Monday, October 20, 2014

Salt Caravans

One hotel change (mold, leaking walls, dirty sheets, non-locking door), one room change (roaches), and one sad little phone call to my mom later, I gave up and checked into a room which could be a dirty tomb and got drunk at the bar downstairs. 

I woke up early in the morning, a little dirtier than when I went to sleep, and met up with my car going to Danakil.  My co-travelers now included an older man from China, Shong, and two German students, Phillip and Christoff.  We took a car down, down, deep into the valley’s of the earth.  The green mountains and mules were replaced with sand and camels.  The weather became oppressively hot.  Do you remember that Twilight Zone episode where the man wakes up from a coma in which he was dreaming about the world becoming so cold that everyone died to find that the world was moving closer to the sun and everyone was going to boil to death?  Moving from the icy rain in the Simien Mountains to the Sulfur lakes in the hot valleys of Danakil felt like that. 


We stopped for a lunch of pasta and mango juice in a little village in the middle of nowhere.  25 other travelers met up with us, most from Israel.  The kids asked for money and water bottles.  Then they showed us how Ronaldo was soooo much better than Messi.  Soccer is the language of the people.  And I’m a mute.

Soccer Talk 

We boarded our 9 cars and caravanned deep into the Danakil desert.  We stopped at what looked like a large lake and were told that underneath the very shallow lake was salt, as far as the eye could see and as deep as several miles.  Salt was loaded onto camel and mule caravans to be taken back into the city.  I waded out onto the salt and was surprised to feel it smooth and completely flat beneath my feet.  I watched the camels bring the salt back as the sun set.

Salt Caravan
Salt Caravan

Salt on the back of a camel
We drank tea and ate rice and greens for dinner in an even smaller, hotter village.  We slept on extremely comfortable straw cots in the open air and let the dessert breeze drift us to sleep.

Straw Cots

Where we slept

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