Saturday, 3 April 2010

An Ethiopian fable.............

26th March

Kumara the Maternity Worldwide driver who drove us to Addis told us an Ethiopian fable- A donkey, a goat and a dog decided to take a journey on a bus- the donkey solidly paid his fare, the goat avoided the conductor and didn't pay and the dog paid his fare but the conductor forgot to give him his change. This is the why donkey feels that he now owns the road and moves only slowly and reluctantly for anyone, goat on the other hand is mindful that he still owes someone his fare and so runs at the sight of any vehicle lest he be asked to pay, this just leaves poor old dog chasing every van that goes past in an attempt to get his change! The fable doesn't seem to include sheep or cow but they tend to behave like goat and donkey respectively. Nor does the fable mention small boys who also love to practice their sprinting skills and run along side the vans for as long as possible (which is often quite a long time and must partly explain why the Ethiopians are such formidable contestants in International athletics these days).

The fable was told to as we were setting off on the journey from Gimbi to Addis, which is the fourth and final time I had to make this trip- as least for the foreseeable future. This trip was better than previous as Kume made good time (he is known for his love of multiple coffee stops but this journey we kept to two) and so with a 6am (well 6.15am after a bit of faffiing about and a few goodbyes) we arrived in Addis at 3pm- in time for to start luxuriating in the comforts available in the Sheraton including a swim and a gin & tonic (complete with ice & lemon i.e. with no missing ingredient which was a first since my last trip to Addis).  I am not sorry to have finished this last journey safely as the road trips to and from Gimbi were the only part of my adventure that ever felt dangerous. Thankfully if/when I return to Gimbi the road will be improved as the Chinese road building project is under way to finish the middle section that is currently so worn that it is much worse than travel on a mud or rubble road where the surface is at least predictably poor unlike the current irregular pot-holes- that just leaves a requirement for an improvement in driving standards (in particular the blind faith that nothing will coming the other way when overtaking will only yield appropriate returns if the roads stay quiet) and someone to control the cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, dogs and apparently suicidal pedestrians (so frankly I am not holding my breath that the journey will be anything other than safer by virtue of the fact that it is quicker, so you are in harms way for a shorter time).

My time in Gimbi has been rewarding on so many levels that I don't discount the possibility of returning at some point in the future and this fact made it easier to say goodbye when the inevitable refrain from people was "when will you be coming back?" allowing me to say with honesty that I hope I will come back one day although omitting to add that the realities of my work in the UK are that this is unlikely to be for a number of years.

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