Travel: Literally lost: 65
Sunday 31 January 1999
Mules in Soddu were hard to come by, but the Governor was helpful and found me two riding mules and four for baggage. I expected that at this season we would have a wet and uncomfortable journey, but it did not worry me. What I should have hated was the prospect of travelling any further by motor transport, which even under favourable conditions I dislike; with mules I felt the next two months should be rewarding.
Leaving Soddu on 1 April we visited Lake Abaya in the Rift Valley, then headed back to the mountains, arriving three days later at Chenchia, a small town high up in open country. Below it, in downward succession, were belts of giant heath, thickets of bamboo, and forests of juniper and hagenia. My route to Konso, which I was particularly anxious to visit, would take me through Bulchi, and the Governor at Chenchia assisted me by ordering fresh mules for the onward journey. In the past it had been possible to hire the same animals for an entire journey; now, thanks to the introduction of motor transport, the old system had broken down and it was necessary to replace the mules every few days.
It took seven days, travelling five or six hours a day, to reach Bulchi. Sometimes we camped near a village in the mountains, sometimes in the thorn bush country below. The "little rains", always heavy in the south, were now really under way, and for the next week we had torrential rain every day, with thunder and gale-force winds, though fortunately the worst of it was after dark. When the sun came out after a storm the world looked beautiful, rain-washed and sparkling.
Bogale and Gasha were both hard-working, never grumbling about the wet, and always ready to help with the mules. Bogale was a forceful character and assumed control of the caravan; but unfortunately he was subject to unpredictable bouts of ill temper succeeded by sulks. Gasha, however, accepted his tantrums uncomplainingly and cheerfully produced meals, sometimes under seemingly impossible conditions.
Literally Lost 64: The book was Herodotus's `Histories'. The action took place near the city of Caspatyrus in Pactyica (modern India). The winner is S Roberts of Bath.
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