The last 24 hours have been a bit of a change in vibes. I'll quickly recount. Last night with Befakadu's family we watched a BBC documentary on my net book about the Nile. Fun to share that with them, and then eat too much injera and wat for dinner. On the way back to my hotel, I was talking to Befakadu about having children. He has seven. To mix it up a bit, I told him I was planning on having none. We had an interesting conversation and thoughts were shared from both sides. Then when I went to pay him for the 13 meals I ate at his house and various other things he supplied me with: bottled water, a CDMA stick for internet, etc. He completely refused, saying I should only pay him the room charge of about $10 for five days. I felt bad that he was so gracious, but then I realized I shouldn't feel bad. It was what he wanted. He was sad when I told him I would leave the next morning, but gave me some important beta: Do not take minibuses, they are dangerous. Read more later on that :)
The first day I met him I told him I would make him a website to promote his hotel. Within a few days it will go live, likely from wordpress. I guess that will resettle my ethical debt to this man, a brother really.
The travel day started at 445am, woke up, slapped my pre-packed pack on and walked across the street to a crowd of people waiting at the bus station gates. The gates opened at 5:15AM and I ran to get the best seat in the bus, with the quality help of Befakadu's son Gabbro, who the whole week refused to let me carry my backpack when we walked together. So the bus takes off at exactly 6am. I'm in and out of sleep and religious music blares and we pass through some amazing landscapes and villages. Then I completely pass out and wake up on the flatland at a big junction called Gashena. I get off the bus, walk around a bit and then learn that this is the place I'm supposed to get off the bus. A few minibus drivers approached me and asked if I wanted a ride to Bahir Dar. I told them I was waiting for the bus. Bus is full, not coming today, etc. Standard.
Then with a bit of confidence in my step and some basic Amharic, I approached three well-dressed locals who were waiting on the side of the road. I asked them where they were going and they pointed in the same direction as me. I learned they were teachers of biology and mathematics and they had come from Lalibela that morning. Since I slept most of the way, and was in the front seat, I didn't even notice they were on the bus with me.
I asked them about the minibus and they confirmed, no good. They wanted to wait for the big bus. So we found some shade and waited for the big bus. A few hours go by, and with my Amharic phrase book, we laugh the time away and jump up every time we hear a big engine. Since most people are observing Lent this week, no one eats until lunch. Since most of the restaurants I saw on the side of the road side there looked sketch, when the teachers asked me if I wanted to eat, I said I was fasting. They thought that was pretty funny, as they were obviously fasting too. Many minibuses come and go but we don't get on them.
Eventually a minibus driver shows up that the teachers think they know, and is going to their destination. I think back to Befakadu's advice, and hesitate to get in with them. But the teachers tell me, the road gets bad AFTER the destination they are going to, so we can ride minibus to their town "Gaint" and then I can wait for the big bus with them. This doesn't make too much sense to me, as they were waiting for the big bus, but anyways...we get in. The driver is driving very reasonably and I am happy. We get off at their town and go eat "breakfast" of a huge plate of injera and eat with our hands. At one point during our meal some dude comes in and say something along the line of "blah franaji blah blah blah" and the math teacher stops eating and says..."Stupid man." He looks legitimately upset. So maybe the blahs were actually some bad words. Then, the teachers refuse to let me pay, go figure! The big bus comes and I jump on it. There's no seats left, but the driver lets me sit next to him. I immediately put my new Amharic to use and laughs are shared all around. Within about 10 minutes we pass an overturned minivan with blood and broken glass everywhere. I guess that's why you don't ride in those things around here... The rest of the ride is uneventful at at the last few kms we cross the Blue Nile! We arrive in Bahir Dar at about 3pm. I walk over to a guesthouse by the Tana Lake which is in the upper reaches of the Blue Nile watershed.
Over a pasta dinner I recap the day and think that compared to the stone-throwing today I've seen a lot of generosity and kindness. All of the drivers charged me the same money for passage as others, only *one* kid asked me for a pen, and I only got offered touts services maybe five times.
Trying to keep an open mind, after all, this is my first trip to Africa.