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Ethiopia Tech Challenge Day 5: Team Foot and Team Donkey Face Off on the Journey to Limalimo

Oct 20, 2017

Day 5 | Tuesday, 17 October

8am Tuesday morning we set off and packed our day bags with water, rain coats, a packed lunch from the chef and an armed guard packing an AK-47 slung across his shoulders. All of us kept finding ourselves at the barrel end and swiftly moving out of the way!

The scenery was breath-taking, the weather was also the best we had seen (James kept telling the group he ordered it specially) and not long into our walk we got a very special experience. Dejen walked us to a place where we could get up close to the Geladas, and all of us managed to get within 4 or 5 ft. watching them clean and groom each other. We waited at that spot, watching them for around 20 minutes before continuing our hike.

Everyone had their moments: Aleh seemed to keep putting his feet in to streams as we crossed them. The rest of us found this particularly amusing as he had decided to take the hike in his Adidas sneakers. Second was Ayman whose muscles started severely cramping up, landing him on the floor next to 2 rabid dogs. AK-47 man to the rescue (don’t worry he didn’t shoot)! Christian started stretching out Ayman’s leg, while James searched for the Nurofen (ibuprofen). Aleh grabbed Ayman’s bag and the rest of the team jumped in to help, hunting for a walking stick for him. We continued and only minutes after we had another man down: Andrew also had cramp. Dejen stepped in, assuring us that it was only another 2 hours to go, and not to worry. The team soldiered on, everyone helping each other out as the terrain got harder and harder. Steep inclines and uneven ground are not so easy to traverse for anyone, let alone the walking wounded!

After 90 minutes we asked Dejen how far we had left to go, and yet again he told us 2 hours. At this point we started to question his time keeping skills. Water was running out and so were the jelly babies. Things were getting desperate and we started slowing down.

It was then that Dejen made a great suggestion: Does anyone want to go on a donkey for $10? Before the words were out of his mouth Ayman had given him the money, and Andrew, Christian and Aleh shortly followed suit! The only question now was where do we get the donkeys from? We walked for another few hundred metres into a village and sat for lunch, while Dejen and our scout argued and haggled with some locals to get hold of some mules and people to lead them!

As you can imagine the EMEA team were really ripping in to the US team at this point, noting that they simply couldn’t hack it. Aleh, not enjoying being given all the grief soon changed his mind and announced that he would finish the hike on foot, representing the US team! It took some time to arrange the mules, but when they arrived Ayman was first up and trying to get on that donkey!

The UK Team & Aleh (Team Foot) set off with Dejen trekking up what must have been the biggest mountain in the hike, and were absolutely exhausted by the time they reached the top (wishing they had also chosen the donkey option). Team Donkey had started making progress and could be seen by the others at the top of the mountain. To the donkey team’s surprise (expecting to be able to relax finally), they had to walk for at least 45 minutes to flat ground for the donkeys. To add to the complications, Andrews donkey wouldn’t stop farting and Ayman’s donkey refused to take the lead constantly turning back and circling round. Despite being afraid of water, Christian’s lead the pack. What made matters worse, was that Andrew’s donkey didn’t seem to like Ayman’s, and constantly tried to push it off the mountain. Team Donkey saw local kids doing back flips, a sheep giving birth and similarly to Dejen, the scout kept telling them that the lodge was just around the corner – surprise, it wasn’t!

Back with Team Feet, a surprise was waiting at the top of the big hill – more Geladas and some stunning views yet again. We continued walking, with Andy and Aleh flailing at this point and almost completely out of water. Dejen, thankfully, reassured us yet again that there were only 2 hours left to go. Before long it became clear we were not going to make it all the way to the lodge without help, and a plan was put in place to get to the nearest road and be picked up. Funnily enough the nearest road was 2 hours away. The good news is we did eventually make it with the LimaLimo van picking us up, bringing water and hope back to us all.

We were sure Team Donkey must have arrived earlier and were enjoying a cool beer or similar at the lodge already. Luckily for Team Foot we found them as we drove past them going up the hill to the lodge.

Christian waved as we passed in the van assuming he was just waving at locals, only to be stunned to see it was Team Foot about to beat them to the finish line! His face just dropped while the rest of us couldn’t stop laughing!

The US Team now believes the UK Team cheated, but thankfully for us we can blame Aleh. Either way – we all ended up winning in the end with a fresh beer, incredible views and a working, flushable toilet!