At the end we were exhausted and tired of the long days in the car, the constant hassle and unplanned expenses but these emotions passed quickly and what has remained is an incredible awe at the diversity and beauty of this country and respect for the people who have managed to remain in charge of their own destinies. They may be subsistence farmers but they are inventive, effective and industrious. They are fit and appear overall a healthy population. They are ethnically diverse but seem to rub along together peacefully, at least for now. Our rainbow nation could learn something from their rainbow nation on steroids. They have built some amazing architectural testaments to their culture and civilisation, not something you find in many African countries.
Their lives are simple but devout and they seem to hold strong and solid values which have yet to be visibly corrupted by western consumerism.
So they exploit tourists a little but really their lives have been so hard they need to be resourceful to scrape out a living and you cannot really blame them for asking you to pay for the privilege of a glimpse into their colourful world. My enduring memory is of weatherbeaten, handsome and dignified people with a smile in their eyes and a flair for understated kindness. Would we go back again? For sure! In fact the main regret of this epic journey was that it was too short to do justice to many of the places we visited. All would have been better served by more days to take our time and savour the sights and sounds. For this reason many people will just visit select areas and not attempt a whistle stop tour of the whole country like we did. Perhaps we were over ambitious but at least we left with a sense of the breadth and scope of the country. Next time we plan to drive there in The Beast! Ethiopia here we come.