We were almost finished with this post, then the power went out and we lost it!  Earlier I posted a video on Facebook of the thunderstorm.  It is still raining.  If you aren't our Facebook friend yet, we are under the name Our Ethiopian Daughter.

Our trip to Dire Dawa and Harar was the greatest trip ever. The people in Ethiopia are so friendly - whether they're Christian or Muslim, they co-exist peacefully and have welcomed us everywhere we've been. 

Dire Dawa was an awesome city. As far as infrastructure, it was the most modern of all the cities - paved, straight roads, cool architecture. We arrived after a delayed plane ride by mid afternoon, ate lunch at the hotel there, met our driver and headed to Harar.  

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Flying from Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa.
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The view from our balcony in Dire Dawa.
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Another view from our balcony in Dire Dawa.
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The view from our balcony in the rain.
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Many of the homes on the road to Harar look like this one.
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Homes on the hillside on the road to Harar. Chat farms in the background.
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We got out of the van for a picture.
The road there was interesting - very mountainous, very curvy, and lots of small white Toyota vans like we were in. When we got to Harar, we visited Abeneezer Orphanage and took them donations, including $200 American dollars worth of formula (from donations gathered back home). They were very grateful. The kids there were awesome. 

They had a washing machine at their facility for us to take to Abenezzer in Dire Dawa on our way back. In true Ethiopian fashion, we strapped it to the roof of the van with some rope - they use the roofs of vehicles to haul most anything, we even saw a volkswagen bug hauling two goats (see below).  

At one point in the afternoon we were standing in a nice, quiet neighborhood in Harar and we quickly became a spectacle.  People were stopping in their tracks to look at us.  Two girls stopped and sat down to stare.  Yonas explained to us that some of the folks in that neighborhood had never seen white people before and the ones who had had only seen them in the tourist areas, and probably never in this neighborhood.  So we just smiled and waved and they all smiled back.  Every single person we have smiled at in Ethiopia has sincerely smiled back.   
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Many streets in Harar look like this one.
Later we picked up our tour guide and headed to the old walled section of Harar to shop. We bought coffee and souvenirs. It was very cool seeing the old walls that date back to 1552. After the tour and shopping, we went to the market which was very crowded (being the day before Easter - it's a week later here). This market is where we took the video that's now on Facebook.  And again we were quite a spectacle.  
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With Yonas in the market in Harar. Yonas was with us through the whole trip. I love this picture, because you can see how discretely people were looking at us.
By then, it was dark and we went to see the Hyena Man of Harar (he's famous, you can google him). We stayed in the van with the driver, but Yonas and the tour guide, Ashenafi, got out and fed the hyenas in the street. It was nuts. Yonas, who had done it before, said even he was nervous. It was crazy!! We filmed everything from inside the van, behind metal and glass. 

Then we dropped off the tour guide and headed back to Dire Dawa in the dark. Once we were there, we delivered the washing machine and a few other donations to the Dire Dawa Abenezzer Orphanage. It was a nice facility - the newest of the Abenezzer Orphanages. After that, we had dinner with Yonas at the hotel. 

This trip was truly one of the greatest experiences of our lives.  We are so grateful that we chose to go and that we've now seen with our own eyes the amazing city our daughter comes from.  We will definitely go back with her some day.  Hopefully sooner, than later.
 


Comments

Amanda
04/15/2012 12:37pm

That is SO awesome! I can't wait to see all 1000 pics!! I can't believe you're there and can see all that!! Be safe and have a wonderful time soaking up all of Sissys world to tell us all about! See you in 11 days!!!! (not that I'm counting...)

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04/16/2012 10:58am

Wow Brandy! Thank you for sharing your journey! I saw a video of Hyena Man on youtube... crazy! Praying for Thursday for your MOWCYA letter and court (=

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Angi
04/17/2012 5:59pm

Can't wait to see those pictures :)

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Erin
06/14/2012 4:28pm

Sounds wonderful! We are heading to Ethiopia next week to meet our son for the first time! We are then traveling to Dire Dawa and Harar, and were wondering if you could recommend a hotel or guesthouse. I know you did not stay in Harar, but did you encounter any highly recommended places to stay there?
Thank you!

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Brandy
06/14/2012 4:57pm

Yes, the hotel we stayed at in Dire Dawa was called that Samrat. http://www.samrat-hotel.com/site/home.aspx It wasn't exactly "nice" by American standards, but we were told it was the nicest place in Dire Dawa. The lobby is great and the restaurant was wonderful. Try the mango juice! Have a wonderful time!

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Trude
12/15/2012 2:10pm

Hi! A wonderful read! Our son was born in Harar and spent his first months in an orphenage in Dire Dawa - nice to find photos and stories to add to our stories to him. Greetings from Norway, Trude

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