We are in the spiritual home of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. We drove around town seeing the obelisks that the town is known for.   We are not allowed to see the other treasure, the Ark of the Covenant. It  is a mystery if it actually exists here or not!

We are better off taking a seat outside one of the juice bars and taking it easy. I’ve got a taste for the ‘espris’; a tall glass is filled with pureed fruit to make up the colours of the Ethiopian flag. The bottom level is papaya, the middle is avocado, and the top level either orange or mango. You then squeeze some lime juice over it and mix it up with a spoon.

The Landcruiser was covered all over in red dust after our mission yesterday. After I climbed up to fix the bag on the roof-rack I got my t-shirt covered in the stuff. On arrival in Axum, we had it washed down with a jet-spray.

I managed to get a CDMA device that allows me to get internet access anywhere I have phone reception. This makes life a lot easier. The speed is much quicker and we don’t have to wait around in cafes. We can now sit in the car and check our email in the middle of nowhere.

After we arrived we bumped into two young guys who helped me out when I was here in 2004. It was very odd to see them a little older and still hanging around the Africa hotel looking for business from tourists. One of them had progressed more than the other. He had moved to Addis and then returned to  fine tune his English and start a course at Axum University.

We ended up warming to him more and we got speaking about how he could help us in Mekele to sort our trip to the Danakil. He is a young guy who knows a lot about Axum and the Tigryan region of northern Ethiopia. We arranged to meet him the next morning to come with us to Mekele. On the way we would pass through Adwa and Adigrat, possibly taking in a few of the rock-hewn churches along the way.

Later on we had arranged to meet two guys, one French who lives in London and a Hungarian  we met in the Simien mountains. They arrived in Axum that day after their 11 hour journey in a truck carrying beer from Debark to Axum. They asked us for a lift when we first met them, but we left early on the 3rd whilst they were still out in the National park away from the main track. They were exhausted when we met them. After a few beers and some food we went on a bar-crawl around Axum. We had a good night and were feeling it the next morning as we were packing away the tent. The fried eggs sorted us out!

(An old pavoni coffee machine at our hotel in Shire. The Italians left something behind aside from the spag-bol you get everywhere here. it does makes a welcome change from the national food which is blow your head off hot!)