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Entry 48 // Getting our booties to Djibouti

Update by: Nick | April 1st 2011

It's hard to get an early start to riding when you are staying at a hotel and have made friends in the area. We wanted to leave by 10, but that didn't happen. Our friend Seid told us he would bring us a tire and patches around 10, so we waited for him. When he got here, he didn't have a tire. We sat in the parking lot for awhile talking to our friends before it was time to follow Said to get the tire. By now it is noon and Luke has to change his tire while I drink a machiato.The tire luke replaced was in horrible condition, but the tire he replaced it with wasn't anything to jump up and down about. I guess it's near impossible to get a new tire in Ethiopia, even with Seid and his connections.Now it's time to find some gas. Seid takes us to a gas station by his house that has gasoline. We fill up and hit the road. For some reason my handlebars are wiggling like crazy. Maybe my nasty is rim is worse than I thought? Nope, just a flat tire. I drive the 100 feet to Seid's house to fix it in the shade. We are having a rough start. it's 1 in the afternoon and I have a flat tire. We need to get out of this city ASAP.Geeze my rim is in rough shape!While I fix my rim, Seid has his mom start making lunch for us. We know the food is going to be awesome, but we really need to go. After I fix my rim we tell Seid we need to head out. It's useless, we end up staying for lunch. I'm glad we did, it was amazing.Now we can finally hit the road. 2:00 is not when we expected to leave, but at least we can put some miles between us and Addis. Hopefully we can make it to Djibouti by tomorrow(monday) and get our Saudi Visas.
We decide to take the road north through the mountains instead of through the desert. Mountains are always more fun to drive in than the desert. The road was amazing with twists and turns everywhere. We got up to an elevation of 3000 meters (9,842 feet) and it got pretty cold. We finally got a chance to use our heated gear for the first time on this trip. I love heated gear.Our GPS shows gas roughly 150 miles away. This is cutting it VERY close, even with optimal driving. We have to lay of the gas and drive conservative, which sucks because these roads make you want to drive fast and hard.
The views along this mountain road are great. The villiages are like none i've ever seen before. They look like midevil villiage made out of staw. All of them have stone walls surrounding them, which I'm not sure why.Sometimes it's like stepping back in time. They plow their feild the old fashion way, with homeade plows made out of wood.The Chinese have a lot of infastructer projects going in Ethiopia. We come to this tunnel they are building and have to wait 20 minutes for them to finish for the day. After all their equipment is out we can drive through. The tunnel is still not finished. They whole inside is full of mud and rocks and needs to be paved. The forman said they will be finished in two months.After the tunnel, we drove down from the tops of the mountains. Nothing is better than cranking through switchbacks on motorcycles.The sun is starting to go down and we still have 100 miles before our gas stop. Our goal is to make it there tonight so we can get to Djibouti tomorrow. It turns dark in no time. Every gas station we see has no gasoline. Since we still have 100 miles to go we want to fill our stomachs. For the first time since we've been in Ethiopia we are disappointed in the food. We ordered some kind of soup and bread, and it tasted like an oatmeal with sweet corn in it. The bread seemed to have pine needles in it. OK they probably weren't pine needles, but every once in awhile you would get a 4 inch peice of wood in your mouth, which looked like a pine needle. Slightly dissapointed with our meal, we get on our bikes and look for a store we can buy a snack. We get lucky and find a lady on the side of the road selling hard boiled eggs. Hard boiled eggs are a great snack so we get 2 each. Now we are full and happy. The next 70 miles in the dark we crank out in no time. We stop at hotel 30 miles from our gas stop. The hotel is cheap so we stay the night.
We wake up fairly easy and ride the 30 miles to gas. We are in luck, the gas station has gasoline. It also looks like we can make it to the boarder without getting gas again, which is awesome since we only have about $3 each left in Ethiopian currency.
The Road after the gas station is less traveled than what we did yesterday. It has quite a few potholes so we can't drive as fast, but it is still a blast.One of my aluminum boxes lost a screw yesterday. Now the locknig handle is ziptied on to racks. A bump in the road caused the box to bounch off the rack. The only thing saving it from smashing on the road was the ziptie.Obviously the ziptie didn't work perfectly so it's time to find a new solution. We don't have any bolts to replace the misssing one, so I have to improvise. I steal a bolt and clip on nut from my plastic fairing. This should hold until we get to Djibouti for a more permanent fix.Soon the road turns to dirt and we have to slow down even more. I stilll think we can make it to Djibouti tonight with no problem.Unfortunately this dirt road got the best of me. One of my boxes opened up during all the bouncing and I noticed it when a sandle hit me in the back. A quick look shows that one of my sandles is missing. I can see it 200 meters down the road. Good, I didn't lose anything.
Time for lunch.The road turns to tarmac again and we continue driving at optimal gas mileage speed. Things are looking grim so we hitch a ride on a truck.Ok we didn't hitch a ride. I just wanted an excuse to show the mandatory carnage shot.By now we are driving through the desert and it's really hot. The last 50 miles to the border go without a problem. Right before the border we see some baboons hanging out in the rocks. I'm not sure what they doing out here, there is nothing around to live on. Not to mention they are some of the ugliest primates I've ever seen.This is the easiest border crossing we've had yet. Ethiopia stamps our passports with no problem or waiting. When we get to the Djibouti side they stamp us in without a problem too. Then we get the dreaded, "do you have paperwork for the bike?". Of course we say no. The border official leaves and goes to talk to someone; when he gets back he hands us our passports and says no problem, we can go. SWEET! Luke I jet out before they change theri minds.
For some reason they were transporting camels across the border. You can't help but to smile when you see a semi full of camels. Camels are so chill.The gas station on the GPS has no gas when we get to it. Now it looks like we have to make it to the major city to get gas. We are not sure if we can make it. I guess we will drive until we run out of gas.
I'm the first to run out. After talking we decide to have luke use what's left in my extra can and bring gas back for me. My extra can only has 1 gallon left in it, I had to use the other gallon to make it to the gas station we thought would have gas. Hopefully luke can make it with what he has left and gallon left in the can.
I stayed on the side of the road and watched a movie on my computer while Luke goes for gas. First I want to make a phone call. I can't find the sat phone anywhere. Then I remember that my box opened up and I almost lost my sandles. Crap! I must have lost the sat phone. My heart sinks as I look everywhere for it. It's nowhere in site.
Luke comes back after being gone 3 hours. He has an interesting story to tell, I'll let him tell it.

I drive to Djibouti watching my fuel light and doing math in my head. I see the city lights in the distance and I think I could probably push my bike into town if ran out now. The first station does not have Benzine (gasoline.) Nor does the second, but 3rd time is the charm. This station has gas. I do not have local currency yet though. Only USD. This station will not take USD. I need to find an AT Machine. A man pulls into the station in a nice truck. He asks what my story is. We get this alot. I take advantage of his English speaking and ask where an AT Machine is. I tell him I need to get money, then gas, then go back to Nick. What he does for the next 1/2 hour blows my mind. He buys me 7 liters of gas on the spot, then I follow him to the AT Machine. I get my cash, and have no idea how much it is. He holds my 40,000 franks in his hands and explains how much USD it is (about $225.) He gives it back and will NOT let me pay him for the 7 liters of gas he bought. He says that is a gift to me. Next he drives me to the Saudi Arabia Embassy so I will know where it is in the morning. After this he asks whatelse he can do to help me. I thank him profusely, and we part ways after a picture and a handshake. This man was the nicest guy in Africa. He told me before I left, that I would do the same if I saw someone else in my position in need. What a positive experience to have. I am overjoyed and start the 60 mile trek back to Nick. Along the way I stop at a shady part of town on the outskirts. I watch my bike and get two cokes for the road. Back next to the bike I set my helmet down and take off my riding jacket. I have a longjohn shirt on and am way too hot. I take off my shirt and stuff it in my Givi case. I take a really long swig of water from my water bladder. Turns out the swig was too long. I set the bladder down and realize my helmet is gone. My riding jacket is gone. step on the otherside of the bike, two straps for my luggage are unclipped. My tent pole bag is ripped. Holy cow, all this happened while I was standing there drinking water. I feel like I am naked with the whole world watching. People start to gather around as no doubt many of them saw this happening. I am nervous. Not for my life, but what I will do next. I feel embarrased and stupid. I am standing there topless just in my riding boots and pants. All of a sudden I am chilly. Now what? I reclip my luggage bags, constantly looking around, checking my pockets. I still have my wallet, my phone, my passport. A guy comes up to me after a minute handing me my helmet. I am not in shock, but there is nothing to say. I just take it from him and put it on. I then do a putting on my jacket motion. He understands and walks around a shack. He comes out with my jacket. I put it on, The pockets are all open. My tow strap that was inside a pocket is now gone. Luckily Nicks GPS wouldn't fit in that pocket as I tried to put it in only 15 minutes ago as I left town. I don't understand why this guy gave my stuff back to me, and I don't stick around to ask questions. I bail. I am happy to be riding back to Nick wearing my helmet and jacket.

I have seen both sides of the spectrium in this city in only 30 minutes. Not to mention the crazy Muslium guy that was quizzing me on all questions religion when I was at the gas station. Clearly trying to lead me to say the right answers.

I have a lot to think about as I drive back to Nick...

GREEN again
When luke arrives he tells me his story. Neither of us are in mode to ride into town and play the look for a hotel game. We decide to camp on the side of the road instead. Nobody bothered me while I was waiting. Hopefully nobody bothers us tonight. If we wake up at reasonable time, we will have plenty of time to make it to the Saudi Arabian embassy in the morning. Hopefully we can get our visa tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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