Motorcycling in Africa: Kids

May 13, 2013 View Comments by

KidsThis morning I woke up already knowing which photo I would use for today’s blog. It is one of my favorites from our Africa trip, but there really aren’t 600 words of a story behind it. One morning in Ethiopia, Nick and I woke up to find kids outside our tent playing and spying on us. The night before we had set up camp far off of the road behind a knoll where no one could see us, but just like everywhere else in Africa, people come out of the wood work and find you. This morning was really cool because these kids wanted to play. We crawled out of the tent, stretched, and started playing. Nick was picking up the little ones and making them giggle, while I ran around chasing them. We didn’t need language to communicate; we were all just having fun. I grabbed a camera and snapped this photo. When it was time to go, one of the little boys wouldn’t let go of Nick’s leg as he was trying to pack up his bike. They didn’t want us to leave. They were not done playing. It was an amazing experience, especially considering that the stereotype for Ethiopia is that the kids throw rocks at over landers traveling through.

So, to set the context, here is an excerpt from my journal the day before with a little background story on how we had gotten to our campsite the previous night.

“It’s border-crossing time, but no one is in the booth. We wait for a bit, but then think about just leaving. Our Djibouti visa is only good for one entry. If we never get stamped out, it might help us when we enter again. We hop on the bikes, and as we are ready to go, a guy shows up. He makes us get our passports stamped. If we need to come back here for whatever reason, we’ll have to get a new visa. He asks for the paperwork for the bikes. We tell him we don’t have any. He says it’s impossible. I say it is possible because we are here, in the country, without it. We did it. He shakes his head that we are wrong, but with no papers to show, he waves us on. Ethiopia is easy. We get the stamp to come back in (our Ethiopia visa was arranged before we left the states. It’s good for multiple entries and two years). They never ask for bike paper work and we take off before they remember to think of it. It’s in the afternoon now; we have only a few bucks in Ethiopian currency. My plan is to make it to the main town some 200 miles away, change money, buy fuel, and then find a place to sleep. What I forget, though, is that Nick lost his satellite phone on this road, and wants to pick it back up. You see, Nick’s dad was somehow getting strange phone calls in the middle of the night back home in Michigan. The broken english was saying he had a phone that he found. The sat phone. Now a sat phone is worthless to whoever found it. It has a dead battery and they don’t even have a way to charge it, or know how to use it, but they want to return it for a reward. Nick, of course, wants to get it back because it’s worth $1,000. Now it’s getting dark, and we will be coming up on the town in 70k. We decide to camp and wait for the morning to play the “find the sat phone” game.

In the morning we wake up to this: kids curious of a tent and two motorcycles.

Tags: , , , , , Categories: Luke Swab

About the author

Commercial fisherman to pay the bills. Adventure Rider for the smile on my face. Documenting it all as proof that anyone can live this dream.