Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back to Bora, Ethiopia Trip -- Day 5

A fairly good night of sleep in the barn, and once again I was the first person out of bed.

In an effort to combat "Mountipoopiphobia" I gathered my gear, and decided to visit the false banana grove before anyone else was up.  That meant I needed to open the gate to the compound, and when I did, I found a dog standing directly outside of the door.

It was the same dog that had been summoned to clean-up yesterday's spaghetti spill.  The dog looked happy, and so I patted it's head and scratched it behind the ears a bit.  I did, however, shut the gate behind me, figuring no one would be excited to wake up to a wet dog-nose exploring their face.

Upon returning, the dog was still hanging around the entrance to the compound.  Being a bit slow on the uptake, I opened the door, and before I could get inside and close it again, the dog slipped inside.  The animal started sniffing around the sheep blood and found a few pieces of meat dropped during the night.  Duh, I kinda forgot we butchered a sheep in here just a few hours ago.

I decided to get the interloper out, and gave the dog a shove, which produced a growl.  A stronger shove caused a growl and a snap.  It was then I decided that maybe an expert was needed.

The dog then found a bone, and crunched it loudly.  That brought one of the Chief's grandchildren out of the main hut.  The boy picked up a stick and tossed it at the dog, and that sent the animal scurrying out of the compound.

Oh, that's how you do it.

Later, when others got up, several mentioned that there had been dogs growling and fighting all night long over the sheep remains that had been tossed behind the compound.  I'd been so tired that I hadn't heard a thing.
Preparing to Depart from the Chief's Compound
We gathered our things, and after a heartfelt and touching goodbye, we set out on our way back to Chencha.  After three days at altitude, and a chance to adjust to walking the steep trails, the hike was much easier.  Of course, dropping 2,000 feet in altitude probably helped, too.

There was a spot on the way down that was a bit edgy.  We passed a school along the route (middle school age), and since class hadn't started, there were scores of kids milling around.  They pressed in as we passed, asking for candy or just generally curious.  This was not a problem in itself, but when one of the women I was walking with had a zipper pulled on her backpack, that crossed the line.  One of our African guides quickly broke things up, and no harm was done.
Scenery on the Hike back to Chencha
Our whole group made it back to Chencha in a couple of hours, and then we stopped in the Central Cafe for coffees, Cokes and pastries.  I had both sets of my shoes cleaned by one of the shoe shiners, whom I ridiculously overpaid, I'm sure.  It was nice having clean footwear.
Lunch at the Chencha Central Cafe
We rode in the vans back to Arba Minch and went out on Lake Chamo to see Hippos and Crocs.  But we almost didn't make it.  The road back to the boat launch was really wet, and eventually, we asked the driver to stop and we all piled out, walking down a parallel trail while the driver tried the road without passengers.  We made the right call this time, as the van became stuck.  We managed to make it to the launch only a few minutes late.  I was relieved I didn't have to take a turn carrying the 5 gallon gas can, however.

The featured animals were a bit scant on this boat ride -- the water was very high, and the place where the crocs normally sunned was mostly under water.  We saw about half a dozen.  The hippos were even more scarce -- I counted 3, and we never got close to them.  But the fisher eagles were all over.  I bet I saw at least a dozen, including some diving for fish.  Beautiful.
A medium-sized croc

Fisher Eagle swooping in to snag a meal
After the ride, we walked back out to the start of the mud pit.  Our driver had managed to get the van and cleaned it up while we were on the lake.  We then piled in and rode back up the mountain, stopping a few kilometers short of Checha in the cultural village of Dhorze.  When we arrived the electricity was out, which caused dinner to be a bit late -- but by now we all realized things in Africa don't happen on a schedule just because we want them to.

As we ate a late dinner (and had a few beers) our host for the evening, Mekonnen, arrived.  Mekonnen is a Rastafarian, complete with dreads and a laid-back style.  He's also an excellent and fun host, and made sure we had a great time that evening.  Activities ranged from learning to drink from a pitcher two at a time (harder than it sounds), to cultural dances, to fire jumping.  I think I had half a pitcher of Tej, the local homebrewed equivalent of mead, by myself.
Dancing around the fire in Dhorze

Fire jumping in Dhorze
While the dancing was going on around the fire, I left for a quick bathroom break.  When I popped into my room and saw the bed, I immediately knew I was finished for the day.  For the first time in three nights, I would be sleeping off the ground.

I laid down and was out in seconds.

All photos taken by Curt Good.

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