Friday, January 29, 2010

A Beautiful Drive to the Marketplace in Duke

I listened to John Bytheway to go to sleep last night and slept very well.  I woke up once due to a cough from this cold that I have had but was able to get back to sleep after I got a drink a glass of water.  When I awoke at 6am, I was very sore from driving all day yesterday and being cramped in that little truck. We drove 600 km (370 miles) about nine hours. The two lane road was paved all the way but we shared it with everything from big slow moving trucks to squirrels.  

Drowsy driving isn’t as big of an issue here because you have to stay alert all the time.  Even then you usually get an adrenalin rush a couple of times an hour as something or someone runs out in front of you. Today we only drove 400km (250 miles) in about six hours.  I am very grateful that 40 plus years ago the Italians built that road. It is amazing that it has held up so well for so long.  I guess the mild climate and lower traffic allow it to last a long time.

The road winds through the Ethiopian highlands in the south of the country.  It is some of the most beautiful land that I have ever seen.  The first couple hundred kilometers is lush green mountains that grow all sorts of fruits, pineapple, mango, banana, false banana, etc. The second half of the drive reminded me of Utah’s Dixie.  Deep red soils contrasted beautifully with the green trees and shrubs.  Like most of Ethiopia everything that was even remotely edible had been grazed on.  Irrigation could really make that area blossom and decrease the seasonal flooding that they have.

We headed to the market in Duke to see what the cattle look like.  We asked villagers directions to the market and meandered through the city paths until we finally found the market about a mile west of town.  In contrast to the run down mud huts, the large market place was impressive.  The whole market had a four foot stone wall with a railing on top of it.  There was a separate yard complete with shade for each of the species, sheep, cattle and camels.  The sheep and goats were sold by the kilogram so they had some scales that they used to hang them to get their weight.  There was a cattle scale also but it looked like it had never been used.  The cattle are sold as a total dollar amount.  



When we first arrived, we saw all of the sheep and goats being sold but couldn’t see anything else.  When we asked around, they said that the cattle gathered to the east, and some of the buying went on there before the cattle arrived at the market.  We drove over and looked at the cattle and camels for sale.  Most of the cattle were on the thin side, but not near as bad as the ones that we had purchased last summer.  We found a couple that looked pretty good so I explained to Abera what I was looking for and why those particular ones met my criteria.  We met a couple of brokers and exchanged numbers with them.  It looks like we can save about 1000 birr/animal and get better quality animals.  I am glad that we drove down, even though it was a long drive.




On our way back, we stopped to meet with Girma, the manager of the Boran Breeding Center.  They have a few animals for sale, but they don’t have any of the 1st calf heifers which we want.  We had lunch at the restaurant.  It cost 39 birr ($3.25) for the three of us to eat. Abera and Emebet both had ingera with different sauces and he ordered spaghetti for me.  The sauce tasted like really spicy key wot, not impressive.

We dropped off Emebet at her apartment in Awasa, then headed to Shashamene.  We were almost to the hotel when a guy ran right out in front of our vehicle.  Fortunately, Abera was driving slowly and was able to screech to a stop.  Abera was really shocked and asked if it was his fault.  I assured him that it was not and that he had done great.

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