“Don’t be silly. Go back to sleep! Why the hell would be a Ferrangi be stumbling around our slum at three o clock in the morning?”
All hell broke loose.
Until that point I’d been in the midst of a gruelling but peaceful early hours of the morning walk to Meskel Square where the coaches leave from.
The slums are surprisingly atmospheric at night. Little fires burn at random locations, gentle Amharic snoring emanates from rudimentary shacks. I’m almost tempted to set up camp myself.
A Lada taxi potters past, it’s front passenger door completely missing.
The driver stops and agrees 100 to the Square. I’ve offered him far too much for such a short journey but it’s dark and I don’t want to be taking out wads of Birr from their hiding place.
The ticket office had said be there for 04:30 (10:30 in Ethiopia’s weirdo Julian calendar) I take up position on one of the huge coffee pot monuments and wait…
A fleet of buses appear, they are green with ‘Ethio Bus’ on the side.
My bus will supposedly be green too.
Golden Coaches’s entire fleet roars into the square. They are also a shade of green.
I ask someone in a high vis jacket who points out the pole a driver has just smacked into the ground.
“The sign is in English. You speak English do you not?”
Eventually, Selam Buses’ fleet turns up sparking mayhem.
They operate on (eg) Dire Dawa 1 and Dire Dawa 2. I’m supposedly on the second. Someone points out a bus lurking near the ‘Gondar’ pole.
This is confusing!
The mobs are closing in, my bags and pockets are becoming increasingly risky-when suddenly the entire passenger load decide to walk in a solemn procession around the bus and back again. They return to standing and not boarding for another 45 minutes.
Eventually we trundle off-only to return. An orthodox Priest has been doing the rounds of the passengers, wandering up and down chanting a blessing in return for a few birr.
It seems he has forgotten to get off.