26-Mar-2004 -- This is the third visit of a three-confluence hunt in Ethiopia. After our visit of 12N 38E we went to the ancient capital Axum – a place with a history of over 2000 years. Its distance from the CP is 35 km. While Guang preferred to visit the historic sites in Axum, I took an early morning bus from Axum to Adwa (sometimes spelled Adua). This trip of 25 km took just half an hour, arriving in Adwa at 6 am. I was happy of the smooth start because I promised Guang to be back in Axum between noon and 2 pm. Right at the bus station in Adwa I was able to get a bus to May K'inet'al, which is located just 6 km past the CP.
But the bus was filled by only 5 passengers and 20 empty seats. These busses tend not to start unless all seats a filled. Thus we waited one hour (with the motor running in order to give the passengers the impression of a shortly-coming start). Finally, the bus started and we went to the town's outskirts. After waiting there for a while it turned back and went to a gas station and then – back to the bus station. This cursing made me impatient, since it had taken already two hours from the limited time I had. I got off the bus (which was still not completely filled) and went the road, hoping to find other transportation. But there wasn't any traffic on that backcountry road. I tried to rent a bicycle – but the ones I got were definitely not suitable for off-town-biking. Finally – I just was about to give up – the bus showed up and I hopped in again.
These 20 km beeline turned out to be 42 km by road or 1.5 hours bus ride through rough roads. Sitting in the back of the bus made me jump to the bus's ceiling. At a distance of 2.05 km I stopped the bus and got off. The area was very hilly and I started hiking up and down some hills. The little footpaths always turned away from the direction to the CP. Thus I ended up crossing stony and steep grades. Finally, the last 300 m seemed very easy. A footpath pointed in the right direction. Only looking at the display of the GPS, my eyes missed the two elderly farmers, who saw my actions with distrust. Right at a distance of 93 m they stopped me. My greeting, smiling, telling my name and country didn't do any better. They didn't like the whole idea of a foreigner doing strange things on their fields. I wanted to go closer to the CP, but their anger was already overcooking. I risked to quickly taking the pics - then I got arrested by them. They took my bag and examined it, going though my maps and stuff. Now I was forced to follow them. Meanwhile, all I wanted was to go back home – too late, they wouldn't let me. I thought: "Should I just run away?" as I am quite a good runner. But the lean Ethiopians are the best runners in the world and carrying a gun is legal in Ethiopia, in particular here in Tigray province near the border to Eritrea, the guns from the last border war are still among the people. Thus I better choose to cooperate fully.
I went with them in the direction they wanted me to go. Two nasty hot kilometres in a direction further away to the road. Suddenly, we passed an Ethiopian, who spoke a little English. He was a hydro engineer who was leading a well-drilling project. He soon figured the situation being critical for me. He took my hand and said: "These farmers don't understand". I told him, that I had lost my way and just wanted to go back to the road. He just said: "Let's go". Ignoring the yelling farmers, we went to his camp where he offered me Injera (the national food). But I wasn't hungry after all – I just wanted to get out of there. He and his two assistants accompanied me to the road. There was still a dispute among the people out there, who I am and what I was intending to do there. Well, with his help we made it back to the road. There I was able to catch a bus back to Axum and got there with only one hour late arrival.
This visit barely fulfils the conditions to be marked as successful – but I had by no means the willing to go back to the point. For other confluence hunters who do not speak Amharic I do recommend to hire a local guide!