It turns out I didn't quite set my alarm early enough and was very late to the airport. I got a mild scolding from the ticket agent but no problem getting on the plane. The plane is a big twin propeller job, and it's another long and bumpy flight. At the Airport in Dire Dawa I confirmed my outgoing flight on Wednesday, but for some reason they wouldn't let me confirm my connecting flight - so I'll have to get here early on Wednesday and hope there will be room for me - or it's going to be another day in Addis. With some minor fuss I hired a taxi to take me to the taxi station for Harar (minor fuss: I wanted to pay 5 birr, he wanted me to pay 20 - I paid 7).
Almost immediately got on a shared taxi minibus - which miraculously left with three empty seats! The ride was about two hours long and pretty nice. The first part is up an escarpment with great views of the surrounding hills. We also passed a number of rusting tank remains - sort of weird. The only problem with the ride was that my fellow passengers wouldn't let me even crack the window (when I did someone would reach over and shut it - no matter how little I opened it), not a good thing with a fast driver and winding mountain roads.
Once in Harar I settled down in a local street cafe to get rid of the touts and figure out where I wanted to stay. I ended up in a pretty nice hotel right outside Shoa Gate of the old town. My small balcony overlooks the bustle and color of a market and beyond the gate itself. I asked the hotel manager what time it was and he told me nearly five - I couldn't believe how late it had gotten so I hurriedly set out to explore the city before dark. I wandered around the market outside the city gate (mostly food and western clothing) - I bought some soap - and then headed into the city. The city is a maze of narrow alleys and steps, in some spots beautiful, others ugly - mostly charming. The biggest problem is the smells - mostly not good. There's the rotting flesh smell of leather curing in the sun, and the putrid shit smell in some places was bad enough to make me gag (unfortunately they seem to have the same habit as in Addis of going wherever they happen to be). After wandering the streets for a while I asked what time it was and was told twelve thirty (which would be Ethiopian time for 6:30) so I hurried back to the hotel. I had a fantastic Ethiopian diner (mixed - goat and beef - Wat and Injera), then noticed that it didn't seem to be getting any darker outside - in fact the sun was starting to break through the clouds. Then I realized that I had it backwards when I'd been told it was five that was in Ethiopian time (11 AM) and when I'd been told 12:30 that was Western time! I still had most of the day ahead of me.
I walked back in to the old town and stopped to talk to a cobbler making shoes out of tires. He turned out to be dumb and only talked with his hands - so less than usual communications problems. I ended up ordering a pair of thongs for 5 birr ($.60) - I couldn't even bring myself to bargain.
Walked around the old town again - it's amazing how quickly I've figured out how to navigate the maze - not sure how. The markets are a lot busier now and the colors are amazing. There's also a bit of a breeze so even though it's a lot hotter now the smells aren't quite so overwhelming. After I've had enough of the heat I went back to the cobbler tried on the sandals and had him finish them. They don't have a lot of support but they're comfortable and I'm thinking about getting a second pair.
Spent the evening in my room reading or writting. After my huge "diner" at one o'clock I'm still not hungry. So early to bed.