Debark (ET)

As I said before Ethiopia surprises me every day. Here in Debark in the Simien Mountains people are so friendly that you instantly wait for them to ask for money and they never do. I was a bit desperate to find internet to get my ongoing trip organized. At this point I would have settled for a quick email check just to see if a particular trip was available. Yesterday on our beautiful driving day again up and down mountains we stopped in a small village on top of a mountain and surprise surprise they had power and internet! Unfortunately it was too slow… but still!
When we arrived in Debark at 9pm a number of guys hung out by the hotel and immediately welcomed us to town. On the road we continuously heard the ‘you you you’ and ‘farengi’ and ‘give me money’ by kids that came out of nowhere to run along the truck. Here in Debark, a small place that doesn’t see many tourists, there was none of that. I asked if there was internet and two guys immediately ran off to have the cafe owner re-open his shop for me. One guy offered me his cell phone which evidently came with a reliable internet connection (unheard of in Ethiopia). Another guy wanted to talk to me in German but his whole concern was that I got everything I needed immediately. No talk of ‘you will remember me later, right’ or similar stuff. At the restaurant the waiter even ran off to another place to get us food and beer. Even the rooms were nice despite the lack of water or power sockets.

Last night it rained again and the entire place turned into a big mud castle. We had a lazy morning so the tour leaders could organize our guides for the Simien Mountains National Park (you can’t go anywhere without a guide in a NP) and I finally got to use the internet at the cafe when the power came back on at last. Before that I had already taken the offer of my new friend’s phone – again no money changed hands here. The net was superfast and although I still hadn’t heard back from the tour company about the next steps I finally got some stuff done. Basically they lost my business to a competitor.

There was a celebration in town, 20 years since something either related to a water dam or the conflict with Italy, nobody could explain this properly. A parade of kids and young people in sports or school uniforms holding banners were on their way along with guys on horses that wore frilly stuff around their heads and saddles. It was also market day and everyone seemed to be on their way there. Friendly faces and hellos all around.

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