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In Ethiopia with a Mule by Dervla Murphy

In Ethiopia with a Mule (1968)

by Dervla Murphy

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I don't know how I managed to leave this in "to read" when I actually read it several years ago. It is one book I would gladly read again. Dervla Murphy travels through Ethiopia alone, relying on the kindness of strangers and her impressive ability to drink people under the table and ride off into the sunrise the next morning. While this journey is physically taxing, and Murphy is robbed three times and often exhausted, she ends with the same cheerful optimism and quietly cynical love for fellow man that make all her books a joy to read. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Adventure in Abyssinia

Published in 1968, this is a remarkable account of one woman's trek of over 1000 miles through Ethiopia. Accompanied only by her trusty mule, Jock, she tells of their adventures crossing the inhospitable terrain: ascending mountains, swimming across rivers, and the swamps and jungle around Lake Tana. The narrative, of course, is brought to life by her dealings with local people whom she encounters on the way, often sleeping in their compounds. She writes of the poverty, the bugs and disease; but also the interesting and amusing situations she encounters; and the dangers from hostile 'shiftas' (bandits.) And she describes beautiful scenery and magical moments.
The author's sense of humour shines out in her writing, at herself as much as the Ethiopians.
Rather less 'political' than her later work on Laos.
One finishes the book full of admiration for a colossal achievement by a solitary traveller, unfazed by the injuries and difficulties she suffers in this remote and impoverished country. ( )
  starbox | Jun 13, 2015 |
First person account, in DM's idiosyncratic manner, of a 3 month trek through unforgiving terrain in Northern Ethiopia, in the 1960s. The scenery is clearly dramatic and spectacular but does not sound appealing, at least to me. Furthermore, the local people are a hard lot and she encounters a fair measure of distrust, coldness and downright thievery (3 times), while seeking shelter for the night.
All in all, a somewhat unsatisfying read and not nearly as good as her wandering in the Andes. ( )
  DramMan | Feb 17, 2015 |
She's hard and no doubt about it. Readable, yes, a great book, no. It misses a thread running through the narrative and therefore reads more like a list of journal entries (which I suppose it is). She paints a good picture and that's the joy of the book really. ( )
  shushokan | Mar 30, 2011 |
Dervla Murphy is always readable and enjoyable and this is no exception. She is observant and amusing and people relate well to her. ( )
  Tifi | Jun 25, 2010 |
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To Patsy, John & William with love
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(prologue) When I am asked 'Why did you go to Ethiopia?' I find it impossible to give a short, clear answer.
(Chapter 1) 16 December. Massawah All day the coast was in sight - a long line of low mountains, often indistinguishable from the pale clouds that hung above it.
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Inspired by childhood stories of Prester John and the Queen of Sheba, in 1966 Dervla Murphy bought Jock, an amiable pack-mule, in order to trek across the highlands of this awesome but troubled land. She wandered south from the Red Sea shore to Sheba's Aksum, and up to the icy roof of Africa, the Semien Mtns. From there she descended to the ruined palaces of Gondar and skirted the northern shore of Lake Tana before crossing the drought-afflicted high rated Jocknges to Lalibela. Having exchanged the exhausted Jock for an uncooperative donkey, Dervla completed her journey to Addis Ababa. Her real achievement was not surviving three armed robberies or a thousand mile trail but rather the growing affection and understanding of another race.
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Dervla Murphy set out with her pack-mule, Jock, on a hazardous trek through Ethiopia's remote and hostile regions. Inspired by stories of Prester John and the Queen of Sheba, she hoped to find there beauty, danger, solitude and mystery. Instead she encountered rough terrain, illness and civil disorder.… (more)

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