Harar
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Camel Market in Babilla
In eastern Ethiopia, pass Harar, on the road to Somalia, there is a weekly camel market in a small town called Babille. The Somalian traders bring the camels across and in peak season there can be thousands of camels at the market. When there are that many camels in one place, it’s easy to see which camels are worth more money and which one are small and meager. Dotted amongst the camels, women in full burka haggle over prices for these prized animals and men count out stacks of cash. A vendor approaches me, “You should buy a camel. A male and a female.” I laugh. “What would I do with them?” He insists, “You should buy a camel. A male and a female. They are very good. You can use them for milk, for meat, carry things….They are very good.” I struggle to picture stuffing two camels into my NYC apartment and what my super would think of this most unexpected addition. “I can’t. I live in an apt in NYC. I don’t have room for camels.” He puzzles over a life that does not have the real-estate to accommodate camels and tries one last time (albeit far less convincingly), “You should buy a camel. They are very good.”
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