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Groovin' with Bob in Ethiopia's Danakil Desert

"You have Bob in there!" Ethiopian soldiers in Danakil Desert experiencing an iPod for the first time.
"You have Bob in there!" Ethiopian soldiers in Danakil Desert experiencing an iPod for the first time.

After a week of photographing remote volcanic lakes in the desert of Ethiopia, Irene was tired and elected to stay with the vehicle while I went to shoot one last thermal pool.

Assured of her safety by the dozen or so Ethiopian soldiers stationed at this remote outpost, I set out one final time into the 120-degree heat of the Danakil Desert with thoughts of a cool drink later that night for the first time in a week.

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Although the area had a history of banditry and kidnapping, we both felt secure with so many armed soldiers about. So I was startled an hour later when, returning, I saw our vehicle from the crest of a hill surrounded by agitated soldiers waiving their rifles in the air. I wondered what could have gone wrong in such a short amount of time.

I raced down the hill of volcanic rock, lacerating my boots on razor-sharp basalt, and rushed to her side, where she calmly told me she had been listening to Bob Marley on her iPod while I was gone.

All these years after his death, Bob Marley still ranks a close second behind Haile Selassie in Ethiopia, and without thinking that her musical choice was a national hero, Irene had arbitrarily been listening to “I Shot the Sheriff.”

The author with a Bob Marley fan.

The curious soldiers had never seen or heard of an iPod, so she passed the earphones around to the astonished troops, who looked at each other in wonder and began to shout, “It’s Bob!” “You have Bob in there!” To them this was almost magic.

When I arrived, Irene had all twelve of them passing her earphones around and grooving to "No Woman, No Cry” under the blazing desert sun.

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"You have Bob in there!" Ethiopian soldiers in Danakil Desert experiencing an iPod for the first time.
"You have Bob in there!" Ethiopian soldiers in Danakil Desert experiencing an iPod for the first time.

After a week of photographing remote volcanic lakes in the desert of Ethiopia, Irene was tired and elected to stay with the vehicle while I went to shoot one last thermal pool.

Assured of her safety by the dozen or so Ethiopian soldiers stationed at this remote outpost, I set out one final time into the 120-degree heat of the Danakil Desert with thoughts of a cool drink later that night for the first time in a week.

Sponsored
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Although the area had a history of banditry and kidnapping, we both felt secure with so many armed soldiers about. So I was startled an hour later when, returning, I saw our vehicle from the crest of a hill surrounded by agitated soldiers waiving their rifles in the air. I wondered what could have gone wrong in such a short amount of time.

I raced down the hill of volcanic rock, lacerating my boots on razor-sharp basalt, and rushed to her side, where she calmly told me she had been listening to Bob Marley on her iPod while I was gone.

All these years after his death, Bob Marley still ranks a close second behind Haile Selassie in Ethiopia, and without thinking that her musical choice was a national hero, Irene had arbitrarily been listening to “I Shot the Sheriff.”

The author with a Bob Marley fan.

The curious soldiers had never seen or heard of an iPod, so she passed the earphones around to the astonished troops, who looked at each other in wonder and began to shout, “It’s Bob!” “You have Bob in there!” To them this was almost magic.

When I arrived, Irene had all twelve of them passing her earphones around and grooving to "No Woman, No Cry” under the blazing desert sun.

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