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Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Plea To All Djiboutian Pedestrians!

In the course of my driving in Djibouti over two visits here, I have been shocked by the negligence of the pedestrians in this country.  Day after day after day, I grip my steering wheel tightly while praying I don't hit one of you.  So, I beg all of you to consider the following:

-It is perfectly fine to cross the road but check first to make sure no car is coming.  You should especially NOT step out right in front of a car.

-I realize there aren't enough sidewalks in Djibouti but walking on the side of the road is a preferable alternative to walking in the middle of the road.

-You should be even more cautious during rainy weather, fog, and at night.  This cuts down on driver reaction time and will more likely result in injury.

-Yes, pedestrians have the right of way but do not have the right of conducting a meeting as far as I know.  When you have a party in the middle of the road, it makes it even more difficult for drivers to avoid you.

I don't know what your motives are in conducting yourselves so carelessly when it comes to interacting with hurtling vehicles.  However, I can tell you it will come to no good.  The driver who hits/kills you may have to pay compensation in a civil action but it won't benefit you if you have already left this earth.  So, please be more cautious when walking along these dangerous highways.

As for Djiboutian drivers, you're doing a much better job even better than where I come from.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Decan Cheetah Refuge7



These are the last of the pictures--a hyena and a hungry lion!  I'll try to acquire some photos of downtown Djibouti in the next few days.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Deflated Expectations

Well, sort of.  I came home from work ready to start the weekend off right.  I soon left my hotel room and went downstairs to hop in my car.  I noticed when I started to pull out, some unknown Djiboutian began violently signaling me to stop.  This happens all the time and I ignored him for fear he was going to ask me for money.  I then proceeded to the embassy to cash a check.  When I parked there, I noticed that one of my tires was almost flat and had a nail in it!  I guess this was what the stranger wanted to tell me.  Oh well, I avoided having to tip him for the information.

Anyway, I got some cash and then told my supervisor about the tire.  I was going to try to make it to a gas station but he insisted on helping me change it.  Together, we got it done in about 10 minutes, faster than a lot of pit crews!  After that, I drove to "Pyramid Rental Cars" and they repaired the tire in about 15 minutes.  Everything was so efficient, I almost appreciated being here.  Almost!

Actually, it's not that bad.  I even got to mark off the list one of the hundred things I must do before I die--change a flat tire in Djibouti!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Decan Cheetah Refuge6



This ostrich was mean but the zebra was tame enough.  I'll be posting more pictures of the various animals we saw over the next few days.  The cheetah refuge isn't just for cheetahs!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Esquire Article On Djibouti

This an amazing article on Djibouti from '06.  It focuses on the khat trade but also provides a lot of insight into what I endure every day (usually with a smile on my face).  Anyway, please read it and let me know what your impressions are.

Here's the link:

http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0906KHAT_182

Friday, April 15, 2011

Decan Cheetah Refuge5


This is really a 'thorny' issue to bring up.  But, when walking through the Djiboutian bush, you have to worry about other things besides the animals.  These thorns can really do damage to clothes and hurt a lot when making contact with the skin.  Click on the picture to get a good look at these.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Night On The Town

Sort of?  Last night, I decided to take a walk in downtown Djibouti.  I prefer going out at night here for a number of reasons.  It tends to be cooler at night and the shops are all open.  The sounds and smells seem more exotic as well.  But, the best part of walking at night is the camouflage effect it provides.  Walking in the dark decreases the reaction time of the touts on the street who can only shout out offers after I've passed.  For example, last night, I was long past the guy who shouted "What do you want?!  What do you want?!" followed by "Massage! Massage!"  I assume he didn't want to give me a massage himself but wanted to take me into one of the various 'bars' while collecting his commission.  In the meantime, I would have been competing with the likes of legionnaires and Somali pirates for the affections of some Ethiopian lady.  No thank you!  I continued down the street and heard another offer from behind.  This was from several old women shouting "Khat, Khat!"  They pronounced it as /jot/ which kind of threw me off.  It's the local legal drug that is flown in every day from Ethiopia.  I also declined this offer since I didn't want to risk passing out on these unfriendly streets.  Finally, I dove into the sole Vietnamese restaurant in Djibouti and had dinner.  Odd, that a Vietnamese restaurant alleviates homesickness and functions as a sort of oasis for the expats here.

I think I'll go out tonight as well:)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Decan Cheetah Refuge4



I really liked these two fellas but the wire looked a little thin!  The female lion was dining when I took the picture and didn't even seem to notice me.  The male seemed scared as he refused to come closer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Road Less Traveled

Or, it should be.  On Tuesday night, I decided the road I drive to work every day wasn't exciting enough.  I mean granted, it is a bad road with terrible drivers and there are also many obstacles to overcome.  For example, there are numerous kinds of livestock such as sheep, goats, and camels that cross the road at will.  There are also the ubiquitous wild dogs and even a stray hyena or two.  Oh, I forgot the people who walk in the middle of the road as if it belongs to them rather than the vehicles.  Throw in falling rocks and blinding fog and you get an idea of what my daily drive is like.

So, how did I make it more exciting?  Well, due to a cold and nagging cough, I literally did not sleep on Tuesday night.  So, I had to drive 45-minutes through all of the above, work a full day, and drive back on zero sleep.  That definitely made the drive more exciting!

By the way, I drive a 'Kia Rio' over here.  If both I and the car survive, I'm going to write Kia and offer my self up for an ad campaign.  It will start something like this, "He and his Kia survived six months in the wilds of Africa . . ."  Maybe I'll become famous like Jared in the Subway commercials!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Decan Cheetah Refuge3



Yikes!  That wire looks awfully thin!  I hope the cheetah is looking for the prey in the second picture and not for me.  Click the pictures to get a magnified view.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Decan Cheetah Refuge2



In the first picture, you see a traditional safari hut mounted on stilts.  In the second, you can see rocks marking the path we were told to stay on no matter what.  We were also told not to pick up the rocks as scorpions quite often hide beneath them!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Decan Cheetah Refuge


There's an interesting story behind this refuge.  Apparently, a Somali cheetah was rescued at the port in Djibouti and turned over to a local veterinarian.  He nursed it back to health and then came up with the idea of establishing this refuge.  Visitors, who pay to enter and buy souvenirs, support the project and this in turn has caused it to grow to its current size.  FYI, this refuge is about a 30-minute drive south of Djibouti City and only about 20kms from the Somaliland border.

The first picture is the entrance to the refuge and the second is a typical tree you see in this part of Djibouti.  I will be posting pictures of the animals (the stars of the show) in the coming days.