Ethiopia to Cape Town 2013

8 months - with Gitane - Toyota Hiace 4x4 van

Town of Harar

December 8, 2013  —  Ethiopia

Harar, a walled city

Ethnological museum - Addis Ababa - Ethiopia

The city is located at the foot of the Ahmar Mountains, and to the north is the huge Danakil desert. At an altitude of 1856 metres, Harar has a different vibe than the rest of Ethiopia. In fact, it feels like a place in the Arab world more than in Ethiopia. Indeed, the city, contrary to several others in the country, is of Islamic faith rather than Orthodox Christian.

Even though at the beginning, we were a bit daunted by the chaos and the faded look of the old city, we rapidly started to like it. Here, there are few tourists and few shops and restaurants for them. Thus, it feels like navigating through an authentic city with some very nice alleys and numerous mosques.

Harar is also known for an activity, called 'Hyena Feeding'. Are you curious to know what it is? The answer is coming in the next blog...

Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
The city is surrounded by an ancient protective wall. Being in a mainly Christian country, the city has managed to resist attacks from Christians and to keep a part of the trades with the Red Sea. The city has suffered much from these attacks.
Harar - Ethiopia
The old protective wall.
Harar - Ethiopia
Inside the fortification.
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Inside the walls, people go about their business without harassing the tourists. Harar has a reputation as one of the friendliest cities of Ethiopia. We agree with that.
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
The city is a labyrinth of colourful alleys and houses sometimes several centuries old. Indeed, the first foundation date from the 7th century.
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Several people in the city are not very rich, despite that, there are several houses with a very nice façade and with interiors very well furnished (we got a few peeks at some of them).
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Italians tried to invade Ethiopia, but they lost against the Ethiopian army (1935-1936). Today, there are still some left over from the Italian occupation; a good road infrastructure, spaghetti, good bread and these old Peugeot cars.
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
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At the Market

Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar's market was very interesting. In addition to being a colourful and lively market, we enjoyed a warm welcome from the locals. We learned to identify several types of grain on sale in the market.
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
It is possible to find several types of grain such as wheat, maize, sorghum, chick peas... There are also many types of tef, endemic to Ethiopia, used in making injera; the main food in the country.
Harar - Ethiopia
Donkeys are often used for transport.
Harar - Ethiopia
Khat merchants.
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
Selling vegetables in front of one of the city gates.
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In the footstep of Rimbaud

Arthur Rimbaud has lived in the city of Harar for a while. However, the place where he stayed has never been identified. Despite that, this magnificent house probably owned by a rich Indian merchant, has become a small museum dedicated to the famous poet.

Harar - Ethiopia
Rimbaud's house.
Harar - Ethiopia
The house is now a museum.
Harar - Ethiopia
Harar - Ethiopia
The inside of the house is richly decorated.
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Khat, a social problem?

The region around Harar is known for the quality of its coffee as well as its khat. The latter is a shrub whose leaves are prized for their stimulating quality. The leaves are especially used in Muslims country such as Djibouti, Yemen and some regions of Ethiopia.

The problem after excessive consumption is that a person feels uncomfortable, tired and somewhat depressed. In the afternoon, people become lazy so that village and city activities slow down to a crawl. Moreover, buying khat becomes a financial burden for a lot of people.

In Harar, we saw a lot of people using khat. It is probably for this reason that people are so friendly...

Harar - Ethiopia
People shopping for quality khat.
Harar - Ethiopia
Selling khat.