Ethiopian Adventures: Addis Ababa and the East to Harar

I only spent one full day in Addis Ababa, because when I travel I prefer to see cities and towns other than the capital, although I do like to at least see them for one day to compare with other big African cities. We spent a lovely day in Addis exploring the market areas, and I helped Tristen find the ingredients for her to try and make injera and doro wat (chicken dish) when she went back to the States. We also had our first taste of the delicious blend of cinnamon and Addis tea. We later bought some in Harar. The hotel also had an amazing and very delicious vegan lunch buffet. I don’t remember the last time I ate so much food.

Market in Addis
And the injera never ceased to be delicious
The infamous plant that Ethiopians love to chew

From Addis we took a 10-hour bus across the countryside to visit the city of Harar. Harar is the fourth holiest city in Islam, and the only walled city in Ethiopia. The wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I believe there are 8 in total in Ethiopia, and we went to a few of them. The 10-hour bus ride was much better than the people vomiting near us mini bus ride of earlier in our trip. We even stopped in a very quaint town on the way for lunch and saw baboons along the roadside. That evening when we got to Harar we went to see one of the hyena men. These men sit outside of the city walls in the evenings and call hyenas from the surrounding countryside to them. They have even named the hyenas! Then they have the onlookers participate in feeding them. I will not lie. I was terrified at first at the thought of being so close to a hyena, but I decided that I could not be so close to such an interesting spectacle and not take part. So I put on my brave face and sat down by the hyena man. Then he broke a stick and put one end in my mouth and put a piece of meat on the other end. Then a hyena came up and ate the meat from the stick, coming closer to my face than I would have ever liked a hyena to come. I did this twice. Then Tristen, who had also done this, joined me and we fed a hyena together from a basket filled with meat scraps. It was probably one of the crazier things I have done in my life so far.

Feeding the hyena--I was more scared than I look here

The rest of our time in Harar was spent exploring the different gates and the wall of the city. We also went to the Rimbaud house and Haile Selassie’s house. It was very different from any other town we went through during our time in Ethiopia. It was also the site of our most unfortunate encounter in the country. A young boy of around 15 followed us for a long time asking if we would have sex with him. We finally got angry at his persistence and went to a museum to get help from someone inside. While Tristen was talking to someone, I turned around and the boy exposed himself to me. I have never had anything like that happen to me and was angered at how far he would take things. We then picked up a large stick and he got the idea when we shook it at him that we would not be afraid to use it if he insisted on escalating the situation. That boy aside, Harar was my favorite city we visited during our tour of Ethiopia. It had cute breakfast stations where we would sit and eat bread and this dish called phoul and drink tea. From Harar we took a short bus ride to the neighboring city of Dire Dawa to get a flight back to Addis.

Haile Selassie House
Largest mosque in the city
Cultural Heritage Museum
UNESCO World Heritage Site (the wall)
Bustling market by one of the many gates
Spices in the market
A sea of peppers
Drinking tea at an outdoor breakfast stop
Bread seller at the market

1 thought on “Ethiopian Adventures: Addis Ababa and the East to Harar”

  1. Hi,

    I am a photojournalism student from the United States and will be traveling to Ethiopia in about a week to hopefully work on a story about the hyena man. I was wondering if you knew anyone within the city of Harar that may be able to help me translate or if you knew of any cheap places to stay? Also, do you remember about how much you paid for a bus ticket and where I could get one? I would really appreciate your help and any insights you could provide! Let me know as soon as possible.

    Thank you!!

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