Even in Egypt and Ethiopia we could not escape from these nerve-raking Xmas tunes we tread so much. “Holy Night Silent Night” was on the top charts at the hotel in Cairo and also the Paradise Lodge in Arba Minch figured that the Faranji cannot do without it. A decorated Christmas tree and fake presents wrapped in glossy paper dominated the dining room. Even so-called Christmas cookies were served.
Of course we enjoyed the grand, very comfortable rooms and excellent restaurant but it took us some time to get used to being among tour groups, mostly made up of a very affluent clientele. We missed the chatting and exchanges with other travelers that you find at more modest accommodations.
December 24th dinner was the first evening we had with our two travel companions to the Omo Valley, Sanita from Latvia and Yves from France. We had looked for travel companions using the Lonely Planet ThornTree Forum, mainly to cut down costs but also to have some company.
The 9 hour road trip from Addis Abeba to Arba Minch offered already great photo opportunities. No matter where we stopped, we drew a crowd. Especially a visit to a cattle market in a small village became unforgettable. People were genuinely excited to meet us and to communicate a few words through our driver Matthew. They loved to have their photos taken. There was none of the “Two Birr Photo Madness” that would accompany us for the coming week in the southern Omo Valley.