I got up insanely early this morning to catch a taxi to the airport. It was still dark out but ther were men out...excercizing. I saw guys doing pushups off the sidewalk and groups of men out jogging - some while carrying rifles.
Security at the airport was a breeze and the flight was short. To get to Harar, unless you are driving, you fly to a city called Dire Dawa and then catch some vehicular transport from there. I took a taxi from thr airport to the train station in Dire Dawa.
The trains haven't run in years, but the station was a good starting point for a walk around. I couldn't leave without taking a look. On one side of the river (well, the river no longer has water in it. It's just a dusty thoroughfare for goats and a dumping ground for trash) the town has nice leafy streets with a few good cafes and an orderly feel.
On the otherside the town is a bit more chaotic and distinctly muslim, with hints at the sort of architecture i will see in Harar.
I enjoyed the wander at first, but then i realized i had no idea where to catch a minibus out of the city. So i just kept walking, with my backpack, dodging 3 wheeled tuk tuk type things, donkeys pulling carts, dudes who were a little too friendly, kids who kept trying to hold my hand, and people on the steets selling randon items, sewing clothes, and making furniture.
Just when i started to get hot and tired, i broke down to ask directions, having no luck in Amharic, i walked into a cafe and said "does anyone speak english?" One guy put up his hand and he offered to walk me to where i could catch a minibus. Very kind. The journey was just over an hour and cost about $2. The scenery was more deserty, with dry green shrubbery and people engaging in the necessities of rural life.
Finally i was let off just outside the gates to the old city. I am not staying in the old city, which i am staying near to. Mt hotel is the Ras Hotel, which is old but decent. The only drawback though is that there is no water. The man at the desk was not sure when the water would be restored, but thry have put a nice big bucket of water in my room with a ladle, so i guess that works. Plus, i now know the Amharic word for water. The power has already gone out twice and there are vultures outside my window, but it is all just fine. I am now having a cigar before i head back to the old city to look around.
All is well.