Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ethiopia: Downpours and Dyspepsia in Harar, Day 5, Tuesday

Afternoon. Another pounding rainfall. From my balcony:

Photo credit: Nina Wessel
  • People crammed under the storefront eaves. A woman holds high one of those immense baskets of baguettes, protecting it from the rain and jostling from neighbors.
  • Women vendors with umbrellas sit tight on their stools or yellow water jugs.
  • A man rushes to affix an orange tarp over part of his store's tin roof.
  • Water rushes down the rocky road beneath my balcony, and I now add the power of water as another contributor to these rocks' polished surfaces. Many such rains have scooped out the dirt "mortar" in which the rocks may have been laid originally, explaining why the road surface is similar to a dry creek bed.
  • Two little girls lose their shoes, temporarily, to the force of the water drainage along the sidewalk.
  • A truck filled with large, thick, flat rocks goes down the road. Like coals to Newcastle, it seems to me.
  • I look further down to my right - there, the road is a roiling stream - a young child could be carried away in the depth and force of the water.

Photo credit: 4shared

I am in my room this afternoon because I'm ill. Started with a headache that wouldn't go away, then nausea and diarrhea. I took two cipro pills; will take another before I go to bed. I called Ed, a fellow traveler, and asked if he would let the guide, Aziz, know that I will be unable to keep our appointment to see the hyena feeding this evening.

Late morning:

Hanging out in the cafe by the Orthodox church in Jubal (Harar's walled city)'s main square. Trying to get caught up in my writing, but am easily distracted by the goings-on around me:

  • That woman over there, who evidently lives by a storefront wall with her infant and toddler. A German woman, Emily, bought medication for both kids. She believes the infant will die within 2 weeks of her return to Germany, a few weeks hence. The mother devotes much of her time to chewing chat. Chat reduces hunger, so the mother may not eat enough to provide sufficient milk to nurse the infant properly. But this morning, mom engages in some housekeeping --> she sweeps the pavement in front of her blanket; shakes out the blanket; waters down the dusty area in front of her blanket; uses a water bottle to wash her feet, calves, and face.
  • The cafe guard, with his donkey whip, keeps on eye out for obnoxious children or others, at the ready to chase them away.
  • Incredibly, I engage in a conversation with a young deaf man named Abdella. (Abdella's best friend is also deaf, but his sign language is not as good as Abdella's.) My sign language is very rusty, but Abdella can finger spell words that I can understand, and we have a limited communication. There is evidently a school for the deaf here. As with so many other Ethiopians, however, there is no job for him.
  • Aziz, a guide, joined me at the cafe. We make an arrangement to meet here at 6:30 this evening, and we'll then walk out to see the hyena-feeding man. I'm kind of nervous about this, even though I've never heard about a tourist being mauled by a Harari hyena. We also agree to meet for lunch tomorrow at one of the markets, so I can try camel meat.
  • A child about five years old kicks a younger child, later kicks a goat (twice), then works mightily to push a large rock off an empty tire that serves as a parking marker. Ah, a bully in the making.

Photo credit: Stefan Gara

Early morning:

I got up early for breakfast to see the Dutch couple off from Harar. They enthused about their side trip to the camel market in Babile yesterday, so I make a plan to stay a day longer in Harar to catch the Thursday market.

The Dutch couple leaves, and Edith, the Irish woman, arrives for her breakfast. I remain and we chat. Then Sean, the writer, who turns out to be (sort of) from Columbia, MO, arrives, and he joins us for breakfast and conversation.

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