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North of the Equator (and a Mada warp-up)

June 2nd, 2005

Hi all,

After flirting a long time with the equator line in Uganda and Kenya I’m finaly north and should stay there for a while. I left Nairobi yesterday and will continue north to Ethiopia on the North Horr corridor. Strangly I felt quite happy to be in Nairobi, maybe because I knew the city and didn’t felt lost. I was a bit sad to leave Mada of course, but still happy to be back on the continent.

So first off, if you have any good tips about Ethiopia (Ralph, Juan?) I’d be more than happy to hear them.

But let’s come back in time a bit, I just came back from Madagascar witch was an amazing country! I really highly recommend it to everyone. What I’ve seen and experience there was wonderfull. Of course the lemurs are nice (here you can see picture :
http://community.webshots.com/photo/124255392/91699800eqeeNl), but it’s not what Masa is all about! There’s 2 things I dind’t like there: Anakao, a city that as been destroyed by tourism and where the locals always ask you for “gift” and use the beach as a toilet. It was describe in the LP guide as one of the most beautifull beach on Mada, I think it’s the worst. The other thing that shocking there is the amount of sexual tourism! It’s the Thailand of French people!

But let’s talk more about what’s nice there. The people are great, espacialy outside the big cities and have an incredible amount of belief and legend. For example in the north they nailed the dead in the forhead because if they don’t the dead comes back to life times. Every 3 day the dead person comes back to life for 1 day, then die again. After the third times the body starts to decomposed and smell! They also have a seremony call “The Turning of The Bones” after 1 year (or 7 in some tribe) the body is exhumed, washed and bring back to the house for 3 to 7 days (depending how rich the family is) where all friends and familly is invited for a huge celebration where they drink and dance. After the festivities, the body is bury again in a definitive tomb.
There’s also so reincarnation that are going one mainly in the north. Some people are posses by the spirit of a dead sailor that got is foot stuck in a huge shell in the sea. He had a bottle of rhum with him, so the people that are posses are lumping, drunk and speak perfect french even if they didn’t before.
There’s a tribunal river, if you have a fight with your famaly and it’s your fault and you go to that part of the river your boat will flip and you’ll die! They also have a tribunal plant, in a process if you lie you’ll have to drink a tea made of that toxic plant. If you die, you were lying, if you survive (but nobody does) you were saying the truth. Sounds a bit like the witches process in Europe…

There’s a lot more things than those, but I think those are the most interesting ones.
The system of transport is also very interesting, on the major lines it is forbiden to have a Taxi-Brousse (Matatu in east africa) older than 10 years. You could expect that it makes the journey shorter, but it is very common to go at 50km/h even on quite good road. On the west part of the island I took a merchandises truck that brought me 360km, it took a bit less than 22 hours. At the beginning I was in the back on bags of riz and peanuts. I was amazed at how the local (and that’s true for most of Africa) are used to the pain and inconfort in the transport. Some were resting on metal bars and looks perfectly happy about that! When the sun set the driver took me in front, that was supposed to be an upgrade, but with the motor that was over heating it was not really better than in the back. The water pipe broke and we had to fix it with a trip. The guys had to fetch water very often quite far from the road because of the leaking. I spent the rest of the night in the truck (in Ambahakily) and headed for Morombe (you can look the map on my web site) in the morning. 40 km, 2:30 hours. I tought I was on the moon becaus of the size of the whole in the road. From Morombe to Belo (340km) I took a sailing pirogue, 17 hours of pure joy without food even if I had agree with the captain that food was included in the price. For 2 hours 10:00 to noon there was no wind at all, but loads of sun. I finaly reach Morondava and stay there a few days where, beside the sexual tourists, I met great people. I went to a local show at the stadium, let’s just say that the dancers (2 girls) were pretty sexy and changed uniform between every songs.
The only thing I regret about Mada is that I didn’t stay long enough, 6 weeks is not enough to visit that extremely huge and interesting country.

In the plane back to Nairobi a girl came to sit just beside me (she was on another seat but my row was empty) she asked me if I knew a place to sleep in Nairobi and if she could come with me. Of course you can. Them we start talking to each other. Oh oh, there is something wrong in the head of that girl! Everybody even the manager of the lodge told me she’s crazy! I know, even tho I used the word “special” to describe her. She wanted to follow me on my journey to Ethiopia, but I left without her. She was scary!

In Nairbi I seen for the first time “Instant Justice”. I’ve heard of it a lot but seeing it live is quite a shock! For those who don’t know it’s when someone steal another person and get caught by the crowd before the police get there. The croud beat the hell out of the thief. In my case, I was eating in the Pizza Inn in front of the Hilton (a bit of Western food before the long journey to Egypt). I saw lot’s of ppl standing up and looking down the window. I did the same, there was at least 40 persons around a guy who was laying on the ground and 5 of them were kicking, punching and stabbing him! You want to do something but I guessed that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go in between! When I went out, the guy was still laying there with a big crowd around him but the beating had stop. I asked the watchman of the food court what happend. The street kid (around 20years) ask the driver of a car for money. As the driver didn’t want to give him any he starts bashing on the car whit a big rock. The driver went out and… we know the rest. But he had : This kind of guy (street kids) are dangerous, they can even attack you with a knife. I could feel that he was totaly agreeing with the beating.
When I told that story to another Kenyan on the street in answer me “He probably stole something” without any surprise or compation for the poor guy.
Yesterday on the news, same thing. I woman that time got beaten and burned by a crowd! As the news was in Swahili I didn’t understand why she was beaten.

So after more then 14 days in Nairobi I didn’t get mugged or rob. Even walking alone around 21:00 in the city center didn’t got me in trouble. Ok, I was with a local. But that’s just to say that if you take precaution Nairobi is not as dangerous as you can hear. Of course few peoples try to scammed me saying they need money to buy stuff for “my hotel” that they couldn’t named. I think if you’re stupid enough to give money to someone on the street you deserved to loose it!

Now my passport is almost full, I’ll probably have to get a new one in Ethiopia (3 weeks) and than get the Sudanese Visa (4 weeks) so I hope there’s a lot to see and do in Ethiopia because I might have to stay there for a while.

Peace out, talk to you from Ethiopia.



Pense du mois : Don’t forget to duck tape your hamster before use.

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