Ethiopia map:
Bugs, bugs, and Addis Ababa
Feb 18, 2005

On my final day in Arba Minch, I moved down to the lower town so I could catch a bus first thing in the morning. 

I love Ethiopia, but I despise the bus system.  The condition of the buses doesn't bother me, nor the roads.  What I hate is that all buses leave at 6am.  Three buses each day go from Arba Minch up to Addis Ababa.  All three of them depart at 6am.  I am not a morning person!  Getting up at 5am to catch buses might just kill me. 

African villages


African villages

Traffic Jam

African villages

Hotels in Arba Minch's upper town were full due to the AIDS conference.  The rooms in Sikela are full too.  I walked a big circle before finding a room in the cheapest hotel in town.  I would have gladly paid more and stayed elsewhere.  Bugs attacked me all night. 

During the night, I killed a couple of bedbugs.  In the morning, I found a single red ant with big mean pinchers.  I haven't seen any other ants around here.  Is it possible that I carried that ant all the way up from the desert?

It seems that the bedbugs in Africa and Asia are different breeds.  The African bedbugs draw much less blood.  This is a positive and a negative.  When you crush an Asian bedbug, it leaves a splatter of blood on the wall or sheets.  These stains are disgusting, but they serve as an efficient early warning system.  If a hotel has bloodstains on the wall, you know you do not want to stay there.  Last night, killing the bedbugs left only a hint of blood, leaving no warning for future travelers.

In Asia, bedbug bites didn't appear for 12 hours.  In Singapore, I was unknowingly bitten all night.  It wasn't until lunch that hundreds of itchy bites started appearing all over my body.  Last night, the bedbug bites swelled up immediately, waking me up.  It sounds unpleasant, but it's far better than the bites showing up the next day.  Waking up gave me a chance to kill some bedbugs, and cover myself with clothes and bug repellent in an attempt to minimize further bites.

One consistency between the African and Asian bedbugs is the horror of their bites.  They carry no diseases, but the bites itch like hell for two full days.  It's a travel experience that no one forgets.

After a terrible night sleep, I woke up at 5 in the morning, took a quick cold shower, and walked over to the bus station.  While traveling, I keep my pack with me constantly.  In the old days, before the laptop and professional camera, my carry-on sized pack fit comfortably between my legs on a bus.  It still fits, but no longer so comfortably.  With 3 people crunched into a seat big enough for two, and my backpack between my legs, I couldn't move my legs at all. 

On the bus, bugs continued to attack me.  At first, I thought that it was mosquitoes, but the pattern and frequency of the bites seemed unlike them.  There wouldn't be any bites for a while and then suddenly a bunch of bites would appear in a group on my foot, my arm, or my leg.  It wasn't until just outside of Addis that I found and killed a bastard, rogue bedbug hitchhiking on my backpack.  I really hope that there are no more in my pack, and that this one hasn't laid eggs.

I finally made it to Addis Ababa.  The trip was an adventure, and at times, like this last day, a struggle.  But I made it.

The Ethiopian border checkpoint was as far as I've ever been away from civilization.  The checkpoint was made up of a few shacks on a hill, surrounded by desert, with no electricity, and the nearest water was at the river 3 miles away.  Each town I passed through afterwards was more and more developed.  Omorate had generators.  Turmi had buildings made of concrete instead of mud.  Konso had running water and electricity.  Arba Minch was an actual town. 

But Addis was still a shock to my system.  Along Churchill Road, lights glittered endlessly off into the distance.  On the walk to my hotel, I passed rows of fashion shops.  After the Omo Valley, Addis Ababa seemed magical, just like Paris.

The trip from Nairobi to Addis Ababa was interesting enough that I wrote it up as a daily log.  If you'd like to read it from the beginning click here:  [ Leaving Nairobi ]

Leave a comment!  I'm much more inspired to write when I know people are reading. 

GLADYS SIEFERT - Jun 01, 2005

oh Adam the bugs sound terrible not for me.  You are really brave.  The city must be a great relief.  love Gladys

Naya - Jun 02, 2005

Hey whats up man!

I met you at the National Hotel in Addis Ababa. 
I can't believe you stayed in that hotel for so long.  How did you sleep with all of that noise every night.  Well i am back in the states and amazingly i am missing Ethiopia.  You are probably up north now, i know you will enjoy it. 
The flys in Lalibela are a pain in the ass, i couldnt get use to it.  Well take care and enjoy the rest of your travels.  I hope to be in Africa in the fall.  Ghana, Eygypt, and the omo valley (Ethioipia). 

Sharon - Jun 13, 2005

Reading and enjoying.

From someone still in the tech world.

Liz - Jul 05, 2005

Been checking your website periodically to see what's new.  I see that you've made it to Sudan - can't wait to hear about it.  Stay safe!

Mesfin Mengistu - Aug 15, 2005

Dear Adam,

I know you in Addis Ababa, A one met you in wutma and have a beer in your hotel.
Guess who I am?
remember my wife from Poland.
I liked all your articles and experiances.
liked the guide war.
I am gonna show anthony soon.
See ya then

Dr. Ermias Mamo - Feb 19, 2006


I love your positive interest about every place that you visit.  reading your travel journal has encouraged me to document my travel during an upcoming visit to Ethiopia next week.  I plan to visit Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Awasa, and Wondo Genet.  Though an American of Ethiopian origin, I have never been to these historical places.  I feel it is either now or never.



ben - Mar 24, 2007

just sat another 2 hours in front of the pc reading your blog about travelling from nairobi to addis.  i can't wait to get to ethiopia too!
you're doing a great job - thank you for sharing your experiences with us!  greetings, benny

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