The thievery on the way to Washa Mikael
has apparently gotten bad enough that a vigilante cartel has sprung up. A group of old local men wearing makeshift uniforms (caps and gray jackets) and carrying hefty sticks approached us near the road. We paid 200 birr for one of them to act as an escort. I felt very secure and the trip was great. He added a lot of information and color to the trip. I think the net effect is that this site can now be safely visited.
My guide showed up early to inquire about the way, since he had not been there in ten years. The local boys managed to convince him that we should pay them to show us a shortcut. When I arrived I told him that was a bad idea on account of the muggings (thanks Bradt guide!). I started thinking of how to politely cancel the trip. Thankfully that’s when the old men approached us, corroborated my/your story, and seemed quite legit. We set out under their protection.
I can see how this site would not add much to a tour of all the country’s highlights, but anyone seeking an urban escape should be quite happy with the archaeological fun at the end of this pleasant hilly walk. Especially if they won’t have time to leave Addis during their trip.
2) I think my guide was a great choice for someone who wants get the most out of their trip but can’t pay the real pros. He’s especially good with the museums and churches in Addis and, by extension, probably a good companion for the historical and cultural sites around the country.
Over two whole days, my only concern was the Washa Mikael incident, when I honestly believe he was duped. But I was the one with the up-to-date book and the Nairobi-born cynicism.