Saturday, 25 February 2012

25th February 2012

It has been a busy couple of days for me, juggling caring for Jaba with trying to get some work done, dressing Abdi’s foot and providing an evening of entertainment and nourishment for the boys.
Firstly, Jaba is getting a bit better. He’s not so pyrexic but he does still have quite a nasty cough – so much so that he managed to vomit all his feed and antibiotics up yesterday evening and so I had to give it by injection into his bottom. He really didn’t like that but now that his venflon is out, he has to have the incredibly bitter tasting antibiotics orally. I mix the syrup with a drop of Vimto to try and disguise the taste but it’s still pretty foul tasting. They don’t have any nice tasting paediatric medicines here; actually, I was pleased that we were even able to get hold of antibiotic syrup at all. Despite the taste, Jaba just about manages to swallow his medicine that I syringe into his mouth and hopefully, his chest will start to improve very soon.

Abdi’s foot is improving and seems to have drained a vast amount of pus. Mind you, the entire foot looks terrible. I think he may have some kind of fungal infection and so painted some anti-fungal stuff on it. We’ve also given him some antibiotics to take, although I’m not sure how regularly he takes them. Anyway, he at least, looks happier and isn’t limping so much. I’ll check it again tomorrow and perhaps give it a good soak again. I’ve told him to keep it clean but guess this isn’t particularly easy for him to do given that they don’t have any running water at the house he lives in and that he spends most of the time walking from one dusty place to another.

After enjoying a pasta Bolognese supper last night the boys had a fantastic evening watching Shrek. It was amusing to see which bits they understood and found funny – they loved the ginger bread man with the broken off leg and a walking stick, for example, and thought that the ring fight between Shrek and Prince Farquhar’s army was hilarious. I haven’t seen them enjoy a film so much. They went home with full tummies and very happy. They are coming on Sunday to help us set up the finish line and reception for the MW bike riders, who will arrive in Gimbie having cycled from Addis over the past 7 days. I have to say; rather them than me. It’s a very hilly cycle ride. Anyway, Abdi has coloured some paper plates for me, which spell out ‘Finish’ and ‘Welcome to Gimbie’ and so we need to somehow fix this at the hospital gate, where we will have a table containing  orange squash and water for the thirsty cyclists. I was also gong to cut up some oranges but I can’t find any to buy and the orange squash is made from a powder as this was all I could get – actually tastes OK.

This morning I had to sort out some clothes and a blanket for a little baby boy who has just been abandoned at the hospital. His mother (presumably single) is the allegedly 18 but probably, 15 year old that I mentioned a couple of blogs ago. She came into hospital having been in labour for a couple of days at home. When she arrived here she had an emergency caesarean section and initially appeared to be doing well. Sadly, she became unwell over the past few days, lost consciousness and tragically died this morning. She was probably septic following the prolonged labour and then having had a C/section, the infection became overwhelming. Her family are clearly devastated, not least of all because this was their last surviving child – they had two more children who died, although I am not sure what they died from and they are caring for 2 grandchildren from these deceased children. So I guess it’s not surprising that the fled from the hospital in a state of despair. They may come back for the baby once they have had time to adjust. We shall have to wait and see. A very sad story about yet another preventable death. I am doing quite a bit of work for my project in Ganji, the area that she came from and so I hope that we can change the attitudes and knowledge of pregnant women in this region and reduce the chances of this happening to others.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

23rd February 2012

I write this blog one handed as I sit with Jaba on my knee at 9.15pm. Jeremy is at the hospital, presumably doing a series of caesarean sections or something else surgical as I haven’t heard from him for a couple of hours.  There is a sick woman – well actually a young girl of 15 – who has become septic after her caesarean section. She arrived at the hospital a few days ago, having been in labour for a long while but was given an emergency CS. There is some thought that she may have cerebral malaria but I think this is a red herring. So perhaps she is even sicker than she was today – she was unconscious when I went to the ward, although her kidneys and heart were working well. She is young though.
 Abdi, one of the orphan boys has just left with a bottle of Vimto (some disgustingly sweet fruit cordial) to take his antibiotics with. He has an enormous boil on his foot between his big and next toe and his whole foot looks like it is rotting. I soaked it a few times and dressed it with iodine gauze and gave him some antibiotics to take for a few days. Oh and Jeremy donated yet another pair of socks to try and keep it clean. So filled with frankfurters, baked beans and bread, he has left to join the other 4 boys in what can only be described as a collapsing bed – yes, they all sleep together….somehow.

So Jaba sits here enjoying Mozart’s piano concerto number 21 in C. you may laugh but he really loves it and always falls asleep to it. Try it yourself; it’s fabulously relaxing. Poor little Jaba is spending a few days at the house as he has pneumonia again and they wanted to admit him to the male ward. Well, I thought he would be far better off here – less infections and constant care. He has a venflon in his vein -  taped securely with thick plaster that will hurt enormously when it comes off -  so that I can give him 4 hourly penicillin. He’s a bit grizzly but he’s coping with it all OK, despite coughing every 10 minutes. I guess that neither he or I will sleep much tonight.

Oh well, 10pm and still no Jeremy and supper awaiting – chorizo risotto tonight.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

22nd February 2012

At Ganji Health centre today, a woman arrived having been in labour for 12 hours before her contractions stopped. Thankfully Jeremy was at the clinic as well and so was able to start her on some Oxytocin to get the contractions going again. The staff in the health centres are not allowed to give Oxytocin to start contractions as there is a risk that the woman would have strong contractions but a stuck baby. After an hour of ‘malo, malo (please, please), and no analgesia, the woman pushed out a healthy baby boy. Well it was healthy after a bit of suction - using what looks like a turkey baster - to remove the plug of mucus firmly stuck in his throat.

It really is quite remarkable the way that babies are delivered here with such little equipment. The narrow delivery bed will either be just ¾ long, allowing the woman to place her feet at the bottom of the bed in order to balance her bent up legs, or as was the case today, it will have a large hole just below where the bottom goes, presumably to allow fluids to drain away underneath. Thankfully there was a bowl in the hole, which I think would prevent the new born baby form falling to the floor. There are no pillows, no sheets, and very little that can be used to mop up any fluid expelled during the delivery process – and boy, there is a lot of fluid swishing around (enough said on that matter for now). In the UK, it is perfectly acceptable to grab masses of blue tissue paper to mop up even the smallest of spillages.

Women don’t get any analgesia – there’s not a huge amount on offer even if they did ask for it – and surprisingly enough, they don’t make very much noise. When she cries out  malo, malo, you can be pretty sure that the baby will arrive within the next 30 minutes.

The woman remains in what is probably her only dress and by the time the baby has arrived, it will be rather soaked with all manner of fluids that are mentioned above. She remains in this dress and walks home with her baby wearing it, although it may be a bit drier by then. The nurse will have gloves for the delivery and there is a set of forceps and scissors for dealing with the cord. The cord is tied with string that has been soaked in an antiseptic solution. Once out in the big wide world, the baby is wrapped in the mother’s shawl, which absorbs much of the surrounding fluid. There is no oxygen, no proper suction and no facilities to warm the baby. Yet, thankfully, many babies do survive. Yes, the neonatal mortality rate is unacceptably high, as is the maternal mortality rate. But I am constantly amazed at what people do manage to achieve with such little equipment. Have we in the West all become just a little too reliant on technology?

Changed landscape 2 months before the rainy seasons starts

What are the chances of our bananas remaining on the tree and not being eaten by monkeys?!?!

21st February 2012

Last night’s meal would be envy of any chef claiming to cook au naturale. I produced my very own version of eggs Florentine by toasting our home made bread on our £5.00 camping toaster (it has some mesh on the bottom that diffuses the heat), then placing some of our home grown and carefully steamed Swiss Chard on the bread. This was followed by poached eggs that our chickens had laid that day and topped with a herb sauce using parsley and coriander that we have grown in the garden. Since this all had to be cooked using candle light as the whole of Gimbie had a power cut for 12 hours or more, I think you’ll agree it was a worthy achievement. Yes, I know it all sounds a bit like a scene from the good life – fun though.

Monday, 20 February 2012

19th February 2012

An American woman turned up at our house yesterday morning asking for Clara. I think our house has been identified as the Faranji house and so everyone gets sent to us. She was heading off to the orphanage in Gimbie that is run by someone called Monica. I believe that Monica was someone who used to work at the hospital and she set the orphanage up when it became apparent that there were many abandoned babies. So now the orphanage takes up to 10 babies and is managed by an Ethiopian man – presumably with some staff. The American woman was from an adoption agency in the States and was visiting 3 or 4 orphanages that she works with to find families for the babies. Apparently it takes around 1½ years for a baby to be adopted and the bureaucracy is getting tougher all the time. It also costs the adopting family $30,000 to go through the whole process. I asked the woman whether the orphanage took older children, thinking about the 5 street boys that we know. However, she said they only take children up to 2 years old. I guess that older children aren’t cute enough for the American market. I told her that I was concerned that these boys were not being cared for and often didn’t get any food for a couple of days but she simply replied that there was someone looking after them (which we have found is not happening) and that it was sad but nothing more could be done. Sorry boys, I tried to find you a home or something at least a bit better than what you have.
We were invited to another wedding yesterday and although we didn’t actually know the couple (one worked in the hospital administration department), we were persuaded to attend.  Just as the 12th person was climbing into the Adventist land cruiser, one of the nurses from female ward came running to the car to ask if anyone was blood group A Positive. Phew, I was thinking, I am B Pos and therefore not going to be dragged into this mercy mission. Three people in the car were suitable donors and started discussions about who had donated last and whether they could donate again. I asked what I thought was a sensible question; ‘who is the blood for?’ ‘What is her haemoglobin’ ‘What is her prognosis?’ After all, you have to be pragmatic about these things as there is no value in giving blood to someone who may not need it or who is unlikely to survive even if you do give it. Well no-one had thought to question why the blood was needed and so I suggested that Jeremy went with them to assess the situation. It turned out that there was a woman who had sadly given birth to a dead baby in the village, having fitted prior to the delivery. She had been brought into hospital where she bled a considerable amount but had stabilised over the past couple of days. Despite appearing to be recovering from her traumatic event, she then bled again and dropped her haemoglobin to 2g. For the non-clinical people out there, this level of haemoglobin is becoming incompatible with life – ie nothing to carry the oxygen around to those rather important organs like the heart and brain. So yes, she did need some blood and she needed it rather urgently. So we left the transfusion team behind to donate and went on to the wedding without them.  In case you are wondering, there is no blood transfusion bank here and if someone needs blood, the relatives are asked to donate. If they are not the right blood group, friends or staff are asked to donate.

The wedding was fairly typical of the previous 2 that we have been to, although the newly arrived faranji that was in the car with us was quite alarmed when she saw a sheep being hauled into the truck ahead of us, still kicking and objecting strongly to the string around its neck and feet. Yes, the sheep was part of the wedding party. We did the obligatory tour around the town, beeping the horn as loud as possible – and this is often not that loud as most car horns have worn out – and singing and dancing in the car to attract as much attention as possible. As is always the case, the front car hosted the video cameraman, who bumped along capturing all this merriment and madness. Apparently, having a car full of Faranjis at this point pushes the status of the wedding up a notch and so it was important that we were paraded through the town.

When we finally arrived at the reception, having first been to the bride’s house for more dancing and music, and then the groom’s house for yet more, we were taken to the seats right at the top of the reception to sit with the bride and groom. Feeling rather embarrassed about being in this position of honour, I was very relieved when the blood transufers called to ask if we could pick them up. When we arrived back with the rest of the party, now proudly displaying their over-plastered arms, we were told of how a slightly peaky woman stumbled before them outside female ward. They heard a thump and looked over at the woman to see a her placenta drop to the floor. I guess she had arrived at the hospital because the placenta had got stuck after delivering her baby. Who knows how far she had travelled.

So we all sat to enjoy the injera, and for me, vegetables, that were served at the party. I was just wondering when the sheep slaughter had taken place when someone brought round a sharp knife for each of the guests. Whilst we were taxi driving people to the reception, the sheep had been slaughtered, the head had been given to the new in-laws and now everyone was being invited to cut off their bit of meat from the section of carefully draped sheep that was being brought round. I passed on this part of the celebrations, not least of all because the meat was then eaten raw. Apparently a great delicacy.

After the reception we piled around 30 people into the Adventist and our car and took them back to the hospital where we heard that the woman with the low haemoglobin had died shortly after starting the blood transfusion.

Friday, 17 February 2012

17th February 2012

I’ve had a busy couple of days visiting health centres and health posts and showing some MW visitors around these community projects. It’s quite an odd feeling being the ‘resident’ here, but it’s fun to show people what I have been up to over the past few months and to introduce them to all the people that I work with. I took the visitors to a typical ‘restaurant’ in one of the villages and ordered them injera and shiro (a ground bean mixture that you eat with injera). I think they quite liked it, although I suspect they may have enjoyed the experience of having it more than the actual taste. I guess it wouldn’t be your first choice of order at a restaurant in London.
 Injera being made in the restaurant

 Injera and Shiro (the bread is added especially for the faranjis)

One of the key things that came up in discussions with the health centre staff was the difficulty of transport for patients. As I have said before, there is a bus that goes form the villages to Gimbie but this takes around 2 hours and you may have to wait a few hours for one to arrive. They are also not particularly reliable and have very thin tyres and so you it’s not the safest journey for a pregnant woman. Indeed, along the journey back, we saw a bus that had clearly taken a corner too fast and was now in a ditch. Who knows what happened to the passengers. The other problem with the bus is that the driver is reluctant to take anyone who is ill and certainly anxious about taking pregnant women in labour and so they may to pay a considerable amount of money to get a lift. A normal bus fare is 40 Birr (£1.60) but if you are in any way ill or in labour, you can get charged 1000 Birr (£40.00) Given that most people in the rural areas earn around 600-700 Birr a month, the bus fare is unaffordable.  I’m not sure what can be done to improve the situation, but think that it should be a priority area for organisations like MW.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

14th February 2012

I’m pleased to say that I am getting back to my project with great speed. Today I drove to Homa health centre (about 1 ½ hours away) where I saw 32 women for their risk assessments. I worked with Lensa, the clinical nurse there and two other visitors came along to see what it was like in the health centre. We were exhausted by the end of the day as we didn’t get to stop for any food until 3pm. Thankfully, Lensa had prepared some food in her house for us and so we gulped that down before returning to Gimbie in the car with one pregnant woman who ruptured her membranes 7 days ago and her mother. She has now been safely deposited into Jeremy’s care, where she was started on a drip to induce her. Interestingly, around 15% of the women that I see are at ‘high risk’ and require a hospital delivery. Today, there were 2 breeches, 2 ruptured membranes and one woman who unbeknown to her, was carrying twins. She wasn’t too happy about this as she already had 4 children but she was at least relieved to hear that they appeared to be well on the scan. Oh and one woman went into labour with her first child and so was delivering her baby as we left the health centre.

 The 'Waiting room'

Tomorrow I am going to a health post, which will be even more rural than the health centre. I tend to find the women to be shorter in height and to have had far fewer antenatal care visits. So that should be interesting.

We have some Maternity Worldwide visitors from the UK arriving tomorrow and we are hosting them ie giving them supper, taking them out to health centres etc etc. So Makabe is busy organising the meals for them. We have decided to make a root vegetable frittata from the Hugh Fernley Whittingstall vegetarian cook book that my parents sent over. Unfortunately, the only root vegetables Makabe could find were carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes but I’m sure it’ll be very tasty anyway. We also had to buy the eggs as the chickens have been laying our eggs in next door’s bed. I was so embarrassed when he came to bring the eggs to us that I said he could keep the eggs – it was the least that I could do!

Monday, 13 February 2012

11th February 2012

As promised, below are a couple of photos of Jaba. He’s a very chirpy little chap (actually, not so little), although he is recovering from a nasty chest infection, which he had over a week ago and needed hospitalisation and intravenous antibiotics.

Good news on the Jaba family front; Makabe’s other children are referring to him as their brother and are really quite protective of him. So I think this really was the best solution all round.

Friday, 10 February 2012

10th February 2012

I spent much of the day unpacking the masses of clothes and goodies brought back with us, as well as the things that we had packed in the car. The boys were itching to come over and so I said they could come after lunch. They were very excited when I gave them each one of the football shirts and shorts that Sue had managed to get hold of. Within seconds, they had stripped off on the veranda with eagerness to get their new clothes on. We decided that they would be called the Gimbie Warriors, although I’m not sure that they really understood what I was on about. Thankfully, the ball that Karen sent in the post had arrived and so off they ran to the volleyball pitch to have a game of football.

Later on, they got a pair of trainers each, which judging from the state of their feet, arrived just in time.
Tomorrow, Jaba is coming over for the morning and so I am planning to give him a nice bubbly bath and dress him in some new clothes. Yes, I will take lots of cute pictures of him and put them on the blog.

9th February 2012

Happy Birthday Mum!

After an uneventful journey from Awassa, we arrived in Addis, where we stayed in our usual hotel, the Lion’s Den, for the night. We packed the car up that evening as we were heading off at 6.30 the next morning. We had an enormous amount of luggage, plus Camilla’s bags (which were even bigger than ours) and so piled them all on top of the previously mended roof rack and tied them on with every strap that we had. The road back to Gimbie has become even more bumpier than it was last time but we managed the journey in about 11 hours.

It was strange to be back here, but it was really quite pleasant as everyone was so welcoming and pleased to see us. Makabe had put some flowers in water on the table and roasted us some fresh coffee and the orphan boys all arrived to help us with our cases. Many of the hospital staff also came to help us carry things into the house. Word gets around quickly and so we also had a few phone calls from people welcoming us back. So it really did feel like coming ‘home’, even if home is just a temporary place.  After we unpacked, Makabe brought Jaba over to say hello. He has certainly grown in the few weeks we have been away and his facial features have changed a bit.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

7th February 2012

After a lovely night’s sleep, we headed off to Awassa with the idea that we would stop here for the night before finally getting to Addis. You may remember that I was keen to buy some coffee form the Dilla area as this is said to be of a high quality. Well, we were in luck and spotted some boys along the road selling plastic plates full of coffee beans. Having stopped the car to buy some, we were met by 7 teenagers all trying to get us to buy their coffee. Such is their desperation to sell the beans that they all try to thrust the beans into the car in the hope that you will choose their plate. So we ended up buying 2 lots and having a couple of handfuls of beans spilled into the car. The only problem is that they don’t have a bag to put the beans in and so I had to empty the things form my rucksack and fill this up. Now all I need to do is find some plastic bags – not as easy as you might think.

Having arrived in Awassa at 1.30, we checked into the Haile Selassie Hotel resort as we had heard that this was a nice place to stay. It was originally Haile Selassie’s own hotel and I think he used to come and stay here quite often as it is situated right on the lake. I have to say, it really is an amazing place. It has a Russian feel to it, with vast corridors and seating areas where no-one actually sits and plenty of glitzy lights hanging form the ceiling. Many of the surfaces are marbled and the windows are enormous to maximise the fantastic view over the lake. So having loaded our things into our lovely room, with a balcony looking over the lake, we headed off to explore the resort. The lake is packed with exotic birds and to one side there is a swimming area where there were a dozen boys having a whale of a time in the water. Despite being from about aged 7-16, it was clear that none of them could actually swim but they kicked and splashed to their hearts content. It was a bright sunny day and you could just see Arber Minch some mile or two across on the other side.

6th February 2012

Well as you might imagine, things didn’t go exactly according to plan. The car did arrive on the Kenyan border but unfortunately, the transportation was a rather low truck with a large metal bar along the top that prevented our car from being loaded with its roof rack. So the allegedly indestructible Rhino roof rack had to be removed and the tyres had to be deflated in order to fit the car on the truck.  So much for the idea of preventing further damage to our newly repaired car.  So despite receiving a phone call from the lorry drivers at 8am, we didn’t actually manage to get the car across the border until 12.38; just 8 minutes after the border closed for lunch for 1½ hours. One of the key difficulties arose from the need to fix the roof rack back onto the car. Having found a hill to unload the car from the lorry, once the tyres had been re-inflated it soon became apparent that the roof rack had been broken, probably due to some force over getting it off in the first place. So now we had a car with a broken roof rack that wouldn’t fit into the car. The lorry drivers went to the town to find some glue (our superglue had exploded in the boot of the car, having been crushed by the weight of the luggage) and then mixed the glue with some ash to create what appeared to be an effective repair.  Then they attempted to fix the rack to the roof but found that there were 3 bolts missing. We brought the car back over to Ethiopia, however, and tied the rack onto the roof using large cable ties that the driver had in his car. This seemed to work well and so we proceeded to passport and customs, where we were given 6 months grace to keep the car in Ethiopia.
Success at last!
So now we plan to use the car for 6 months and then ship it back to the UK via Djibouti.

Having finally been re-united with the car, and pretty exhausted from the 35C heat, we headed off back up north towards Addis. 

We stopped in Yabello for the night, in what was a very nice motel with the luxury of a hot shower. A group of Belgian tourists arrived shortly after and filled up all of the remaining rooms – lucky that we got there when we did. Having had pasta with vegetables for the previous 2 meals, I needed a change and so had pasta with tomato sauce. There isn’t a great deal of choice and I’m still not prepared to eat meat from a non-star hotel restaurant. I have developed a taste for the Gouda (pronounced ‘Gooda’) wine, and so this made the meal much more exciting. Actually, it occurred to me that I was possibly getting more calories from wine than from food. Never mind, when we get to Gimbie I am going to have a field day with all the cheese we brought over. Although we slept under nets, I seem to have picked up one mosquito bite ….. and I’m not sure what the altitude is here. Hmmm. 

Sunday, 5 February 2012

5th February 2012

Well we have had quite an enjoyable trip to Moyale over the past two days. Our driver is a very pleasant 65 year old Amharic speaking man, whose English is just about good enough to allow us to have some superficial conversation. It’s lovely having someone who can communicate with the locals, not least of all when we, along with 7 other vehicles got stopped by the police for having gone down a ‘no entry’ road – well the sign was barely visible. It was really amusing to watch though. The policeman started talking to the first driver and with his ticket book in one hand and pen poised in the other. He was then faced with the 2nd driver (our driver) and then the 3rd, 4th, 5th and finally, there were 7 drivers, all of whom had made the same mistake. The policeman attempted to book all of them but each time he got his pen to the ticket, they would all start talking, gesturing about the injustice of it and then laughing, presumably trying to get him in a better mood. After about 10 minutes of chat, back patting, hand shaking and much smiling, the policeman was defeated and with his book back in his pocket, he gave all of the drivers their driving licences back and waved them on their way.
Apart form having been in the army for 29 years (including having served in Haile Selassie’s army), our driver had been a tour operator for the past 15 years and so he took us to some interesting places along the journey. We stopped off at a small village where there were dozens of people swimming naked in the lake, women washing clothes, men fishing, and the most ugliest, almost human sized birds hanging around for any dropped fish. 

We were also taken to a resort that used to belong to Haile Selassie and was situated on the edge of the enormous lake Langona. After this, we had a walk around the lake at Awassa and stopped off at a coffee bar on the water’s edge where a young man balanced nimbly on a small raft to cut down some reeds; presumably to sell for roofing or perhaps to make furniture.

We finally arrived at Dilla around 6pm where we found a room for the night. It wouldn’t exactly meet any of the requirements for a star rating, particularly as you almost electrocute yourself when attempting a hot shower, which by the way, was futile anyway as it didn’t work. The wiring to the shower was, to say the least, very dodgy and I swear I got a tingle from the tap that was placed so high that I could neither turn it on or off. After a quick, cold shower, I divided the toilet paper rations that were left on the bed for us, providing just 9 squares each. Thankfully, I have developed an iron bladder since needing to travel in Ethiopia and visiting the toilet has become an infrequent event. 

Apparently, this is a large coffee growing region and according to a coffee dealer that we met at supper, the coffee is of such excellent quality that it is often mistaken for Jamaican Blue Mountain. I did try to defend the Gimbie coffee region as there was clearly a competition for the ‘best coffee’ emerging. But the coffee dealer was adamant that this was most definitely where it’s at when it comes to coffee. We didn’t manage to find any being sold along the roadside the next day but will look for it on our way back in a couple of days time. After some amusing conversation with the coffee dealer, we tucked into our pasta and vegetables, which seemed pretty edible, although this may have been helped by the rapid consumption of red wine that came beforehand. Actually, we drank Ethiopian red wine as this was all that was on offer and for the first time, I would have to say that it was very drinkable – it came from Awash, which is in the south-east of Ethiopia.

We set off early the next day, stopping for breakfast of a dry sponge cake and coffee about 2 hours down the road. 
The art is to drink the chai (spicy tea) without stirring in the mound of sugar at the bottom of the cup

As you go further south, it becomes more desert-like, with camels along the side of the road instead of goats and cows. There is also a deeper red colour in the soil and every now and again, the soil becomes completely white – presumably chalk. The red and white termite mounds, which are often as tall as the houses, are really quite dramatic, with the white ones looking like sculptures.

 We arrived at Moyale in time for some lunch at the hotel. This is a bit more upmarket than last night’s accommodation, although would still fail the star rating, partly on the basis that the taps for the wash basin don’t work and when you pour water down the sink, it all leaks out onto the floor as it isn’t properly plumbed in. But this is Ethiopia; even brand new buildings like this one aren’t put together properly and so it is common to find a door hanging off as one or two screws are missing, a tap that rotates totally when you turn it on, or a socket hanging out of the wall as it hasn’t been fixed firmly. They try, but things just aren’t fully functioning, even in the smarter places.

We have made contact with the truck driver who has our car and he anticipates arriving at Moyale (Kenyan side) this evening so we plan to cross the border in the morning to meet him.