Rick Layne & Mary Thomas’ Ethiopian Diaries
Sunday 14, Valentine’s Day: Harar — The morning and afternoon are dedicated to walking all over the old town of Harar (the fourth holiest city in Islam) which is riddled with narrow passages and pastel-painted walls and houses. The markets, which are located around the old city’s gates, are a riot of color with women in more brightly-colored dresses than we have seen elsewhere in Ethiopia. It is the sabbath for Muslims and Christians and most of the permanent market stalls are closed, so the traders have set up shop in the squares and in the streets, adding to the festive confusion, and providing for many more photo opportunities. In addition to the usual items for sale in the markets, chat is on sale in numerous places and we note lots of users all over town using or sleeping or passed out. Our final activity of the day is to watch the hyenas being fed. This is a tradition in Harar stretching back hundreds of years, initially aimed to keep the hyenas sated to protect the farmers’ livestock, and may still serve that purpose, but it has become a big tourist attraction, even though it takes place next to the city’s garbage dump.