March 5

Dear Diary,
I will tell you the story of our adventure. I made Kassa kneel down, then I put a blanket and a pair of hanging baskets on her warm, fuzzy back and climbed on. She got to her feet and I told her to be good and made her walk to Father. He held her rope while Berhanu and Dawit yoked the oxen then urged them forward. Father slung more rope and baskets onto the oxen, to carry supplies. He and my brothers also carried packs and extra bags, and Father held a small paraffin lamp. I carried my school backpack with food inside, because we were bound to get hungry before this was all over!

We walked to the edge of our village and met three of our neighbors there, also leading an ox and two donkeys. Then we turned away from our homes and headed for the north trail.

It was still raining and all of us quickly became tired of being wet and trying to see the trail ahead. Luckily, it runs straight for the first few miles and we had only to keep moving. I felt pretty safe up so high on Kassa, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t afraid, Diary! All of us stretched our ears as hard as we could to hear any sound besides the rain falling on grass and leaves. Many times we heard hyenas yipping and laughing in their terrible way. I felt Kassa trembling beneath me and I whispered nice things to her to keep her calm. I knew she wanted to run very fast away from that sound!

The oxen didn’t seem to care.

Once something very big crashed across the trail in front of us, snorting and running. Dawit gave a yell and Kassa made a moaning noise, but she only stopped and waited until I prodded her to move on. Father said he thought the noise came from a kudu, a very big kind of antelope with stripes on its body and long twisted horns.

“He was more afraid of us than we were of him,” laughed Father, although I think his heart pounded as hard as mine. Dawit pretended that he wasn’t afraid—but, of course, we had heard him cry out. I decided it was not worth the trouble teasing him, because I had been scared just as badly.

I will write more soon, Diary, but now I must sleep and be ready for school in the morning.

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