Connect the dots

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hadj to Harar

In nearly every town you'll recognize the red, green, and yellow arched entrances that indicate inside resides an orthodox church. But as soon as you enter one of the five gates in the old walled city of Harar, the crosses are less common and crescent moons and stars take their place. This 1 square kilometer town is home to over 100 mosques. Believe me, call to prayer has never been louder!

Formed as a Muslim state between the 7th and 11th centuries, this was a center for Islamic culture in this part of Africa. A world apart from the rest of Ethiopia, it even had its own language (Adare) and currency. Walking through the streets again reminds you of Zanzibar and Lamu, with its narrow, winding streets, beautiful stonewalled buildings, old wooden balconies, colorful markets and Arab-Indian trade culture.

One of the 5 gates

The best lentil and leek samosas!

The famous poet Rimbaud made his home here in the late 1800s. Here is also where Ras Tafari Mekonnen (aka Emperor Haile Selassie) spent his first few days of married life. Dad was governor here so a spacious honeymoon palace was no problem.

Palace of One love
Our dream home in Harar...

Our actual home for 2 days...

Zubeyda's house - one of only two traditional guesthouses in town
A snooze in the living room
Tuk-tuk or Peugeot 404?
 And after dark, hyenas are ready for dinner:

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