July 4th -7th, 2015
How can one miss the chance to eat camel meat, pet a live camel, and feed a wild hyena all in the same week! That’s what you get when you travel to Harar, Ethiopia! If you read my last blog post, The Colors of Harar, you will see all the other reasons why this beautiful and charming city is an spectacular place to visit.
We started by sampling some camel meat for dinner on our second night in the old walled city. We had our guide help us purchase some camel meat and then one of his friends prepared the meat. It was similar to beef but a little tougher. However, the woman who had prepared it, did an amazing job because the flavors she used were amazing, lots of different herbs and spices. We had also purchased some street sambusas to supplement our meal since camel meat is a little on the expensive side for our thrifty Peace Corps selves.
My three Peace Corps Volunteer friends and I made a new friend a the Rewda guesthouse where we were staying and joined forces to navigate to the camel market in Babile. His name was Chis, he was from Washington D.C., and he had traveled Ethiopia several times over the last several years including Harar. We had all decided that we didn’t need a guide to help us navigate to the market outside of Harar in Babile and would just use the public mini buses to get there. Getting there was super easy and an amazingly nice woman on the bus with a small infant happened to be going to the market in Bibile so she just walked us right to it. It was probably a good ten minute walk from where the bus dropped us so it would have been a little difficult to find on our own. Once she walked us to the main market we just had to look for a bunch of camels.
At first we were concerned just seeing a regular market, but then at the very back of the market(it was fairly large) we saw a giant field AND camels! It was so exciting! We kind of acted like kids when we saw them. I went bustling toward them. How much fun to just be in a big field with about 60 camels and take photos to your heart’s content? We even happened to witness them branding the camels. OUCH!
After heading back to our guesthouse, lunch and a restful afternoon, we devoured about 40 sambusas for our dinner before planning to go feed hyenas. The night before we had attempted to feed hyenas at the New Hyena Man but there were too many people and no hyenas. So on this night our guide had said he would take us to the Old Hyena Man. It was a further walk, so usually not as crowded. We began our long walk into the darkness outside the old city gates with our flashlights pointing the way. Every now and then our comical guide would stop in his tracks and say, “hyena!” We did see our first Ethiopian snake, just a baby. However, an Ethiopian man quickly chopped it in half. Our walked continued for some time and we began to doubt our guide a bit, unsure of his true motives. A large flashlight appeared behind us as we walked and our guide then said we could stop. Apparently the Old Hyena Man was behind us. So we had beaten him out to his spot. Now we truly were unsure of our guide. Wondering if this was really a hyena man or just a friend of his wanting to dupe us out of money.
The hyena man quickly walked past us into the trees and began calling the hyenas and pointing his flashlight into the woods. We waited, looking nervously at one another. We were four Peace Corps Volunteers and one man from Washington D.C. all alone with two Ethiopians and had no clue what was about to happen. Just a little bit scary. Suddenly a bajaj (small three wheeled transport) came rolling up with some men from South Africa. We were suddenly relieved that at least more farenji were showing up. Then out of the wood came the glowing eyes of the hyenas. It took the hyena man no more than 15 minute after we had arrived to gather them. One pair of eyes after another emerged from the darkness until we had about six or more gathered and hungry. We had decided before hand that Brita would be going first. However, I had no idea that the hyena man would not ease us into it somehow. He just said, “Ok, who’s first!?!?”
It was amazing! We each got to take turns sitting next to the Old Hyena Man while he had the hyenas jump on our back for a “hyena massage.” This just allowed us to feel how big and heavy they are. They are very massive. Then we each got to put a stick in our mouth and the hyena man would stick meat on the stick and the hyenas would grab the meat off the stick! We got to do that three or four times each. It was amazing and such a rush. Just being surround by hyenas was terrifying but somehow spectacular at the same time. We all walked away high on life.
All Hyena Photos were taken by Chris Jensen.
Stay tuned for my next post from my trip to Harar…
-Children of Harar, the many faces of the precious children of Harar
And check out The Colors of Harar if you haven’t had a chance.
Until Next time, Peace
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