Somaliland Stirred, Djibouti Shaken

Picture of Market in Djibouti that cost me dearly

Picture of Market in Djibouti that cost me dearly

May 2009

(We get no peanuts, but we do get to Djibouti on time.)

…my hopes are soon dashed…  If this is French colonial glory, then I’m Napoleon in rags… French legacy of high prices and pretentiousness only…  airport itself offers the first clue, single exchange office only opening after the guy can be found to service his single customer, me…  $30 three-day transit visa or $60 thirty-day visa, decisions decisions…

Downtown not much better, squalid and dirty… much higher prices than neighboring countries.  Cabbies obnoxious, driving old green-and-white honkers that they like to back down the street in…  room has A/C and TV, though, and enough room to exercise if I want, something I’ve foregone for many days for lack of adequate food and water.  Refugees don’t work out.  My mental condition is deteriorating… got to plan my escape…

Faded Glory in Djibouti

Faded Glory in Djibouti

…bus back to Ethiopia sounds sketchy… two days to Addis Ababa unattractive already, not to mention another two days to Lalibela.  Are we having fun yet?  …hot as a season in Hell, too.  What would Rimbaud do?  Chill Hardie chill.

Ethiopian Airlines has monopoly on flights to Addis, OW $400+.  Ouch!  RT ONLY $300+.  Huh?  Okay.  I know the power of the empty seat, simple decimal place notation, and the blessings of omission… hardly the $100 cheapie I’m looking for, but still beats suicide, at least in this heat…  if they take credit cards, then I’m on the plane.  They do.  Whirr birr thank you sir.  My mental condition immediately improves.  I celebrate with a whole roast chicken.

But there’s more:

DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS IN DJIBOUTI, OF ANY THING ANYWHERE ANY TIME!

Djibouti Center

Djibouti Center

For some reason this makes the locals livid.  There may be a permit you can obtain, but I wouldn’t bother as you may end up having to show it to every Harry Dick and Tom who can walk semi-erect.  I found this out the hard way, held for ransom by some ape with blind justice in mind and dollar signs in his eyes.  I’m too old for this sh*t.  He seemed very concerned as to whether I’m Russian or not, “AMERICA NUMBER ONE!”  No, I do not make this sh*t up.

I’m reading the Qur’an now in self-penitence, looking for a clue… all about Moses and Ibrahim and…hey, wait a minute!  Guidebooks won’t tell you when a place sucks; I will.  They’ll act like Djibouti is the Promised Land; I won’t.  I could write the guidebook on Djibouti in one word: “sucks.”  It should make interesting reading.

Plane from Hargeisa to Djibouti

Plane from Hargeisa to Djibouti

I’m waiting for air-evac today, aka Ethiopia flight 603.  Till then I’ll survive on cheap coconut bread, the one bright spot in an otherwise dismal urban landscape.  Coconut meat is supposed to be a natural laxative; there, I’m relaxed.  They can’t even make a decent cup of coffee here; even Somaliland had that.  Djibouti could have used more Italians, less French, but I guess it’s too late for that.  Sic transit gloria, g-l-o-r-i-a…

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