Sunday, September 25, 2005

After Edna, we meet Richard Limo

After our successful trip to the Somaliland consul, we passed by the Ethiopian embassy to apply for our visa there. No problems, we pay FDJ 5.400 each, sign a form, leave a photo and it will be ready tomorrow by 10.00 am. We are thinking that we will take the train to Dire Dawa, then go up the mountqins to visit the extremely wonderful Harar before catching a flight back to Hargeisa at the weekend, after the elections and stay there a week before our rendez-vous in Addis Ababa on the 8th.

At the hotel, we come a cross a couple with whom Fred had chatted last nighty, a Kenyan/Briton - Richard - and his German wife, Anna. They had had some very very bad experiences in Ethiopia and had lots of horror stories to tell about the medical facilities, the lack of education there, the theivery, the cheating, the over-charging of foreigners, the hassle - basically the people there! Oh well, at least we will be prepared for the worst and we can limit the damage by minimising the time we spend in Addis, I think.

They are wondering where to go next. We suggest either Somaliland or Yemen, the only problem with Yemen being the way women are treated.

We have a nice relaxing afternoon with them and I take them around the African quarter, a maze of streets and alleyways, of brightly coloured corrugated iron buildings, shops, market stalls selling spices, ironware, shoes, the most brightly coloured clothes, bras, samosas, jasmine necklaces ( as if we were in Thailand) and so on. Richard loved the expereience but said he would not have dared go 'in' there alone;. As we walk around, we stop to chat with the locals and they are both amazed at how friendly the exchanges were. In Ethiopia, everything had to do with money. We will see.

We end up going out for dinner with Richard and he tells us the wonderful story of his life, a story which I have already followed on BBC TV, of how he was plucked from school in his village in Kenya, taken to Nairobi, given his first pair of shoes and put on a plane at the age of 13 to participate in the World Youth Athletics Championships in Santiago de Chile. He won gold at his first attempt and has been winning gold regularly since at most of the big world athletic events, except for the Olympic Games. He now runs for Great Britain and hopes to start training for the indoor championship series in November. He does not smoke, does not drink alcohol and ate half a small vegetarian pizza!

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