Hyenas in Harar

Neither of us had been to a predominantly Muslim “country” before, so even though the city of Harar is only a 40 min flight East of Addis Ababa (still in Ethiopia), it felt like somewhere completely new!

There are 82 mosques within the “walled” city, a crazy 1 square km area of twisting alleyways leading to 5 ancient gates in and out of the city. We were so glad we had decided to arrange a ride and a guide to our hotel, because there is no possible way we would have found it behind the unmarked gate that looked identical to the one on either side of it. We settled in to a night’s rest, and of course Elizabeth was excited to find out about the included breakfast. We were excited when we realized it was fried dough and honey just like a sopapilla…for the next 3 days!

After breakfast we headed out to see the town with our guide. We started at the spice market which was the coolest market that I’ve ever seen! Since I could not really cook here I purchased some Frankinscense instead. When Elizabeth made fun of me for buying SO much, I promised her a traditional coffee ceremony on the beach with breakfast in bed, so I’m sure she will hold me to it:)

The hyena man was definitely one of the craziest things I have ever done! Our guide talked me into letting a hyena eat meat off a stick from my mouth AND crawl on my back to eat meat hanging above my head! I was surprised at how heavy it was with its front paws on my neck! I think I might we allergic to hyenas… maybe fleas? Our English friend Alex and Elizabeth did it too – despite the fact Elizabeth was ADAMANT she wasn’t going to before we got there! I was so proud of her! After we had all fed the hyenas the adrenaline rush lent itself to some beers with our guide at a great local spot.

We spent our last day in Harar on a great walk along the wall on the outside of the city, with some great sightseeing and people watching (my personal favorite was the “doctor” who invited us in to a restaurant for a drink with him at 10 am who admitted he was slurring because he was so drunk already. We declined.) Elizabeth had a scarf made on the spot by a local tailor on “Mechina Ger Ger” in the old city, and I bought more Frankinscense.

Highlight of our last night in Harar was running into our friends Mark and Bec again, an Irish/Aussie couple who has been traveling nearly the same route with us in Northern Ethiopia. They have been working for a primate rehabilitation center in DR Congo for the past year as zookeepers, so they have some pretty crazy stories…especially over some cheap ($0.50!) big draft beers:)

Next stop is volunteering with Love Volunteers for 2 weeks back in Addis…should be interesting!

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