Nonno Farming


Lake Tana

Walga Health Care

Verena Schulthess

Mota Road

Ethiopian stories

Addis Ababa

Peppered finish


We arrive in Ethiopia on April 7, 2020. As the customs officer is very particular – he also wants to see the roof storage boxes – clearance takes until around 1 pm. We drive eagerly through the border village of Metemma with its many wooden huts and huts in pile-dwelling style. We immediately feel transported back to a completely different era. We park in a slightly larger parking lot outside the village and have a bite to eat. At 2 p.m. we set off in the direction of Gondar. We definitely want to go there today, as we need an Ethiopian SIM card. We still have about 3 hours by truck for the 200 km from the border to Gondar. We have to hurry, because the road is winding and leads up and downhill.

We arrive in Gondar shortly before sunset. We speculate on a spot in the parking lot of the Hotel Taye Belay, which is located in the center. But the small parking lot seems overcrowded. The parking attendant tells us that we can just stand at the side of the road, but that would be extremely inconvenient. An Ethiopian approaches us and – like a small miracle – organizes a space for us at the edge of the parking lot where we just fit in. We stay here for four nights for Birr 200 per night (approx. US$ 6) in the very best, central location.

Gondar lies at an altitude of between around 2200 and 2600 meters above sea level. As we have climbed around 1700 meters in one day, we feel the altitude up here and take it slowly.

The atmosphere is very different to Sudan. On the one hand, we are now in a country (still) characterized by Christianity, on the other hand, we soon get the impression that we are being “sucked dry” as tourists wherever possible. We spend the first few days with completely exorbitant asking prices and the constant impression that someone is trying to rip us off. We first need a bit of experience here until we get a feel for how Ethiopia ticks and that always means that you fall in and only afterwards realize how much the goods would actually have been worth. For example, the beer that was sold to us at double the price with the argument that we would get half the price back when we returned the bottles. But nobody took the bottles back, let alone returned the deposit.

The Gemp

The Gemp is a large area in the middle of Gondar on which the 17. and The Ethiopian emperors resided here in the 18th century. The first emperor was Fasilidades, who set up camp on the still densely wooded hill in 1636 and commissioned the construction of the first stone palace.

We visit the Gemp on Sunday morning to the sound of prayer litanies from various Orthodox churches echoing throughout the city from 4 o’clock in the morning. At the entrance to the Gemp, many Orthodox Christians are gathered for a service before the service.

We are very surprised that the loudspeaker nuisance from the Orthodox churches is even more pronounced and lasts longer than in the Muslim countries we have traveled to so far. If we had hoped to finally leave this mass influence via loudspeakers behind us from Ethiopia onwards, we now feel like we’ve been thrown from the frying pan into the fire.

The palace of Fasilidas, which we visit first, is still impressive. It is still completely intact and is reminiscent of a medieval castle in Europe. The smaller palace of Iyasu I also looks enormous, even though it is much smaller. The stroll through the grounds is pleasantly quiet compared to the crowded city surrounding the site.

The library and the ruins of the civil service palace behind it are romantic. Finally, we visit the imperial stables and the adjoining festival hall of Emperor Bekaffa.

Moated castle

In a small valley stands the water castle of Fasilidas, a pleasure palace standing in a pool of water. Unfortunately, the water is only refilled for the Tinkat festival, the baptism festival on January 19, and so we have to imagine the water as the pool is dry.

Debre Berhan Selassie

The most famous church in Gondar is the Debre Berhan Selassie, which is located on a hill on the outskirts of the city. It is surrounded by a protective wall with watchtowers. On the roof there are three round crosses with 7 spokes, which symbolize the 7 nails of the crucifixion and also stand for the sins of the world.

Inconspicuous from the outside, the interior contains a previously unseen wealth of paintings of religious motifs. Ancient legends and an unprecedented number of “saints” are depicted on the walls here. Accordingly, we also share the church with many tourists.

On the front wall, a picture of three men in the same shape catches the eye. This symbolizes the trinity of God, namely the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The famous angel ceiling with the faces of countless angels is impressive.

Lake Tana

Lake Tana lies at just under 1800 m above sea level, south of the Gondar Mountains. It is 84 km long and 66 km wide with an area of over 3000 km2. This makes it about six times the size of Lake Constance. Lake Tana is considered the “source lake” of the Blue Nile. 40 smaller rivers flow into the lake and feed it, of which 6 permanently flowing rivers provide 95% of the water inflow.

Kim & Tim’s Village

Kim & Tim’s Village on the outskirts of Gorgora on Lake Tana is well known among Overlanders. Practically every passer-by stays here for a few nights. So it is not surprising that the system is highly praised. We are very much looking forward to this place on Lake Tana.

The “Village” comprises several round huts with mostly beautiful views of Lake Tana. However, the small restaurant hardly has a view of the lake, as the lake view part is reserved for the staff – incomprehensible. The part reserved for overlanders has three small and sloping pitches under a huge fig tree. Larger vehicles have to drive all the way down to lake level, but without a view of the lake, and are still quite crooked even after jacking up the front. More could be made of this site for little money. For example, create one or two terraces at the top of the slope with a view of the lake without much effort. We find the prevailing atmosphere strange to the point of being off-putting. We can be happy to have a question answered at all.

The aid to the village of Gorgora presented on the website with the “training of skilled workers for the tourism industry” is a joke and we cannot take it seriously. Nevertheless, we enjoy the peace and quiet, being undisturbed and the many lively birds. At the top, by the guard house, the internet reception is quite good, down in the hole, not so much.

Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar is the capital of the Amhara region and lies at the outlet of the Blue Nile from Lake Tana. The 200 km to Bahir Dar are exhausting, as one village after another lines up along the main road.

United Gardens

We are allowed to stand in the garden of a young vegetable farmer – called United Gardens. The only way to get under a high-voltage power line is to lift the cables – hopefully nothing will happen. The garden is divided into 6 pick-nick spaces. Coffee and drinks are available from the small bistro. Next to the garden is an exemplary vegetable garden that surprises and delights us. The owner and staff are very friendly. It is pleasant to stand here, even if everything is very cramped. Silence reigns in the night.

Origin of the Blue Nile

As already mentioned, the Blue Nile has its source in Lake Tana. The estuary is hidden behind an island. A small herd of Nile horses cavorts in the outflow area. During the winter dry season, little water flows from Lake Tana into the blue Nile. How powerful this mighty stream must be during the four-month dry season!

Zeghie Peninsula

There are many monasteries and churches around Lake Tana, but mainly on the many islands in the lake. As we fancy a boat trip, we book a boat with a powerful engine for the crossing to the Zeghie peninsula. Since we are alone, we have to pay the whole price and cannot split the 2000 Birr. As there is obviously still room in the boat, our Bajaj driver (tuk-tuk) and his sister simply get into the boat too. His sister had never been to the peninsula. We leave them to it. The crossing takes about 40 minutes.

Ura Kidane Meheret Monastery

On the peninsula, it is about a 20-minute walk to the Ura Kidane Meheret monastery with its typical Ethiopian round church . It was founded in 1314.

Outside there is a covered walkway with painted shutters. You can also walk around the square “sanctuary” inside. This is painted all over with images of saints and legends.
The foundation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church dates back to the 4th century AD, when the ruling family was converted to Christianity by the Greek Frumentius. The ruler at the time, King Ezana, then introduced a new king in 345 AD. introduced the Christian faith as the state religion in the kingdom of Axum. Later rulers traced their ancestry back to the Queen of Sheba, who is said to have had a child with the Israelite King Solomon. This is why many borrowings from Judaism can be found in the Christian faith of the Orthodox Ethiopians.

Via the Mota Road to Addis Ababa

Two roads lead from Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa. We choose the secondary route, the Mota Road. Paved by the Chinese not too long ago, this road is easy to drive on with few potholes. It leads across a charming high plateau with a relatively dense rural population. People wave and are usually friendly. If you stop somewhere, there are soon lots of people and especially children standing around our vehicle. It is not possible to find peace here. As we can’t find a suitable place to spend the night, we drive through to the junction with the A3, but not without taking a lunch break in a harvested field.

At the junction between Mota Road and the A3, we find an empty filling station with a fuel depot. It is guarded. The men carry rifles. We are allowed to spend the night here, but not without paying, which we realize the next morning. Who would deny a person armed with a rifle a contribution? 300 Birr are due, after all they guarded us in pairs.

NIL Canyon

On the way to Addis Ababa, we have to cross the Nile Canyon. It goes down 1600m from the high plateau and up 1600m again on the other side. The gradients are (far) more than 10% in some places. In fact, the road climbs 2300m in our direction on the other side of the canyon, as we have to cross a range of hills with an altitude of 3100m. As we don’t know how our MAN will cope with such long and steep climbs, we set off in the cool of the morning, shortly after sunrise.

Even the 1600-meter descent is a challenge. We can often only drive very slowly, as deep ruts have formed and the tar has rippled badly due to the weights of fully loaded trucks pushing downwards. In between, tarless stretches or deep potholes.

The driveway on the opposite side is in better condition and – what joy and reassurance – the needle of the cooling water thermometer always remains in the lower green range. Due to the steep incline, the route is slow but continuous mostly in the 3. sometimes in the 4th gear up. Unfortunately, the heavy haze often obscures the view of the huge, deep gorge. We take another break on a harvested field. But as soon as we stop there, the first Ethiopians approach and surround our vehicle. As they are always discussing loudly outside, there is no time for a nap. So we soon drive on to our destination for the day, the German Eco Lodge near Debre Libanos. An exhausting, but also wonderful day of driving!

German Eco Lodge

Shortly before Debre Libanos, we turn off to the German Eco Lodge, which is situated on the edge of a canyon. It is quiet here and we can stand in the lodge’s parking lot. However, there is not much to see of “German”. The lodge is small and looks a bit run-down to us. Too bad. We decide to stay two nights and acclimatize for Addis Ababa. After all, you can buy good beer here, even if it’s not cheap, and the view is fantastic.

Addis Ababa

Before Addis Ababa, the road climbs again to over 3000m. After that, it’s all downhill – hopefully not symbolically. In Addis Ababa we are allowed to stand in a private house – so unfortunately only a few pictures.

Nice days in Addis Ababa – and shopping is a bit more fun again here, as butter and imported cheese (Gauda from Holland) are available. Even UHT milk and yoghurt from France and, of course, sweets with your coffee. We prefer the Shoah supermarkets. Addis Ababa now also has 4G Internet – but watch out. The 4G SIM card does not work in the country, only in Addis Ababa.

Here I set up my PC and start editing the film about the clinic in Khartoum. Vreni is busy baking bread, doing the laundry and weeding the garden. – And last but not least, one of our favorite pastimes is playing and chatting with the five children and teenagers of a German family who live here. We really enjoy having these young people around us. There is a lot of music and singing here – everyone plays an instrument and also has their practice times, which we listen to. But that’s not all: when we bake or prepare something delicious, the children suddenly turn up at our door, knock on it and surprise us. These contacts are really good for us.

Nonno Farm Project

On the recommendation of those responsible, we prefer to visit the Nonno Farm project. So we drive about 250 km out into the countryside to the west, about 70 km of which are on gravel roads. Until recently, this region was inaccessible during the rainy season, as there are several bodies of water to navigate through. But since the dirt road gave way to gravel and the last bridge is now being built, access has become easier and safer.

The Nonno Farm project is managed and supported by the Swiss-based Mission on the Nile. The manager, coordinator and employees are Ethiopian. Among other things, the following goals are associated with the farm project:

  • Creating jobs – up to 300 day laborers find a livelihood here
  • Instruction of new cultivation methods for small farmers in the area to eliminate the “traditional” hunger period during the dry season
  • Further training of farmers in the area in organic farming
  • Raising the income of the population in the catchment area
  • etc.


Unfortunately, we missed the harvest time and can only watch as the 100 kg sacks filled with TEFF and SORGHUM grain are loaded onto a truck and driven away for sale. Maize is also grown, a mango plantation with 1600 trees is being established and the keeping of wild bees to produce 700 kg of organic honey per year is also being developed.

Show garden

A large show garden is used to instruct farmers in the area. Many different vegetables are grown here organically. However, instruction is also given on how to make compost from the organic waste that is traditionally available. For us, it is a beautiful sight to be able to watch the day laborers happily and diligently watering the show garden in the early morning. A calm, tranquil atmosphere lies over the beautiful garden. This garden is good for us and we enjoy it to the full!


The Nonno project is networked with other players in this specialist field. For example with“Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania“. Their employee Meddy stays at Nonno Farm for two weeks and teaches the employees about organic farming and, in particular, how to train farmers in this subject. Over the course of several days, he and the Nonno employees build up compost that is around 10 meters long, 2 meters wide and 1.5 meters high, which can be used in a few weeks as an addition to vegetable planting.

We are impressed by everything Meddy can tell us about the interrelationships in organic farming. His conviction is infectious and the subject matter begins to fascinate.

Model farmer

To increase the impact of the training and instruction and as an additional incentive for other farmers in the area, the Nonno project is working with a number of model farmers in the wider area who have adopted the ideas and methods. Today we are visiting one such model farmer.

On his own initiative, he has built a small irrigation system that allows him to water his beautiful vegetable garden even during the dry season. The result is visible: his daughter prepares harvested onions for sale at the market. This proves that it is also possible to harvest during the dry season.

Coffee beans grow under shady trees, tomatoes are watered and onions are harvested.

After visiting the plantations, the model farmer takes us to his farm. He invests the better income he earns in a bigger and airier house. Until now, the family of four lived in a small and gloomy round hut that could barely accommodate four mattresses. In future, he and his family will be able to live in a larger house with several rooms.

We are very pleased and impressed to see a development project that is already bearing fruit.

Below: The managing director of the Nonno project

Clean drinking water

The Nonno farm used to be a coffee plantation. However, the locals living around the farm set fire to the plantations, which is why the farmer at the time gave up. With the government handing over the land to the mission on the Nile with the purpose of running a profitable farm, it was clear that the farm had to be an asset for the local people living nearby.

The first action was therefore to drill and install wells for clean drinking water in the surrounding area. A total of 19 such wells were built by Nonno Farm. We visit one of them. The population meets at these water points to fill up with water, which is why the nurse at Nonno Farm also provides regular input on topics such as hygiene, disease prevention, etc.

Village school

At the junction of the gravel road to the farm, a village is increasingly forming, as more and more day laborers are settling here due to the earning opportunities at Nonno Farm. For example, the regular income enables a capable employee of Nonno Farm to build a “big house” by local standards.

The village’s simple school is located a little further on. The buildings are built in the traditional style. But dedicated teachers teach here. As the existing school buildings can no longer accommodate the number of pupils, Nonno Farm is financing a further wing with 4 additional classrooms.


Education is also needed in this region. As adults are often stuck in their traditions and traditional opinions and cannot break out of them, all change begins with the children. Based on this insight, Nonno Farm built and runs a kindergarten. Perhaps this facility should rather be called a “preschool”.

By first grade, children learn mainly by playing with toys. For example, how to handle scissors and much more. They also learn discipline and organization, how to be quiet, etc., all things that they need for a successful future, but are not taught at home.

In second grade, the children learn how to interact with each other, they learn the alphabet, the days of the week, etc. – They sing and listen to stories. They are eager, bursting with energy and when there is a task to solve, most hands go up immediately. The local kindergarten teachers are encouraged and supported through regular training by a kindergarten teacher from Germany.

Walga Health Care Center

As we have planned our flight to Switzerland on March 29, we drive the 60 km to the Walga Health Care Center on Friday, March 13. Once there, we learn that the Ethiopian government has just reported the first official case of the coronavirus – a Japanese man is said to have brought the disease to Ethiopia. Schools will remain closed from now on. We also hear that there are riots against whites, as the common people blame the whites for importing the corona virus.

The question of what we should do now is driving us crazy. Travel to Addis Ababa immediately and fly back as long as you can? Lufthansa has now canceled all flights from Addis Ababa. We are still trying to get a visa for Kenya. We would have crossed the green border to Kenya … but our visa application was simply not processed.

Sitting out the corona crisis here

The management of the Walga Klinik cordially invites us to stay here
. They advise us not to fly home because the risk of infection is greater when flying. In the end, we calm down inwardly at the thought of simply staying here and sitting it out. After all, we have enough work to do in and around our vehicle.

There is no curfew here in Ethiopia. This would also not be possible because then the population, who mostly work on a daily wage basis, would starve. But we whites should rather not be seen in public without locals. For this reason, Ethiopians buy for us and supply us. As the grounds of the Walga Klinik are very large, we don’t feel confined. We also have no patient contact, which is why the risk of infection is not very high for us. As we are near a clinic, we would be taken care of in the event of illness – malaria is also a risk here.

Visa extension

Our visa expires on April 27. However, we still have no concerns about not getting it extended, as you can still enter Ethiopia (with subsequent quarantine). And the Ethiopian president is well-disposed towards the whites “because they would help the Ethiopians”.

Our life here

So we are standing behind the Walga Clinic in a park-like area. Meanwhile, we drink milk from milk powder, Vreni also produces our own yogurt from milk powder and regularly bakes delicious bread rolls. We indulge our passion for cheese with imported Gauda cheese from Holland, which we were able to buy, and enjoy the fruits of the land (bananas and mango), now know how to treat tomatoes here so that they don’t harm our digestive system and have set ourselves up for a longer stay.

Have we regretted it so far? No – we are happy to have made this decision. We also make ourselves useful here when we can. For example, Vreni has been mending the professional aprons while I work on the website and edit films. We don’t know what will happen here. It is estimated that there are 28 million infections in this country.

Ethiopia differs from the German-speaking countries in one respect: The government has proclaimed a day of repentance and prayer, which is eagerly observed.

Our plan

In the meantime, the short rainy season has passed. But even now, rain showers still pelt down every few days. Everything is green and blooming and the fruit is ripening on the trees. Many birds flutter and sing and now and again mantled monkeys shimmy from tree to tree. Daytime temperatures are around 34° – but in the early morning it cools down to around 19°. Sun and warmth and blue skies every day. We love it!

You can’t really plan at the moment. But, if possible, we would like to travel on to Kenya in June and continue our journey in East Africa – and finally be able to immerse ourselves in the natural areas of these countries.

Current situation

On April 8, 2020, the situation is as follows:

  • Public transportation was shut down. As a result, ordinary people are less able to transport their goods.
  • Prices are soaring as retailers take advantage of the situation.
  • We can’t get bananas and other fruit at the moment.
  • The farmers’ markets have been canceled (large crowds), which is why the simple farmers can no longer sell or buy.
  • Schools are still closed, but universities are open (university quarantine)
  • The country does not have enough masks
  • The government does not want to introduce a curfew
  • Private transportation with private vehicles is still permitted

Ethiopian stories

As you can see, we are still standing on the grounds of the Walga Klinik. During this time, we learn some stories about the daily life of the local population in the near and far surroundings. We write these stories here to the best of our knowledge and belief, so that they help to give a better understanding of the country and its inhabitants.

The suppository must go!

Sonja has given birth to a beautiful baby. One day, her baby has to vomit and, as is the case with both young and old, this happens due to a choking effect. Sonja’s colleague, who is heavily pregnant, notices this and says to Sonja in a shocked and serious tone: “Your baby’s uvula must be cut off as quickly as possible, otherwise it could fall off and the baby could choke on it!” An old superstition that persists and has cost the lives of many a sweet baby. The neck suppository is cut away with a thread that is formed into a loop. This is what happened to a family with twins, for example. The neck suppository was cut out with a thread. The child bled profusely, suffocated and died.

The twins

A mother gave birth to twins. After the birth, she experienced severe cramps (eclampsia) and her blood pressure rose sharply (gestosis). My whole body tensed up. The convulsions now also caused convulsions. The husband wanted to have his wife treated at the clinic, but all the relatives resisted him because the symptoms were clear: the convulsions indicated a demonic possession. So the woman was taken to the priests of the Orthodox Church and they in turn took the woman to the “holy water”. However, these measures had just the opposite effect, they led the woman to death through agonizing convulsions, because in this disease no stimuli whatsoever should fall on the sick person. It needs darkness and absolute peace and quiet. The twins are now growing up without their mother. Nevertheless, they thrive because their father takes good care of them.

The woman who was supposed to die

In this area there are still many natural healers and charlatans who rob the people and yet cannot help them. In a remote area with hardly any medical care, a family lived in a remote hut. The mother of two young children fell ill. Her sister worked for a natural healer and of course he was consulted. The naturopath suspected that the woman might have AIDS. His absolute verdict was: “This woman is dying”. He gave the advice not to give the sick woman anything to eat or drink and to put her in bed in the dark. That’s how it was done! Of course, the woman was getting weaker and weaker and the wailing women were already gathered in the house and everything had already been prepared for the death ritual.
By chance, a nurse was nearby and she got to know about it because she knew the family from previous visits. She shook up the resident nurse and urged him to go with her to this family. At first they didn’t want to let her into the house or see her dying mother. In the end, she was able to assert herself and sat down next to the woman lying in the dark. She ordered the door to be opened and light to be let in, demanded a banana and a cup of water and poured the water into the mouth of the completely dehydrated woman, who gladly accepted it.
In the end, against the wishes of the nurse working for the naturopath, she managed to get the mother carried on a stretcher to the ambulance and on to the clinic.
The mother of two young children was treated in hospital. She was not suffering from Aids, but from another disease.
Completely healthy and strengthened, she was able to return home to her husband and young children and is now a grateful mother.

About pregnancy and birth

Life in Ethiopia is hard for 90% of the population. It is even harder in rural areas and hardest of all for women. A lot is imposed on them. However, there are not only the bad guys and the drinkers etc. among the men, but there are also men in Ethiopia who carry their wives on their hands and look after them as best they can. But of course there are also others – just like everywhere else.
Girls at the tender age of 13 and over can easily become pregnant. They themselves are so uneducated and ignorant that they don’t really understand what is happening to them.
One of the girls who got pregnant was sure she had a snake in her belly that had to come out – but out came a cute little baby.
Another girl “lost” something in the field and rushed home in fright – a day laborer discovered that she had given birth to a child and then also brought it home and all together to the clinic.
Another young woman felt unwell and came to the clinic accompanied by her uncle. In the clinic, she went to the toilet because she felt pressure – and plop, something landed in the toilet. Fortunately, this was noticed by an employee and the baby was saved.
As the people in Ethiopia are generally very slim and the women wear loose clothing, they can be pregnant without realizing it.
These girls get pregnant by stepfathers, by uncles, by “bad boys”, and, and … As a rule, they run away when it becomes known that they have impregnated a girl.
The problem, however, is that these girls/young women are now ostracized. They are expelled from their families (it is a disgrace) if the pregnancy becomes known and – they are expelled from the church. Without a church there is no grave, because the churches and not the state have the power over graves and burials. This creates a lot of pressure, which leads the girls into great difficulties. They are left alone and all the responsibility is on them. One problem that should not be underestimated is the prevailing superstition and the low level of education. They know nothing about their bodies.
Abortion now seems to be the only way out, which is why there are state abortion facilities.
However, abortions are also often attempted with teas, herbs and other means, and state abortions occur even when the embryo is already formed.
One such young mother came to the clinic to give birth. She had tried to abort the child the day before the birth. But now it was inevitable. The child was born and placed in the young mother’s arms and on her breast. When the young mother saw this baby, when she realized what she was about to abort, her tears ran down her face and she bitterly regretted that she had wanted to abort such a sweet little creature.

Peppered finish

At the beginning of July 2020, the Oromo tribe rises up in revolt. Roads are barricaded, houses are set on fire, members of other tribes are tortured and hung upside down from trees, etc. The Oromo make up over 50% of the total population of Ethiopia and are trying to gain more power in the state or, if necessary, secede.

After about two weeks, things return to some degree of normality. As we are in the tribal territory of the Ghurage, we are at little risk. In connection with the riots, the internet has been cut off and we can only communicate in a makeshift way via our Swiss telephone number by text message.

As a stay in Switzerland is unavoidable anyway – we have to renew our truck driving licenses and take the regular medical test – we decide to fly home. And yes, there is also the fact that Verena can only partially lift her left arm after a fall. But we think that will work itself out! On July 20, 2020, we fly back to Switzerland via Vienna with Ethiopian Airlines.

And secondly, things turn out differently than you think

Back in Switzerland, just a precautionary visit to the family doctor to confirm that there is nothing wrong with Verena’s left arm. But he sends us straight to the hospital for clarification. The MRI then shows it clearly and the shoulder specialist explains to us that a muscle tendon on the shoulder has detached from the bone and should be operated on. We could leave it alone, but Verena is still too young… we object that we are already 65 and 70 respectively. The doctor says: Anyone traveling through Africa is still young!

The operation goes very well. However, the arm has to be worn on an abduction splint for the next 6 weeks – day and night. Ernie mutates into a nurse and the next 6 weeks are characterized by a certain rhythm. However, the layman is amazed at how much Verena can do with only one available arm. Thanks to the good course of the operation, however, physiotherapy can begin after just 10 days. And the good progress continues …. Thank God!

The planned 6-week stay in Switzerland turns into 12 – at least for Ernie – but for Verena it becomes more.

Trapped in Ethiopia

Our MAN absolutely has to get out of Ethiopia. We try in vain to obtain an extension of the residence permit for the vehicle from Switzerland. Emails are not answered and the Ethiopian embassy in Geneva is not prepared to help either.

Instead of Verena, I’m flying to Addis Ababa with a friend on October 7. Rebooking with Ethiopian Airlines proves to be extremely time-consuming. Finally, I receive a confirmation for my return flight. But Zurich Airport cannot “check me in” to Vienna – the Ethiopian flight is not open. My only option is to buy a new ticket to Vienna, where, after some excitement, I manage to check in to Addis Ababa after all.

Our visit to the Ethiopian Customs Commission is crowned with success. We are given an uncomplicated exit permit for the truck. We now have 12 days to leave the country legally.
Our first stop is the Walga Clinic, 200 km west of Addis Ababa. We want to say goodbye here and then continue our journey.
The landscape has changed due to the rainy season. Beautiful green fields everywhere. We try to enjoy the last 12 days in Ethiopia.

We take four days for the journey (800 km) via Sodo – Arba Minch – Yabelo – Moyale. The road from Hoseanna to Sodo is littered with potholes. From Sodo to Arba Minch the road is excellent, but there are so many people with animals on the road that even there it is only possible to make slow progress.

The view of the jungle and the two lakes in the African Rift Valley from Emerald Lodge is magnificent. On the third day, rain and a gravel road with lots of potholes on the way to Konso. Excellent road conditions again from Konso to Yabelo and on to Moyale, the longed-for border town.

On Thursday, October 21, 2020, we arrive at Ethiopian customs in Moyale in the early afternoon. Full of expectations, we take our documents and go to immigration to get the exit stamp, then stamp the Carnet de Passage and enter Kenya.
Far from it: The immigration officer tells us that the Ethiopian border is closed and that we need a stamp from Addis Ababa. We persist and try to get the official to give us the exit stamp with all kinds of explanations. Everything is useless. We are only about 50 meters from the Kenyan customs gate and are not allowed to go there. We have to leave the country with the vehicle – and yet we are prevented from leaving.
We apply for an extension for the vehicle at the customs office responsible for exiting the country so that we can drive back to Addis Ababa in peace. The extension is promised for Friday, October 22. No, the extension hadn’t come yet and they couldn’t issue us anything themselves. We are supposed to come by again on Saturday morning. But there is no extension on Saturday morning either. We are supposed to come back on Monday morning…. But our driving permit only lasts until Sunday, 25.10.2020.

Slowly it dawns on us – they are determined that we are no longer allowed to drive – and what they would then do with us or our vehicle on Monday is written in the stars, because from Monday our MAN is illegal in Ethiopia.
The decision is quickly made: We drive back to Addis Ababa (800 km) within two days and first get a new permit for the vehicle to leave the country. On the drive back to Addis Ababa, we are stopped in Yabelo. The policeman wants to see the vehicle documents and claims that they have expired. In the end, he lets us drive after all.
We then set off in search of a stamp for our departure from Ethiopia. This is not easy, because some officials say that we have a valid visa and therefore don’t need anything else, while others say laconically that the border to Kenya is simply closed.
As if by a miracle, the next day we find a person step by step who issues us the special permit to leave the country for Kenya without any ifs or buts.

Everything in butter? No, to our horror we discover that a spring leaf on the rear axle is broken. But we definitely want to leave here now and head off in the direction of Moyale. In Bishoftu at MAN they don’t want to help us with the feather blade. We try again in Hawassa, but a suitable spring leaf cannot be found there either and we are refused help here too. So we drive carefully back to Moyale in four days – as if we were on a one-way trip.

At customs in Moyale we are greeted warmly by everyone and customs staff tell us that we can leave the country today
. It is Saturday, October 31, 2020. The exuberant friendliness of the immigration officer and his processing is suspicious. At least we soon have the exit stamp in our passports and the exit papers for the vehicle are also issued quickly – despite the power cut.

Completely unspectacularly, we are finally allowed to pass through the iron gate that leads to Kenya. How happy we are to finally be in Kenya.

03.2 Zweiter Versuch-162520

Conclusion Ethiopia

It is not possible to convey what I felt and experienced in just a few words. Ethiopia is undoubtedly a beautiful country that promises an exciting visit. Which country can look back on 3000 years of uninterrupted history? There are only a few countries in the world.

Visible on the license plates with red lettering, hundreds of Toyota Landcruisers drive through the area, usually with only one person in them: the NGOs
(Non Governmental Organization). However, the name is deceptive because all infrastructure built by NGOs belongs to the Ethiopian state from the outset and can only be used and operated in close cooperation with the state authorities. This means that NGOs are actually extended arms of the state, bringing millions of US dollars and other currencies into the country every year.
Cows that the Ethiopians know how to milk skillfully

Many Ethiopians are ignorant and have little or no education. When they graduate from school after 12 years of lessons, they immediately think they are doing something wrong and only want to work in white shirts and without getting their hands dirty. Unfortunately, the school system is still not an institution where people are educated in the true sense of the word. Here in Switzerland we have a saying: “If you don’t become anything, you become a landlord.” In Ethiopia it should be: “If you don’t become anything, you become a teacher. How can a country progress in this way?

Of course, the ritual and absolute faith of the Orthodox Church are also obstacles on the way forward. This faith only looks back on long traditions and binds the faithful to countless saints’ and other church festivals, during which people sit at home and do not work unless they spend the day in church. The countless church festivals and rituals also require voluntary offerings from the faithful in the form of food, which can even lead to the family going hungry, even though the harvest would actually have been sufficient.

Back to the NGOs
: they have actually spoiled Ethiopia. You give without expecting anything in return. If you meet Ethiopians as a white person, you are quickly surrounded by many people and they all want something from you, namely money. “You, you” – shouts everywhere, give me my money, etc. Constant begging gestures at the roadside, even while driving. If it were up to us, we would expel all NGOs from the country and leave the country to its own devices. This applies above all to state NGOs, whose involvement is always linked to political interests.
In Moyale we met an employee of HEKS, the aid organization of the Protestant churches in Switzerland. He approached us beaming with joy because he thought we were also NGOs. But he was unable to answer the question of what he was doing for HEKS in this landscape.

The funny thing is
“The West” is carrying out countless projects in Ethiopia at a cost of millions, while the Chinese and other states are exploiting the country and robbing the locals of their livelihoods. What a contradiction.

But what have the NGOs achieved in Ethiopia over the last 30 years?
? Nothing – or at least not much. The Ethiopians are still very proud people who don’t really want to learn anything “from the West”, which is why they are happy to accept the money and aid, but on the whole want to remain as they always were or as they have always been.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Atrasaw Admasu
    24. August 2021 12:03


    How are you and your family? How is life, work and every thing? Sorry for my late email.

    I, My little brother and staffs are well. I always remember you and those pleasant times that we have spent at United Garden. You are always in my memories.
    I hope you also remember me and every thing.
    I will be happy If you let me know your current status, where and how are you. I hope you are very well.
    I already sent an email via your private email address that you gave me at United Garden .( but couldn’t get your reply.

    Hopefully I will get your sooner reply.
    I wish all the best !!

    Yours Atrsaw , United Garden
    Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

  • Hoooh, finally I found you 🎊🎉🎊🎉🎊🎉 Hope you doing well this days.
    I sow your car in Dubai, parked at the beach, while I was dropping my family at the same place, I was in rush that’s why I didn’t come, and next day I didn’t fined you there. Wanted to say Hi 👋 and definitely will follow you on your social media. If you will ever come back to Dubai, pls be my guest.
    I’m planning to build caravan travel the world, your videos are very informative but I don’t understand anything, lol, never mined, I hVe my friend from Switzerland, she can translate. Please Stay in touch. My nickname in YouTube is Mr. Amirden


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