But it could have been, given our luck with overland travel.
We left early again. We could have flown, of course. But the bus was cheaper, and as we figured our trip had been up to that point essentially free of any travel difficulties, we ought to try a bit harder. Travel in Ethiopia had been too easy.
At 5:20 am our tuk tuk to pick us up was still missing. The owners of the guesthouse arranged everything ensuring us it was easy. It may have been if that tuk tuk driver showed up on time. Really though, we should have given more time to account for the lackadaisical time scale our driver seemed to adhere to.
As our anxiety increased the owners offered to drive us. We stalled and puttered our way to the market, scanning the road, hopping not to see our bright green bus headed out of town.
5:35, five minutes past when our bus was scheduled to leave we pull up to the market and there’s nothing. The driver gets out and runs down to ask someone where the bus is. We figure, it’s gone. Which would be so problematic if the next days bus wasn’t already booked, and the flights were also likely full. This left us with an extremely expensive charter, or a hellish minibus experience, neither of which sounded appealing. The driver runs back and exclaims, it’s here! And we drive until we see the headlights pulling onto the road. We flip around and pull behind the bus, which pulls over and we get on.
Of course, once on board our seats are occupied. The bus driver finds us seats, together, and we collapse. It’s far too early for this.
It’s not even day light, the whole bus is asleep, except for the guy behind me who is pulling on my seat and talking loudly to the guy across the isle from me. Plus, he smelled terribly. I resisted the urge to push my seat into a recline, sigh dramatically and glare at them. You see, they did something worse than be inconsiderate bus mates. They broke the travel spell. You, know, the one where the traveler remarks delightedly at the friendly nature of the people! Waxes lyrical about the stunning landscape! And how they just absolutely love this country as it drifts by out the window! Smelly loud men took that from me. Bastards. How could they? On a luxury bus no less.
I focus my attention on the bus, and read the prompter up front that still announces, in English, how to program the bus’ digital entertainment system and the helpline clearly no one called when they couldn’t figure out how to program it, or didn’t bother. Probably that. Then, I put in headphones. I listen to Robyn, which is a strange soundtrack to the village dotted landscape outside. A brilliant, angry-red-orange sun finds it’s way into the sky, bathing the earth in that particular warm orange hue that reminds me I’m near the equator. And just like that all is well in the world. Well, that and not breathing through my nose.
Our bus makes it back to Addis, only two hours late, which means we’re early. Given our luck with public transportation, we deem the day a total success. To celebrate our return, we eat at Antica in the expat area. We balk at the $20 bill and head back to our hotel.