One of the many incredible things about travelling is the times that should, technically, be awful but magically turn out to be, well, magical.

Travelling in Southern Ethiopia is hard. No scheduled buses and the most basic of accommodation and often the most basic of foods. It is hard but oh so rewarding and if you spend enough time there you begin to not only accept its hardness but you begin to slow down to African time and that’s when the really special experiences reveal themselves.

Drinking 'tea' while visiting locals in Key Afar,  Southern Ethiopia

Drinking ‘tea’ while visiting locals in Key Afar, Southern Ethiopia

One such experience happened to us as we began our long and treacherous journey from the deep south. We were in the town of Key Afar and wanted to head back to Karat Konso, to eventually make it back to Addis Ababa. Karat Konso is home to a wonderful hostel/campsite Strawberry Fields, which had the most insane of salads in an otherwise bleak foody region.

On the way to Key Afar a few days before, we had managed to get on a bus after much waiting around and complicated questioning, but no one seemed to know if such a bus existed for the return journey. The other means of transportation in this area was hitching with an Isuzu cargo truck BUT it isn’t exactly legal. In fact, we never really understood the law around this but let’s just say it is frowned upon. Without another option we asked around for a ride but were only offered unhelpfulness and crazy prices.

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 So, it’s safe to say we were a little stuck. But we weren’t in any hurry, and the drivers definitely weren’t either, so we set up camp on the side of the road with our bags and waited. And gradually we started to attract a crowd. The kids in this region are incredibly curious, in a way that only a child from a, relatively, untouched part of the world can be. We chatted with them and played with them and shared lolly-pops with them and they even did my hair!

Roadside hair braiding in Key Afar, Southern Ethiopia

Roadside hair braiding in Key Afar, Southern Ethiopia

Then there was the chief who fell in love with Oli and played dress up with him!

Oli and his friend the chief in Key Afar, Southern Ethiopia

Oli and his friend the chief in Key Afar, Southern Ethiopia

We must have been on that roadside for over 6 hours but it went by without even one moment of annoyance or frustration or impatience. We just accepted our fate, relaxed and opened our time to experience what this little town had to offer…its interesting and inquisitive people!

The people of Southern Ethiopia

The people of Southern Ethiopia

We did end up getting a ride with an Isuzu and in typical African fashion Oli was handed a goat during the loading of our overloaded truck! We would certainly miss this part of Ethiopia…

And one last picture of this special day… who ever saw a sunset like it!?

Sunset in Southern Ethiopia

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