could cause me to crash. But I'd rather be in control of my own machine, slowing down and stopping when I feel it unsafe rather than take public transport where the drivers don't prioritize your safety.


Taking one last break before heading into Addis and noting this butterfly that got caught in my wheel.

Lalibela is the biggest tourist site in Ethiopia and it's definitely worth a visit. I had good timing as I could be there with only a few other people around, which gave me the space and time to absorb the grandeur of those monolithic churches. It was amazing to be there in person and marvel at how the designers had to visualize the whole church in their heads and devise their plan for carving it out and not being allowed even a single mistake. Lalibela is a fine example of the impressive capacity of human beings to execute on an idea once we decide we're going to do it. Even if it seems impossible to the cynics, the rational optimists see the way forward and make it a reality.
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Trip Website: JamminGlobal.com
Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos
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Old 05-25-2012, 08:35 AM   #1313
Jammin OP
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Location: New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
Hey Jay!
More amazing history and photos! I've really got to ride Africa! I still remember the vibe from Ethiopia from my two trips there. Someday I'd love to explore on a bike.

I know the DR community would love to hear feedback on the Galfer Rotor and pads. My rotor is now very thin ... so I'm up for another.

PS: Somehow I stumbled upon your older Alaska report. I know you've mentioned this over the years ... but I'd never read the report. Excellent stuff. Looks like you learned a lot about the DR way back then. What do you think was the main cause for the motor problems? Running the FMF Open? or something else. I did not read the whole report, just skimmed some of it. Whatever happened to that yellow DR?
Hey Grifter, Ethiopia is calling you once again, this time on two-wheels

Gald to provide feedback on the Galfer brakes. I've done about 100 miles so far on the new rotor and pads, being gentle in the bedding-in process and I like the feel, it's very progressive and reassuring. Let's see how long these organic pads last. I'll let you know more after I cross the 500 mile or 1000 mile mark. Im yet to change the rear rotor, cause I started stripping the rotor bolts and need some penetrating fluid and extra help in removing those bolts :/

Alaska... man, that was a strange trip. I think I'll never know exactly what caused the motor problems but definitely something to do with the exhaust pressures not being right for such a long time, under load and I presume some pre-existing engine issues, maybe with the valves. I had done a valve check before the trip and I think I might have done something wrong there. I loved that yellow DR, named auDRey, but sadly our relationship ended when I had a tumble in the gravel at the height of all those engine issues and that was the final straw that broke the engine. I had a lucky break with the Suzuki shop in Fairbanks who talked to my insurance adjuster and got them to total the bike, which was under full coverage. I used those funds to purchase sanDRina
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Old 05-26-2012, 07:30 AM   #1314
MrBob
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I'm curious about the food aid you mentioned. Was it your observation that people in the town were experiencing significant poverty? Did they seem to connect the aid to the USA? Have you seen the aid anywhere else in your travels?
The churches are a stunning engineering accomplishment. We tend to think of long-ago people as somehow less capable than ourselves but here we see that this isn't true. Thanks so much for sharing the photos.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:18 PM   #1315
Adv Grifter
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Originally Posted by MrBob View Post
I'm curious about the food aid you mentioned. Was it your observation that people in the town were experiencing significant poverty? Did they seem to connect the aid to the USA? Have you seen the aid anywhere else in your travels?
The churches are a stunning engineering accomplishment. We tend to think of long-ago people as somehow less capable than ourselves but here we see that this isn't true. Thanks so much for sharing the photos.
I can comment a bit on this, although I haven't been to Ethiopia since the early 90s'. I was there with World Vision, an NGO, and saw quite a bit of the country. (by De Havilland Twin Otter mostly)

WV partner on some projects with UNICEF, The Carter Foundation and coordinate with USAID upon occasion. I worked around all these organizations. I traveled all over the world with World Vision. I was in Ethiopia twice. The local staff there grew frustrated with the corruption regards the distribution of food aid. They ended up using their own trucks to deliver food to out lying areas to keep it from being sold for profit in local markets. (very common) This system worked very well, but had its challenges. Nothing WV did was administered by local govts. and keeping their hands out of the spoils was a major challenge.

Jay's pic shows locals trucking a single bag of something? (some sort of grain?) Although the stable in Ethiopia is Millet, from which Engira is made. The single bag is a good sign. What you see in some places in the world is hundreds of bags of USA labeled food bags being SOLD in markets or out of the back of trucks. These guys buy it from corrupt govt. officials, then drive round selling out of there trucks. VERY COMMON. The people have to PAY to get their FREE foreign aid. Endemic.

The hope is that the kids shown carting that food did not have to pay for it. Most of these USAID bags will say on the bag "NOT FOR SALE" in two or three languages. And will also say something like "A gift from the people of the United States of America". Sometimes the empty bags are re-used ... and this confuses things further. In Bolivia I bought a few empty US labeled bags and sent back artifacts in them! (very strong!)

World Vision had lots of problems in Ethiopia. During the Eritrean revolution their trucks were hijacked, drivers killed. Such is war. Getting the goods into the hands of the people directly is a tough challenge. Keeping the corruption to a minimum is also really tough. NGO's constantly battle govt. officials trying to get a "pinch". (like all of it!) When in Ghana a local World Vision employee was caught selling aid goods and using his WV Land Rover to run his business. This sort of thing is endemic and really hard to make right and still stay on friendly terms ... which is key to being able to get anything done. A tough balance.

Once I found out World Vision were CIA backed I was really put off and suspicious. But it turns out WV is run just like any other NGO and actually do a good job and ... DO THE WORK on the ground. I was happily stunned.

CIA uses World Vision largely as an information gathering element. CIA have thousands of sources. No operations are run through WV, far as I know, but staff managers are de-briefed after every trip. They go places the US govt. cannot. (like Cambodia when the Vietnamese were still in charge, or certain middle eastern countries ... I was along on many such trips)

No cloak and dagger stuff and in the end turns out they were doing some really good work and leaving religion OUT of the deal. I saw it, in person, up close for ten years. I was impressed and proud to contribute. (of course I was well paid ... yet another over paid, scum bag govt. contractor )

I was impressed by how well run WV was, as I met so many evangelical types running Aid "Missions" everywhere we went. All horseshit, bible thumping nut ball, Burn in Hell "Pray To Eat" type programs. WV never pushed any religious agenda and tried to respect local animistic beliefs. (I was involved in many such celebrations)

When I was traveling Africa the real problem place was Sudan. True poverty. I was there once ... overnight! When we arrived we were placed under house arrest and flown OUT the next morning. The political leader we were there to interview had fallen out of favor. Things shift very quickly there!

In 1993, our producer predicted what ended up actually happening ... and is still happening now in Sudan. He was sadly, 100% correct. So the CIA knew it was coming, and did nothing to stop the slaughter. So what else is new?

Sorry for the Hi-Jack Jay ... back to your wonderful report!
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Old 05-26-2012, 08:27 PM   #1316
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WV partner on some projects with UNICEF, The Carter Foundation and coordinate with USAID upon occasion. I worked around all these organizations. I traveled all over the world with World Vision. I was in Ethiopia twice. The local staff there grew frustrated with the corruption regards the distribution of food aid. They ended up using their own trucks to deliver food to out lying areas to keep it from being sold for profit in local markets. (very common) This system worked very well, but had its challenges. Nothing WV did was administered by local govts. and keeping their hands out of the spoils was a major challenge.


I was impressed by how well run WV was, as I met so many evangelical types running Aid "Missions" everywhere we went. All horseshit, bible thumping nut ball, Burn in Hell "Pray To Eat" type programs. WV never pushed any religious agenda and tried to respect local animistic beliefs. (I was involved in many such celebrations)
I read your post several times. It's a fascinating look at your experiences. It seems nearly impossible to get a view of the world not colored by a simple-minded media and I appreciate any on the ground information I can get. It isn't a simple matter of black and white where survival is concerned.
After Katrina I volunteered twice in Mississippi and, though I consider myself a dedicated atheist, it was religious organizations that did far more than any governmental outfit to help people with their immediate needs. There was some of what you mention above (I couldn't take a desperately needed shower in the Protestant compound because I wasn't Protestant) and this is a link to my feeling on that.
http://102449.smugmug.com/Other/Rand...81381727-M.jpg
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:48 PM   #1317
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Originally Posted by MrBob View Post
I read your post several times. It's a fascinating look at your experiences. It seems nearly impossible to get a view of the world not colored by a simple-minded media and I appreciate any on the ground information I can get. It isn't a simple matter of black and white where survival is concerned.
After Katrina I volunteered twice in Mississippi and, though I consider myself a dedicated atheist, it was religious organizations that did far more than any governmental outfit to help people with their immediate needs. There was some of what you mention above (I couldn't take a desperately needed shower in the Protestant compound because I wasn't Protestant) and this is a link to my feeling on that.
http://102449.smugmug.com/Other/Rand...81381727-M.jpg
funny. But as you said, not all religious groups are bad. Catholic Charities do a good job. (from what i've seen) The Mormons and 7th Day Adventists ... not so much!

Anyway ... just a bump for Jay to get this sucker off page 3 !
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:54 AM   #1318
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Picked up a sponsorship from Heidenau Tires! I've been riding on them since Germany and their K60 Scout 50/50 tires have been fantastic on tarmac, sand and mud. Plus, I really like their long-life compound, making it a fantastic tire for adventure riders. sanDRina will be picking up her new shoes once we get to South Africa and they'll get mounted in time for the piste in Namibia and north into the Congo

http://www.reifenwerk-heidenau.de


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Old 05-29-2012, 11:00 AM   #1319
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Heidenau...

Heidenau, So what took you so long?

Jay has probably sold more tires for you through his write-ups than all your corporate advertising and marketing combined.

Welcome aboard.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:29 AM   #1320
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Excellent
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