Woke up at five and decided against my early morning attempt at the falls - it was cold and threatening outside - so I went back to bed. Got up at eight and decided to catch a later bus for the falls. Got to the bus station a nine and - after waiting forty-five minutes for the bus to fill - was off. On the bus I met an Ethiopian guy named Yilma who was on vacation visiting his sister and her husband (?) - who were also on the bus. The bus ride took about an hour and was incredibly bumpy. Even before the bus started to unload there was an incredible mass of people trying to get on - it was incredibly hectic. Finally managed to get off and headed for the falls with Yilma and company.
The hike to the falls wasn't too tough and the guides we hired (Yilma negotiated them) were largely unnecessary though they did keep the other would be guides away. Tisissat (Smoke of the Blue Nile) Falls are impressive. Not so high or so vast as Victoria Falls, but pretty much unvisited and in a lovely green surroundings. We hiked an additional half hour, forded a tributary, and descended a steep slippery path to the base of the falls (not to mention got soaked in the process). While we were at the bottom of the falls it started to rain - something I didn't notice until we started back due to the spray. From the top of the falls we avoided the two hour hike back by taking a ferry across the river back to town (spotting a couple large crocs on the way - making me feel great about the earlier barefoot fording).
We had to wait an hour for the bus to come (tried bire - a local drink made out of water and honey). The competition for the bus was even more chaotic than when we came. Luckily Yilam paid some boys to save us seats - they climbed on the roof and went in through the windows! It took thirty minutes to get everyone on and off. I've seen some bad bus situations (Syria, Jordan, The Gambia), but this is by far the worst (most violent, chaotic, etc.) loading I've ever seen. After that exciting start the rest of the journey was unexciting. Of course this being Africa the bus broke down a couple kilometers from town, but at least the rain stopped so the walk wasn't unpleasant.
Back in town went with Yilma and company to the Marine Authority. They're also planning on going to some of the monasteries tomorrow. The Marine Authority's boat costs 3 birr, where the boat I'd been offered cost 350 birr - not surprisingly though foreigners are not allowed on the cheap boat. I arrange to meet them later tonight for a beer and then head back to the hotel.
While waiting for diner (I haven't had anything but water all day) I run into the guy who offered me a monastery boat yesterday (for 350 birr) and he tells me that he has a boat going tomorrow that I can get on for 100 - so at least I have a not too expensive plan for tomorrow. Meet up with Yilma and his sister's husband for a beer and then fall into bed exhausted.