Having left Addis at 06.30, we find ourselves back here at 14.00. All was going well and I was just thinking about the lovely Indian meal we had the previous night – well, thinking that it was probably the last decent meal I would have for a while – when one of the car alarm lights appeared. An amber VSC TRC alarm flashed, accompanied by a high pitched sound, which thankfully stopped after a few minutes. The French written manual (you may recall that the car came from Belgium) seemed to suggest that there was one of 5 things that could be wrong but also seemed to suggest that it should be taken to an approved dealer. This is easier said than done. Puzzled by the problem, I was suspicious that the alarm had to relate to the fact that the garage in Addis had repaired the brakes and also carried out a service. So we phoned the garage, who claimed it had to be a ‘computer’ problem and suggested that we brought it back to be fixed over the next few days. Not happy with this suggestion – apart from anything else, Jeremy was due to operate in Gimbie tomorrow – I found a mechanic and asked him to check the car. He confirmed that it was safe to drive and that the brakes were fine. Having continued, with some reluctance, on our journey to Gimbie, we soon realised that this was the wrong decision. The car battery now seemed to be failing. So we turned around and headed back along the 2 hour journey to Addis.
The journey was really rather more eventful than I would have liked, with various car functions failing along the way. The battery continued to deteriorate and finally things like the windscreen wipers and windows and lights packed up. This was a little worrying as it started to pour with rain and vision became incredibly challenged. Still we continued – what choice do you have? – until we reached Addis. However, just as we were driving through, the car went into total failure and after several minutes of alarms and two rather anxious drivers, it came to a grinding halt. Luckily – yes, there’s always a luck side – we had a third battery in the car and were able to attach the jump leads (yes another stroke of luck) to the dead and alive battery. Having duck taped it all together and carefully balanced the bonnet on top of it all, we proceeded along the bumpy road to the garage.
It turns out that when the mechanics were doing the service or the brakes, they managed to disconnect the autonator, leaving us with a slowly dying battery that wasn’t being charged up. They re-attached it and then carried out a total electrical check of the car and for some reason also re-did the wheel bearings (I think these were a bit loose but to be honest I’m now out of my depth).
After many games of ‘bounce’ on my phone, we were finally given the all clear from the garage and we headed off to the Hilton as I decided to have a hair-cut. Well, Tony & Guy need to make an urgent trip out here. After being grunted at, I was taken to the wash room, where I expressed the need for hair conditioner. It appeared that this was translated to ‘no conditioner needed’ and so I was placed on the cutting chair with totally tangled hair. Having been returned to the wash basin for conditioning, I then met the hairdresser, who asked me how much he was to remove. He then proceeded to cut the required 4cm around the whole of my hair line, which to be honest would have been easier if he used a bucket. He protested about the different lengths of hair bit was not satisfied when I said that my hair was ‘shaped’ when cut in the UK. I was by now, thinking of the Tony & Guy experience back in the UK, where having a haircut is a totally enjoyable experience. Forget the offer of a cup of tea or even a glass of wine; I was lucky to have a word spoken to me. After cutting the 3cm round off, my hair was then attacked by 2 people, each with a hairdryer in hand. They managed to burn my scalp on a few occasions and then dry the entire moisture out of my hair. Having seen my head as a mop being scuffed along the floor, they proceeded to curl it under using a vicious metal rounded brush. I could hear the ends splitting at each tug through my hair. One side curled under but the other curled upwards – lovely look. The ‘pleasure’ of this haircut cost me 157 Birr (£6.00), which I guess is cheap enough but cannot be said to have been in any way a good experience.