Sunday, 29 July 2012

Another Memorable Bus Journey


Our journey to Gondar was another interesting bus journey.  We were the first passengers to be picked up and of course the minibus wasn’t going to be going anywhere without being full. We stopped in the town, in a side street outside a row of small pension type hotels. 

Pension type hostel for local people
 A couple of people approached the bus itself, but after a while, as this strategy wasn’t proving to be too successful, the driver and its money collector decided to take the bull by the horns and go find customers. This meant that we trawled the streets, stopped where there were lots of people and then they ran off, found people, put them on the bus, took their money and ran off again.  Finally, the bus was full and the ‘conductor’ person did the ‘Who’s the Daddy?’ trick with the roll of money and the door and we were off.  Well almost.  We picked up another 4 passengers despite being full, who squeezed in by sitting on a small stool, a large tin and the wheel hub.  Luckily their destinations were villages en-route and so their discomfort was minimal.  As these passengers disembarked others took their places and so we travelled.

Three points about this journey.

Firstly we had a really fierce policewoman stop the bus and give the driver a real rollocking for having too many people on the bus.  We didn’t understand the actual words but the meaning was very clear from her hand gestures, tone of voice and demeanor!  She was telling them to leave the ‘faranji’ (us) in the bus but get rid of the excess passengers.  This went on for about fifteen minutes and in the end they went on without ejecting anyone.

Secondly the toilet break for the ladies was very civilized as led by an Ethiopian lady,  me and my sister went into a nice but empty hotel in one of the small towns and used the bathroom of an unoccupied room that was on the second floor along a corridor.

Thirdly, as with Georgia, stationary buses with passengers inside are sales opportunities, so at every stopping point people rushed towards us trying to sell us stuff.  People bought large bunches of garlic and bags of leaves that when chewed, apparently give you a very pleasant legal experience.  What they didn’t buy on this occasion was an un-plucked chicken with its neck wrung even though the particularly aggressive sales technique involved trying to slide open the window from the outside in case we changed our mind when it was thrown onto our laps.  Luckily they couldn’t open my window.

All in all a very interesting time for 150ETB (£5)

When we reached our destination the driver asked us which hotel we wanted to go to.  We hadn’t worked out that part yet so he rang his mate who jumped on the bus and was ready to help us make up our mind.  He walked us up a hill to a reasonable looking hotel for a reasonable sounding price.



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