Homer's Travels: 2022 Fall Travels, Part Four - Ethiopia - Harar

Friday, December 16, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part Four - Ethiopia - Harar

We left the 'palace' and flew to Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia.  From the airport we drove to Harar.  Harar is the fourth holiest Islamic city (after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem) and is the center of the Ethiopian Muslim populous.

A market street in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.
We stopped to check into our hotel.  This one was interesting.  Several of the tour members had to change rooms a few times until they found rooms where the toilet worked or the electricity flowed.  The Wife and I didn't have to move but our toilet had to be fixed.  We ate lunch at the hotel's restaurant where I had my first (and only) spicy hot hamburger.  I'd ordered it figuring it was safe but it wasn't.  I went back to going with the lamb or goat with rice.  This place made the Lalibela hotel seem very nice and elevated the 'palace' in Addis Ababa a notch or two.

The walled city of Harar - mosques are painted turquoise.
The first stop was the Harari City Museum where emperor Haile Selassie spent much of his childhood.  The museum was a mixture of religious and historical artifacts.

Spices and peppers.
The museum was followed by a drive along the old city walls  on the way to a walk in the local market where we saw spices, produce, and stalls selling old car and machinery parts made or repaired by local artisans.

The Wife feeding the hyenas.
(Picture taken by our guide.)
Harar is famous for something … hyenas.  The hyenas live outside the city and, at night, come into the streets.  "Hyena Men", who have passed the tradition through the generations, feed butcher shop waste to the hyenas.  Over the years the hyenas have become accustomed to the people and, being well fed, to not bother the people living in Harar.  We drove down to meet one of the Hyena Men.  The Wife helped feed the hyenas.  Small chunks of meat are placed on a stick that she held out to the hyenas who took the food.  The Wife then held the stick in her mouth, another chunk of meat was place on it, and the hyena took the meat without eating the Wife's face.  I did not feed them.  Unfortunately it was dark and few of our pictures came out.

One of our tour mates, after getting to the place nearly panicked when she saw the hyenas.  When it was time to leave she refused to move.  I took her hand and slowing walked her to the car distracting her with calm talk.  While I did this her husband was laughing at her (the guy was a jerk).

The interior of a harari home.
The next day we visited a typical Muslim home which, frankly, was not too typical as it was now an Airbnb but it was decorated in the traditional style which was quite beautiful.

Next we went to a local meat market and fed scraps of meat to the Kites.  I did feed the kites.  With a piece of meat on the palm of your hand held over your head, the birds would swoop down and take the meat from your hand.  The Wife had some scratches from the bird's claws but I didn't get a single scratch.

A Kite waiting for a snack.
Last stop of the day was at the Arthur Rimbaud Center located in the house of French poet Arthur Rimbaud.  The museum had an interesting display of photographs, history and poetry.  Strangely enough it took us awhile to find the small room dedicated to Rimbaud's poetry.  It felt like an afterthought.

Our guide knew we liked to shop she took us to a shop in an old ladies home.  Most of the items seemed to be old items acquired from other people and artisans.  The Wife and I found many treasures to buy.  The most interesting are handmade prayer books (we think they are prayer books anyway).  The books are small, hand written in an old form of the Amharic language (our guide could not read them), and were hand bound in leather.  One of the books has indentations in the cover like it had been held in someone's hand for a long time.

The Arthur Rimbaud house.
On our last morning in Harar we stopped at a khat market on our way to the airport.  This was a weird experience.  Khat is addictive and you saw a lot of people stoned out of their minds as people carried big bunches of khat leaves to be bought or sold.  None of us felt comfortable here even if it was interesting.

The khat market ... the bunches of leaves are the khat.  The leaves are chewed and are a stimulant.
We left Harar and flew on to our next destination: southwestern Ethiopia.  After experiencing history and religion, we would now experience wildlife and diverse cultures.  Our adventure continued.

Pictures can be found in my Ethiopia 2022-10 Google Photos album.

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