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Good thing they came back, because they forgot to pay their hotel bill and stored all of their luggage in my room. I took the slow and cheap way around the North, as the locals do. Riding the bus is a great way to meet people and participate in local culture.
Even so, with no buses driving at night I was stuck with a two-day journal from Gonder to Lalibela. My bus was carrying two Polish tourists, one of whom was pick pocketed in the Gonder bus station while getting on the bus. They were nice guys and welcome company for my forced stop in the middle of Northern Ethiopia. Eating beside men in Ethiopia is amusing since most women in bars are prostitutes—I witnessed their propositions throughout my time in Ethiopia.
They were never very nice to me since I guess I got in their way. The local residents must not see many tourists and followed me around town in a large group, posing with animals, homemade toys and with their friends. Portraits are my favorite form of photography, so this unwelcomed stop turned into a great opportunity to meet photogenic people. View more photos of the friendly residents of Nefas Mewcha in the gallery. Due to our extra day in Turmi driving around dirt tracks for five hours in search of a bull jumpers we had to make up time.
We quickly made our way back East toward the main road at the town of Yabello—a nine hour journey. Along the way we did spare some time to stop at a village named Machekie, where we saw interesting houses and swarms of children. One of my travelmates had grown bored with the landscape a few days prior and spent our long car rides watching The Colbert Report on his iPod it would still be a few months until the iPhone launched.
As we drove through the dusty terrain the silence would suddenly be pierced by a sharp laugh completely out of context. The pool room with a painting of dogs playing pool and shiny UN SUV were shocking contrasts to our three nights in Turmi.