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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Travelogue Djibouti (2)

Written on November 15, 2007. Please see link below for pictures.

Hi, Everyone!

Here is another entry from Djibouti, the country you've always wanted to know more about but were afraid to ask!

This time, I've enclosed some pictures and I'll explain these in the end. Right now, I just want to note some observations I've made in my first few weeks here. This may seem like stream of consciousness because I just finished a one hour walk in the blazing, afternoon sun. And, this is supposed to be winter time!

One thing unusual I've noticed is how the locals alternate between different languages. In some countries where more than one language is prevalent, you'll often hear vocabulary from different languages peppered into the speech. But, in Djibouti, you may hear Arabic exclusively for a period of time and then French and then some incomprehensible language that I assume is Somali and/or another tribal language. All of these are used between two people in conversation with no signals indicating when a language change is called for. I'll have to learn several languages to communicate here.

It's really convenient having access to an American military base. I'm able to shop at the BX, eat at the cafeteria, do my laundry, etc. One really nice perk is MWR. They schedule tours outside the city so you don't have to worry about finding your own way. I've signed up for an island tour for next weekend and this should yield some good pictures. I did drive to a town named 'Arta' which is about 30 minutes from Djibouti city. It was up in the mountains and overlooked the sea. I want to visit there again in the near future to stop and enjoy it for a while.

About my car, the embassy rented a Nissan 'Sunny' for me. It's actually quite a nice car or so I've been told by the Marine guards at Camp Lemonier. I drive it to work every day (about 10 km away) and to the American base. It's nice being mobile as I always relied on public transportation in my first two MTTs.

I won't say too much about the driving except for the following. The embassy told me that if I hit any livestock, don't offer to pay right away. Apparently, they will get involved and negotiate a fair price!

No McDonalds, no BK, no Pizza Hut, etc., but they have a Planet Hollywood right downtown! Why a Planet Hollywood? That's a little obscure, isn't it?

http://picasaweb.google.com/mccoy4984/TravelogueDjibouti2

The first picture is the downtown market where primarily fruit is sold. I'm not too happy with how these pictures turned out. I think it was the wrong time of day. Anyway, the second picture is taken from the terrace of a coffee shop and points to the PH that I mentioned above. The final picture is the view from my hotel window.

As always, I hope to hear from you with any questions/comments. All the best, Russ

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