East African Rift Valley – Ethiopia’s Grand Canyon on Steroids

25-26-27 January 2018

I leave the north. Flying above Ethiopia, my perspective is of zigging zagging canyons with a sliver of river at the bottom; huge buttes with small villages on top; ridges; endless brown; rocky, volcanic topography – what looks to be an incredibly inhospitable landscape. I see few tilled fields that seem ample enough to feed the population. Wars were fought on this land and woe to the ignorant of its ups and downs, steep escarpments and narrow valleys, and what looks to be a single ribbon of road into the distance. Italian invaders learned the hard way, taking days and back-breaking labor to move their trucks and tanks but a few miles. From up here, I can see why.

Flying back to Addis, I will escape the “on the ground” experience of Ethiopia’s roads. I am not sad about this. At times, our travel between cities averaged as little as 35 mph and that is on a “good road.” Two-lane roads always have room for more be it trucks, busses, pack animals, tuk tuks, horse and donkey carts, or walkers. Bumpy roads and horn honking are the norm. Bathrooms? Not yet.