Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Heading for Harrar's Hyenas

A vulture-like bird staring into my hotel room... Foreshadowing of things to come....?

After weeks of hemming and hawing and yesterday's debacle of sleeping in, I'm here in Harrar, the self proclaimed medieval capital of "the horn of Africa" and 4th holiest city in the Islamic world. That's of course after a excruciatingly painful 10 hour (0600 to 1600), 525km bus ride east of Addis. It wasn't particularly lengthy on paper but really slow. Plus, it was really hot in the cabin.

The most interesting scenery was the drive through Awash National Park. Cinder cones to craters to volcanoes right next to the highway.

At least I'm in Harrar now. I've checked into the Tewodros Hotel with a room facing the famous hyena field of dreams. No first observations so far other than there are a helluva lot of flies and homeless people here.

I borrowed a can of insecticide spray from the manager. The instructions the can didn't list any dangerous side effects so I nuked the room and shut the door. I got the hell out of there of course.

As for the homeless, I'll try to help them out tomorrow.

View Larger Map

The above map indicates the location of the Tewodros Hotel. Just north of the Hotel is a large soccer field/garbage dump... the Old city is to the right...

Later that day:

It was something like 2145. The football field/garbage dump just behind the hotel turned into a hyena fest/convention. I could hardly see them in the dark but I could clearly see the ones walking along the lit street. Even more eerie was that the fact that I heard them wading through the garbage and their whimpering cries.

Long exposure of the football field/dump taken from a balcony at the Tewodros Hotel...

The scene was freakish. People were milling about, seemingly oblivious to the presence of hyenas. Some idiots were even taunting them, drawing muted or non-responses from some of the most ferocious predators in Africa. I was even more surprised that they didn't go after one of the neighbourhood dogs.

Clearly, this phenomenon or behaviour stemmed from the presence of the garbage dump. Poor waste management.

This may sound ridiculous, but I was tempted to go out and shoot some pix. For chrissakes some of them were huge. Easily take down a human being, eh.

Out of Canuckistan: A travel blog, Apr 29/07
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