Morning arrives and we leap out of bed to explore what has transpired in New Zealand. Various emails from Colin confirm that he has the process well underway. With two hours to the close of business in NZ all forms are complete and MFAT prepare for the handover of action to Brian Chambers in their Cairo office. He will hopefully be able to communicate with his counter part in the Ethiopian embassy. There is nothing more to do except wait for Cairo to commence the business day, we return to the maintenance tasks in hand, tightening bolts and fitting a new battery to Jo’s bike.
Brian emails us with the first piece of bad news, we are two days out from the Ethiopian New Year, even worse this is a special one as it is their Millennium. (Y2K all over again) We are told that the main office on Addis Ababa will close tomorrow for one week. If we do not succeed today we will have to return to Nairobi and even then that Embassy may close to observe this special event.
With all work complete we have a cook up for lunch, the cell phone bursts into life and Brian is on the phone with even more bad news, it appears that our situation does not deserve special attention and we are told that we will have to follow normal protocol to obtain the required Visa’s. We leave Brian with a last attempt as we contemplate our options.
Do we travel back down the road from hell or do we alter the trip and return to Cape Town. Do we charter a plane and fly to Addis where we can obtain Visa’s on arrival at the airport? Do we stay in Moyale for a week? All these options are discussed; we all dismiss any idea to ride back down the road from hell.
We then recall the words of Noor (The Last King of Kenya), “I can get you into Ethiophia” We openly discuss the potential consequences of entering illegally, staying in Kenya illegally and the impacts of our actions on the remainder of the trip, the Carnet’s and the risk to safety. We all agree that these are better odds than riding the road to hell or spending a week in Moyale. We contact Noor and he is on it immediately. Noor’s network fires into life.
With SMS and cell phone calls flying around and two hours before the border post closes for the day a call comes in from Brian in Cairo, the Ethiopian embassy has agreed to call Moyale and allow us through the border. We must go immediately. The scene is like something from Thunderbirds, “Thunderbirds are go”. We frantically pack our gear, Gareth is running around with someone’s underpants, Dave’s clothes are on the line and wet and equipment is scattered everywhere.
Brendan and I arrive at the border post ahead of the others, the Kenyan’s remember us from yesterday, especially the Soda pop twins. The Kenyan big cheese finds it hard to believe that we have permission and only allows one of us to cross no man’s land to confirm our position with the Ethiopian authorities. I leave the team in search of the Ethiopian Big Cheese in the blue suit. We have one hour to go before the whistle blows, the flags drop and the border closes.
“No we have not received a call and we can not let you enter. I explain that we have clearance from his ambassador in the Embassy at Cairo and that he has stated that a phone call to Moyale had been made. He is insistent that this is not the case and asks me to leave. I explain that this is not possible and request his name and phone number. Temperatures rise and thoughts of an Ethiopian jail run through my head. Finally he agrees to make a call to Addis Ababa and asks me to remain out of ear shot, doubting that he will make the call I move within ear shot of his office “Office No 1” He is in fact on the phone so I move quickly back to my allocated spot. He steps out of his office “Bring you team now” Needing a confirmation slip from him to give to the Kenyan’s I ask him for one more favour, he completes the slip and we all rush to complete papers and get the required entry stamp.
In the middle of all this Noor’s cousin appears on the scene, oh shit have we started something that may impact on our formal entry process into Ethiopia. We concentrate on the legal job in hand and complete the necessary forms, time is of the essence as we race from immigration to customs to get our carnet’s complete.
The Whistle blows and the flags drop, the border closes and we are still in Moyale, the Ethiopian side of Moyale. We stand Noor down and bid him farewell, we ride into the dusk looking for accommodation and four South African’s on BMW’s carrying Pizza’s …………another story
Tony & Floyd