The morning took us to another Karo village on the search for Terri's
husband. We were out of luck again because we were told that he was
off somewhere. When we arrived at the village we found many of the
men talking in the shade of a large tree, rifles propped up close
by. After the last Karo village, I decided to leave the camera in
the car with Teriku. I wasn't worried about it being stolen, I was
just tired of the hassle. I figured that the camera would attract
This village was much more pleasant then the previous one. It was
not so common for tourists to come here. Firew arranged
some dancing for us. A line of six young men faced a line of
six women. The dancing involved jumping and stamping on the
ground. The men didn't seem very confident in what they were
doing which was later explained to us by Firew. The women
were all married but to men who were not there. The dance is
performed between married couples so the young men shouldn't really
be doing the dance. It wasn't a major problem they, just found
Unsurprisingly, people got roped in, notably Terri. She had failed
to find the man in the photo but she found herself a new husband.
Question is will he be able to find his way to the Computer
Science Department at Mekelle University? This was the address she
provided when asked - he could speak some English. We're expecting
not but we would love to see what she does if he did come.
As we left the village I had started to feel much more positive
about the Karo people. The children gathered around the cars as we
left, urging the drivers to make revving sounds by calling
'ruum, ruum'. The children were all smiles when Teriku and
There was no road at all anymore. Even the track seemed to have
disappeared. Sand would be thrown up somehow onto the windscreen.
For particularly difficult patches the second car would wait
for the lead car to be clear of the problem area before attempting
the same route or taking a modified route depending on what
had happened previously. We stopped off in the scrub land for
a bit of lunch - some rice that Luleet had cooked earlier. This
was really the middle of nowhere and people are sitting down
eating and having a cup of tea. Yet, we were passed by some cars
from other tours so it would appear that, although the track was
not obvious to us, it did exist.
A little further down the track we passed two Karo men carrying
rifles on their backs. They were driving cattle in the same
direction as us and our progress was slowed as a result. The
cattle had kicked up clouds of dust. We didn't realize at the time
but this is probably what the Karo men wanted. Sitting in the back
seats, something prompted me to turn round and check the rear door.
Whether it was a noise or a change in the flow of air, I knew
something was hapenning. There was one of the Karo men, creeping
behind the car, having managed to get the small rear door open.
In his hand he had a foot stool. I lunged across the back of the car
to grab the handle and close the door. The handle wasn't too strong
but it held. I was a bit disappointed not to be taking some
Karo fingers as souvenir. You wouldn't find those in a tourist shop.
Tadesse kept driving, it probably wasn't a good idea to stop and
we couldn't really do much about anything. The Karo are by their
nature thieves. We wondered whose stool/head-rest he had managed
to steal. Once we had a chance to check what of our stuff remained
it appeared that nothing had been stolen. The stool he was carrying
must have been his own. This seems a bit odd if you are raiding and
he had done very well to get the door open. They're not easy at the
best of times. My opinion of the Karo in general dropped once again.
A few kilometres further, the lead car became stuck in some water.
There seems to be no water around but every now and then there are
some furrows cut into the ground containing water. The second car
drove around the problem and could tow the lead car out. I spent some
time looking around for more of the shifty Karo buggers but there was
no reason to expect to see more.
We reached our destination, Mago National Park, mid-afternoon. It
was another camp session. The campsite had no showers but it did
have a small river running directly by the campsite. Before we
did anything we took a short walk up some hills to the Mago
headquarters where we could get a soft drink or a beer. The
temperature was soaring and the drink was gratefully received.
Having returned to the site, we had all got one swimming gear and
were into the river. Firew had confirmed that it was safe. What he
hadn't told us about were the fish. Every ten seconds or so, a scream
could be heard as a little fish decided to nibble on you rather
than the river bed. Some of the fish were even treated to a
torrent of obscenities from the normally good natured Jackie. This
was more amusing for myself and rob because we had moved to the
deepest part that had a sandy floor. The fish didn't seem to be
present here. Something I thought I would never see in Ethiopia was
a crab. Daniel found one by the edge of the river. It looked just
like the crabs you would see in the sea.
We returned to set up the tents, unfortunately with the unwanted
assistance of what appeared to be a random. He was in fact our guard.
All visitors are assigned a guard for protection. Ours was a bit
annoying for trying to talk to us too much. I think we were just
suffering hassle overload, he probably wasn't as annoying as many of
the people we had met so far.
One of the good things about the guard was his radio. Firew and he had
been talking about something that had come over the radio earlier. It
was something of interest to us so Firew came over to tell us with
a big smile on his face. Recently, two cars of ferenji had been
kidnapped in Nechisar national park - where we had been a few days
earlier. We all knew that they were in no danger unless there was
some kind of medical need. In fact, we even talked about what would
have happened if we had been kidnapped. We probably would have tried
to get the hang of the village life for a few days and take lots of
photos and learnt their language. The ferenj had been kidnapped for
a specific reason. The American who had bought the park was due to be
visiting the park that day. We assume that the people who live in the
park wanted to make their displeasure known. We can only assume that
he has imposed limits or asked them to move. It's a difficult one
because it's a split between preserving the animals and allowing
people to carrying on working and living in the ancestral lands.
Firew entertained us with some other stories of near misses. By the
way, we think that the wrong cars were hijacked.
Around the campsite were monkeys and baboons. Cicadas, or whatever
the noisy insect is, were making noise in the trees. After dinner
the insects had started to bite deep and frequently so we were
pleased when a breeze started to drive them away. The
breeze should have warned us of what was to come. This wasn't
Tigray and it's not unthinkable that it might rain. The previous
two nights we had very minor showers. There was a lot of noise but not
much really happening. This time it was different. The heavy rain
sent us scurrying for our flysheets. Even though we were under trees,
the rain soaked us and everything we had washed in the river
previously and put out to dry. We all settled down to a damp night's
In the morning Firew excitedly asked if we had heard the lion. The guard
told us that he had come quite close and could be heard clearly. Of
course, none of us had heard him.