Archive for the ‘Djibouti’ Category

Djibouti

March 12, 2010

We landed in Djibouti.  Djibouti is strange.  Because of prayers, everything is closed on Fridays.  The entire city is empty. 

The vibe of Djibouti is a little different.  It definitely has an edge to it.  Addis was lush and green, Djibouti is hot and desert like.  The price of everything is also 4 to 5 times higher.  We walked about 45 minutes to the Gulf of Aden.  I was really shocked to find out that the water was hotter than most people enjoy their baths.  The sand was also black. 

We got to sit and talk with a few locals chewing khat in the afternoon.  These were the guys running the local shop.  They were nice, but they definitely had an interesting sales pitch.  We watched them yell at all the would-be customers until they got uncomfortable and left. 

Djibouti is still adapting to the very large American military base that was built very soon after September 11th.  The base employs a lot of the population, and the feelings are definitely mixed about it.  The little bit of Arabic I’ve learned has definitely come in handy.

For those curious about the gluten content of the local cuisine, there are very few options here.  There are the fast food type foods that are safe enough.  Eat your heart out:

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Visas arranged, we are in transit

March 11, 2010

Four days have past in Ethiopia, and my travel partner and I are at the airport on our way to Djibouti City, Djibouti. Addis is a great city! However we spent most of the last four days taking care of logistics. We had to get visas from the Somaliland liason office and we managed to tweak our schedule enough to accomodate an extra country: Yemen. I am so excited to see Sana’a, Yemen. It has been on my wish list for some time now, and since we are here on the horn of Africa, it just makes sense to get it out of the way now. The Somaliland visa took exactly 11 minutes. Those eleven minutes also included an interview with the consular general who explained that Somaliland was the safest place on earth, and that we wouldn’t have any problems. It is important to know that he does have a horse in this race. The Yemen visa was a series of jumping through hoops to make the visa agent comfortable with us. First we had to go obtain a letter from our embassy that recognized and applauded the Republic of Yemen, then we had to change $27 (no more, no less) from USD to Ethiopian Birr and obtain a receipt. Then we had to come back between the hours of 12:00 and 1:30 and leave our passports. Twenty-seven dollars. This would make some sense if $27 was the price of the visa, but no, not even close.

So now we are at the airport on our way to the “hottest city on earth.” Unfortunately they are not talking about the club scene. It is just really hot. One thing that I forgot to mention about Addis Ababa – the elevation. Addis sits at over 8,000 ft. That is almost twice the elevation of Denver. The lack of oxygen when you leave the airplane is no joke. We have both been wheezing around Addis like 70 year old smokers. That’s all for now, we’ll see how Djibouti goes.