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by SS at 4:10 pm on Sunday 21st February

For all those people who haven't seen Star Trek before (can't rmeember what series exactly), there is a race of aliens called the 'Ferengi'. In Ethiopia, the word ferengi refers to us: foreigners. I'd to describe what I call the ferengi switch, a phenomenon that seems to occur daily as we ride through the country.

I had the privilege yesterday of riding at the front of the tour for nearly the first 50 kilometres before I was overtaken by Jethro and Marcel, two fast riders. During this time I didn't hear a single 'you' (or multiple 'you's for that matter) nor was I the target for any stony airborn missiles. However, as soon as they had overtaken me, there was an instantaneous change in the attitude of the average pedestrian alongside the road. Suddenly everyone wanted to grab my attention ('hey, you') and the kids were back in their groove.

I can only surmise this occurred because there had now been enough time for the realisation that ferengi had just passed by to come to fruition. Alternatively, they were previously ignoring me because I am darker skinned and less likely to be considered a fully fledged ferengi. Indeed a lot of students (on their way home from school) asked me 'havashah' or something similar. Confused at this statement, I checked with our Ethiopian host who explained that it refers to the local people, they were asking if I was local.

What is certain though is that my skin colour makes zero difference once the first guys have gone past, whether it be because they are white or not. I've stopped acknowledging the hundreds of children we see daily who try to get my attention - they don't know what they are saying or why and I didn't decide to cycle through Africa with the intention of having a fly-by conversation with thousands of Ethiopian children! Luckily with the spare pair of headphones someone has lent me, this is now entirely feasible since I genuinely don't hear them. Once in a while they will get frustrated and throw a rock or two but this strategy seems to suffice.

There has been a bout of illness spreading through the camp - some kind of gastroenteritis (or stomach bug). It involves intense diarrhoea and stomach pain. So far about 60-70% of the tour has had or is having it and it seems like only a matter of time before it enters my body. I've been trying hard to stay away from those infected but when we're all living in such close proximity, sometimes it is almost impossible. Some brave riders have ridden entire days whilst ill but most have just ridden the trucks. If I contract the bug, I will have to ride in order to remain EFI. Another interesting challenge.

1 comment posted so far
Ash wrote at 5:41 pm on Sun 21st Feb -
Glad you made it to Addis! From previous blogs I know the communication after Bahar Dar untill you reach Addis is like the Shuttle losing comm for about 5 min when coming back to earth.You have plenty to see in Addis. Once again avoid veggies and uncooked food.Pictures plz

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