As a tourist, a foreigner, you may sometimes feel “harassed” by the kids begging for some bir, a pen or whatever they see or think you can give them; don’t give, not because you have a dry heart, but it may create bad habits and the relationship with locals could be false, not honest in some way; better is to talk, with smiles, gestures and a few words if you can. Better to learn people fishing than giving them fish (Mao), and if the tourist cannot have the pretention of learning “fishing” to the locals, he can communicate with them, have some empathy, smile, and he is rewarded hundred times with smiles and laughers, in return. Kids and women of Harar smile, so smile back, and make pictures, as with the digital cameras you can show them how they look like.
Don’t “steal” pictures (make pictures without consent), just ask, or show you are making pictures, and you are rewarded with bright or discreet smiles like on the four first pictures, and if you pass by some shop, you even can be called in to have a chat and make a picture of the owner (or employee), and, if you are a man, phantasm a few seconds about the promises the smile suggests. . . (picture 5).
A very important East African crop is coffee, and if one can get addicted to coffee, the effects are way less harmful than the ones of khat.
And many people consider coffee has its origins on the high plateaus of Ethiopia, and indeed, some of the best coffees in the world are grown in Ethiopia, and specially in the Harar area!
Like in other places of Ethiopia, the “Coffee ceremony” is a very important time of social life, and there is a tip elsewhere in the Ethiopian pages, here is just a word about the coffee of Harar which is very famous!
The coffee grains are like elsewhere on the small trees (picture 1), but the coffee makers here have the luck to have the best crops, and whan you walk in the streets you may come across some roaster/blender, like Nure (picture 2), and walk into his factory; but they are generally not keen of visitors having a too close look at their roasting and milling secrets, and pictures are usually not allowed in the roasting factory! But you can enjoy the wonderful smell of freshly roasted coffee, and that is really paradisiac! Just smell, and enjoy; ah! picture 3 is a “stolen picture” of a milling/blending machine taken in Nure’s factory; I do not see an industrial secret stolen there. . . .
It was the car of Africa 20-30 years ago, but still is the car here of most of taxi drivers. Harar marks its difference with the other Ethiopian cities where you find mostly 10-15 years younger Lada taxis, but not in better shape!
There are not only the sedans like the one you see on the first picture, but also combis (picture 2), overloaded, as usual! Look on picture 3) to see how thes cars are used, and be amazed how they can still climb the very rough roads up to the city.
These donkeys look really exhausted! One must imagine they have carried their load of wood to the city from far in the countryside probably; look well, behind them you can see stacks of wood, they and their fellow creatures carried to the market.
Otheres, in the shade of the houses in a small street are waiting to be unloaded when their owner will have found somebody to purchase their load (picture 2).
It is the women who sell and buy the wood (picture 3), a normal thing, as they are the ones who will use it for cooking! The wood is sold in big bundles (picture 4) which are thrown on the ground for the buyers; some may think this practice (burning wood) may contribute to deforestation which is a problem in the Horn of Africa (and elsewhere), but people have to live, and helping them to protect their environment may be first to provide them access to other energy sources at competitive prices. . . . .
These people need that wood and make kilometres to gather it, then more kilometres to bring it to the market, and they do it like centuries ago, except they have now to insert in the traffic of the city (picture 5).
Watching the streets, makes sometimes think about social-economic issues; this is travelling, too, what travels reward us with, learn about people. . . . . and the donkeys are just animals here to help people to live. . . . . . . .