Once we got through the chaos and masses of people at the border, we thought that we’d be able to continue on much as we had in Sudan.
Not a chance.
The border between Sudan and Ethiopia is one of those ‘instant change’ borders where it seems the laws of physics change right at that invisible line. The Arabic script and language is replaced by Ge’ez and Amharic, the calendar goes from Gregorian to Ethiopian Coptic, the religion goes from primarily Sunni Muslim to Ethiopian Orthodox, the time goes from the 24 hour clock to a 12 hour one (1 is at 7am and then again at 7pm, except they don’t use am or pm), and having a beer is no longer a jailable offence. Everything changes in an instant, but after being on the road for a while they’re easy changes- big changes (beer), but “Nice to know, but how does this really affect me?” kind of things (beer). It took a while, but we learned that it wasn’t going to be any of these prosaic, functional, changes (beer) that would most affect us. No, it would be something completely different, something coming from my first sentence…
People, masses of people. We’d stopped for a quick p.p. (photo/piss) break in the middle of nowhere, and while I climbed up a hill for a better view, the hills came alive with people. Inside of 5 minutes over 30 people, mostly kids, where at the bikes. It was crazy, but it was to prove normal.
We weren’t in Sudan anymore and we needed to do a complete reset.