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Friday, May 27, 2011

Delicious Moroccan Food

One week ago, I was invited to the apartment of a Moroccan co-worker for dinner.  Following the American custom, I normally eat my dinner between 5-6pm but waited till 8pm to begin this meal.  It all started with snacks including nuts, dates, and other fruits.  They were tasty but I didn't want to spoil what I knew would be a big dinner so I tried not to eat too many of these.  When the meal was served, it began with an appetizer called 'Bastilla' which tasted a bit like dessert.  The main course was a dish called 'Cous Cous,' a mixture of some type of wheat extract with beef and assorted vegetables.  All in all, it was a very delicious meal and the first time I'd experienced Moroccan food.

The conversation was interesting as well and the event makes me want to visit this country some day.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just Monkeying Around . . .

. . . on a Thursday afternoon.  I have no desire to go outside now what with the touts and oppressive heat.  The guys in the picture have the right idea

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SOS!!! Please Help!

What should I do in the following situation?

Yesterday, one of the clerks at my hotel asked if he could speak with me. He seemed really upset so I agreed. What a story he told me! He began to speak of the new French manager and how things were changing under her regime. I was aware of her but didn't really know who she was as the hotel has never really seemed to have a manager or, one I ever knew about. Anyway, he told me she has instituted several new rules to improve hotel operations. First of all, no one is allowed to sleep while on duty! Can you imagine! The clerk is not even permitted to sleep at night! When asked for her rationale for such a spartan rule, she exclaimed that hotel security is compromised when the clerk is asleep. Apparently, this person asked if he could sleep as long as he kept his shoes on allowing him to give chase after any thief immediately. The manager replied that he could not sleep under any circumstances because doing so while on duty was also very unprofessional and didn't look good in front of the guests. I think she is being totally unreasonable on this issue.

Another new rule, when a guest makes a request, the hotel employee must strive to fulfill this request as soon as possible. To facilitate this, under no circumstances are the clerks permitted to leave the phone off the hook due to it's ringing too much. The employees should also never try to barter something in return for fulfilling the request. They were told this is part of their job and not something they are doing on their own time.

There were other rules established but those were the two most egregious. But, you haven't heard the worst yet! This manager has even taken measures to cut off the revenue stream of the hotel employees! For example:

*The TV technician is not allowed to manipulate the channel selections (all Somali language channels) in order to elicit bribes from guests who prefer other channels

*The security guards must stop others (or themselves) from letting air out of guests' tires with the hope of then receiving funds to replace the air

*Finally, the maids cannot cull discarded magazines from guests' trash cans and resell them at magazine shops in the city

What is it with this manager?! Is she the Ayatollah of all managers or what? Anyway, I seek your sage advice for how to handle this situation. A dark cloud is now hovering over this hotel and me and the other guests are on suicide watch for the hotel employees. I don't know if they're going to survive these draconian measures and I'm seriously thinking about reporting this to a human rights organization.

Hopefully, someone, somewhere on this vast planet can help me solve this problem.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Of Taxis And Men

Three years ago, I wrote about taxis in Djibouti and how they constantly harrass you when you're walking down the street.  They don't seem to understand when you DON'T need a taxi nor how you could never provide them with a destination when you're exactly where you want to be.  Well, another fact about DJ taxis struck me the other day.  In both my trips to Djibouti, I don't think I've ever seen anyone riding in a taxi!  Of course, someone must hail them and pay or how would they stay in business?  Gas is about $6/gallon here so how could they drive around all day with no customers?  Could it be the government is subsidising all these taxis to drive around, toot their horns, and all in all, annoy the crap out of pedestrians!  This is a mystery I must solve before I leave Djibouti again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Down And Out In Djibouti

Or, at least my blog was!  For the past few days, I was unable to access this site.  Every time I clicked the link or typed in the address, I would be redirected to ""  Then, I started getting a blank page.  Finally, I was able to access it again.  I hope to post some pictures in the next few days.