Addis Ababa here we come!

April 30, 2013

\Thankfully the roads improved and the roadside dwelling multitudes diminished somewhat. The only spoiler on this rip was a policeman – fat, ugly and dirty – who tried to bully us into GIVING him our two safety reflective vests that we had slung over our seats. he even tried to tell us that our car was all broken (just because we had raised the back of our bonnet to allow for better cooling) but we stuck to our guns and eventually he realised we were not going to relent and he had no option but to let us go.

at yet another road block in a very strange and again filthy town a guy dressed in untidy civvies asked for our car papers and i showed him our carnet which he wanted to see it but i immediately got out of the car and asked him who he was and what authority he represented as i could see this NOBODY just taking our papers and vanishing off into the crowd never to be seen again. so i approached a nearby soldier who was actually laughing at this whole triad and in fact it seemed that this civvy oke was in fact the guy in charge of the whole gaggle of soldiers or police of customs officials or whatever the hell they were and in the final analysis all worked out fine and we were on our way again. Incidentally every now and then you travel through a different area of Ethiopia and these areas are controlled by these checkpoints that restrict one from passing through by a simple rope barrier. but based on the amount of firepower milling around these controls it would certainly be a folly to drive straight through, except for Chuck of course. Chuck Norris that is!

as we entered Addis being guided to a campsite mapped on our Garmin we we shock surprised to note the number plate of the Landrover in front of us showing that it was a New South Wales registered vehicle. I told Geoff to step on all of our tiny ponies and try to get alongside of them which he managed after about ten minutes in the horrible and heavy traffic that we were in and a quick chat through the windows and again we were traffic separated. a few minutes later to the consternation and noisy hooter blowing anger motorists behind us the Landie slowed and handed us a piece of paper with the coordinates of the place where they were staying. it took no time for us to redirect ourselves to the new spot and through the rain and terribly congested traffic we slowly crawled our way to Baro Pension where we then properly met with the Aussi Landie couple, Oliver and Lisa.

in fact interestingly a number of days earlier as i had been standing on the Moyale muddy road inspecting whether it would be ok for us to venture forth in out Imp this self same Landie came whizzing past and we shared big happy waves to each other never expecting ever to meet up again. another miracle on our travels had just unfolded in the thick traffic of Addis Ababa.

Having travelled through yet MORE rain in a country that i thought gets hardly ANY rain and with the prospect of more torrential downpours we had reservations about setting up camp at Baro and since we would be camping on the hard flagstones of the guest house parking we opted to spend the extra 10 dollars and take a room in the house.

Geoff wasted no time in showering off the dust of the tiring road trip and DRESSED SMART with his only short pants and tee shirt that wasn’t creased to go off and jump on the net with the free WiFi, Of course this together with copious cups of excellent Ethiopian coffee. we found accommodation and food prices here very bearable indeed and i even managed to put away a few good square meals to compensate for the forced starvation diet that we had endured on the road before Ethiopia.


our mission in Addis was to have our wheels balanced as the left rear had already buckled and since we had only set our wheel alignment by eye it was definitely still not correct. the other big job was to repair our roof rack. so we had grandiose visions of getting to a tyre fitment centre with spotlessly clean four poster lifts and while the car was up we could also cleanout all the mud and gravel that was still in the various nooks and crannies of our little chariot. well the surprise was not a pleasant one! not only did we battle to find this tyre fitment HEAVEN but in fact the only tyre place that could assist with our balancing and alignment was in a grid of the city that had no electricity nor was like to have electricity for days to come! So looking down the barrel we decided to try to find a place where we could have our legless roof rack welded so we could move kit back to the roof and be able to see out our windows again! it does help in the traffic of course. especially when you are driving around a strange city and driving on the WRONG side of the road at the same time!!!

the only problem with finding a welder in Addis of course is the fact that without electricity no welding will be possible. no worries, a very helpful Ethiopian invited us to follow him to a guy that could possibly help us. in no time he pulled up at a terribly unkempt street side garage that had an old early 60’s Beetle sitting in the corner full of dirt and grime, in another corner was a spot where electric motor winding was carried out, on the man floor was a half worked on Mazda and the sidewalk section had two combies being flatted down in preparation for spray painting. and everywhere you walked throughout this tiny totally disorganised workshop you were a few inches deep in mud as a result of the huge rains on the previous night.

notwithstanding the conditions and the lack of electricity, the owner listened to our requirements took a few minutes to assess what could and needed to be done and then went about gathering his accoutrements and got to work. within an hour this artisan had gone and braised our four legs back onto our roof rack and made it so damn strong that the rack will now probably outlive the actual car!



  1. Hi I have been following wonderful and adventures trip and blog daily. Thanks for keeping us informed with you updates.
    I was reading the Scottish, Paisley Daily Express and came accross the following article.

    Regards Harry Hall. Johannesburg SA

    Hillman Imp is back in the spotlight as car enthusiasts celebrate its 50th birthday

    Apr 29 2013 by Chris Taylor, Paisley Daily Express

    Thousands of workers who helped to build the iconic Hillman Imp are being invited to attend a special bash to mark its 50th birthday.
    A celebration of the much-loved motor and the impact its creation had on the Linwood area is being staged on Thursday, with organisers hoping the event will be a chance to help bring old friends together.
    The Rootes car plant, which was home to the Imp, employed over 6,000 workers.
    And John Workman, who is organising the 50th birthday celebrations, believes the party can be a way for former staff members to reconnect.
    He told the Paisley Daily Express: “The Rootes plant and the creation of the Imp is an important part of the area’s history.
    “Nearly every family in Linwood would have had somebody who was involved in building the Imp.
    “It would be absolutely fantastic to have some of the workers come along on Thursday to share their stories.
    “It might even be a chance for some old friends to meet for the first time in decades.”
    May 2 marks 50 years since the Imp’s 1963 launch and the celebrations will be taking place at the St James’ Business Centre – the last remaining part of the once-sprawling plant.
    Workers from across the factory are being encouraged to attend the milestone celebrations.
    Mr Workman added: “For a long time, the Rootes plant was the area’s biggest employer and there are so many great stories that have come from the place.
    “It was a really tight-knit community, where the people worked together, socialised together and some even met their husband or wife-to-be there.”
    One former Rootes girl who will be joining the festivities is Anne Slattery.
    It is half a century since the grandmother-of-four started work at the famous factory but she can still hear the chatter of friends and the buzz of machinery.
    Anne, 71, was responsible for fitting controls into the car’s dashboard and was one of the first women to work there.
    She said: “There were so many people working in the factory. You made pals that you stuck with for the rest of your life.
    “I even met my husband Anderson there in 1963. We were working down on the shop floor and he must have taken a fancy to me.
    “There were only a few girls in the factory at that time, so we got a lot of attention.”
    Anne and Anderson will join politicians and Imp enthusiasts at Thursday’s birthday bash.
    The centre-piece of the celebrations will be a parade involving a 50-strong convoy of vintage Imps, which will then set off on a 320-mile journey from the Linwood site to the former Rootes headquarters in Ryton-on-Dunsmore.

    • looking forward to compiling a more full and formal record of the effort when I return. perhaps with your background you might be able to offer some assistance/advice? get me on +27836017511 when I get back monthend.

  2. Love it, love it, love it!
    Well done guys. I’m chock a block with admiration.
    Keep going!!!

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