(Day 23) Waldaa Village to Yabello – 22 April 2011
Distance for the day – 312 km Odometer – 8 173 km
Hours on the Bike – 05:06
Donations up to date for Adelaide Hospital – R 77 327.00
We woke this morning with the sounds of nature all around us as the sun was starting to colour in the skies in the east. It has cooled down nicely and we all had a very good night’s rest. Richard wanted an early start to hop along to the nearest village with his bike to try to get a lift to Moyale. There was not a chance that he could continue with the state his motorcycle was in. His bike has now become a Citroën without any suspension and needed some urgent mechanical work done.
By the time we arrived at the village he had gone off already for the ride of his life. He later told us that he would not wish this experience onto his worst enemy and was glad to reach Moyale without injuries. He firstly had to negotiate a rate to get them to load his bike. Knowing that he was in a dilemma they started him on $250 US for the remaining 101 km’s to Moyale. He negotiated to agree on $100. The loading, usage of tie downs and off loading they wanted to charge extra, but he was not going to fall for that and the price stayed at $100.
The ride was a nightmare because of the condition of the roads, the speeds these trucks are going, the dust that gets sucked in at the back and the fact that nothing is packed or secured properly on these trucks. Everything that gets loaded just happens to be packed on top of each other. All the passengers then get on top of the truck to sit in the cool air, out of the dust. Richard was not going to part with his motorbike and decided to try and hold on to it to prevent it hopping around. He said it was hopeless and it was like riding a bull in a rodeo ring. He was having difficulty breathing with all the dust and at some stage put his helmet on to try and minimise this. This made him very hot and he was sweating profusely. He could see nothing and did not know where he was, while the truck was doing all the different side roads to pick up people and goods. At some stage another brand new motorbike was loaded and just made to lie on its side on the bed of the truck. By the time they got to Moyale it had no mirrors or indicator lights left on it. It is just amazing how little value these people put on materialistic stuff and that common sense does not mean anything.
He got to Moyale a few minutes before we arrived and then he had a problem to get his bike off loaded. They wanted more money. He refused and insisted with the driver to honour their agreement. The driver acknowledged and instructed the passengers/crew to give a hand. One of the crew still insisted on more money first, but then all hell broke loose. The driver planted him with one fist shot to the jaw and then it was a free for all. The fight stopped as quickly as it started, when a big guy, with obviously a lot of authority intervened. He literally came to Richard’s rescue and instructed to get the bike off loaded and pushed to a local welding works. He was smooth and spoke good English. This rescue obviously came at a price and Richard had to cough up more money to pay for the service and repairs on the bike. This was all given to the big guy, who in his turn gave something to the welder. A few minor repairs we did ourselves on Richards bike, which was caused by the rough ride and we just wanted to get out of Moyale as soon as possible. When we saw Richard after arriving on our bikes, we all had a good laugh because his grey hair had now changed in to red, from all the sweat and dust.
Customs on the Kenyan side was quick but on the Ethiopian side it took us 4 hours. It was Friday and a public holiday as well, so no luck with any officials in office. We had to again pay money to get them to come out. Before we left the town, we needed to fill up with fuel but none was available at three different stations, or so it seemed. We tried to buy from the Black Market, but with no success. This was starting to become like a horror story, where we were stuck in this town and could not get out.
Another rescuer came to the fore, in the form of a Policeman. He instructed us to follow him and took us to the first filling station that showed us away. They were in fact filling cars and he shouted at the locals to give way and let us through. This felt awkward, but we just did as we where instructed and quickly got the bikes filled and off we went. Why he did this we do not know, but we all saluted him and he waved us off with big smile on his face.
We pushed on towards Awassa and stopped after dark at a very nice cheap, clean Hotel in Yabello. It was exactly what we needed to get the batteries recharged.
One last thing about the people and the area is that they are extremely poor and live a very tough life. They are in the middle of a terrible drought and it breaks your heart to see the carcasses of dead cows along the roadside and to see the ones that would not make another week. “What does the animals eat?” you ask yourself in certain areas. This is hostile country.