Ethiopia – Tiffany Coates (issue 4)

A landscape consisting of dry stone, rocks and dust, with small shrubs and bushes dotted around, the arid surroundings were interspersed with deep mud where the occasional river crossed, or at least would in the wet season when they’d contain water and were running. Maggie and I were riding two-up on Thelma, a 1992 BMW R80GS, and we were currently struggling with this incredibly unforgiving terrain in north-east Africa. Probably the toughest tracks I had ever attempted to ride and definitely the worst that Maggie had seen.

…We’d been studying our map of the area for some weeks by this point. Not in an earnest, needing to know as much as possible way, (although that’s the sort of studious impression we might like to give) but because there is only one useful map of this part of the world and it covers a hell of a lot more than just Ethiopia. It’s the classic Michelin map and no self-respecting African explorer would dream of setting off without one or maybe two. The cartographic boffins at Michelin, in their wisdom, have divided this immense continent of 47 countries and nine territories into just three maps. Each map features up to twenty countries, which means it might suffer somewhat in scale, but in reality, as many of the nations featuring often seem to have no more than 10 roads running across them, the lack of close detail doesn’t seem to matter too much anyway…

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