Well, I’m wrapping up my first week in Africa, and it has been an incredibly interesting and educational experience! I’ve met some very interesting people, and seen some incredible things. It has been an eye-opening experience, to be sure! The vast spectrum of types and qualities of life that people lead around the world is incredible. I’ve visited the capital as well as a few other parts of the country this week, and feel lucky to have seen as much as I have. It has put a lot of things into context for me and has given me a lot to think about as I strategize to find the best way to meet the goals I have been given, the next time I come back to Africa.
The landscape here is arid and beautiful, and supports a surprising amount of wildlife. Driving along from the capital city (Djiboutiville) to another city on the coast, we came across baboons, many camels, donkeys, lizards and goats. Oh, the goats. They really are everywhere!!! The camels are also everywhere, as they are raised both for export and domestic consumption. They are a source of meat, milk and can be used for transportation of either people or goods. The milk is supposed to be very low in fat, and high in calcium. They are also raised in Ethiopia, and some here attribute the fact that Ethiopians are so tall and lean (and often strikingly beautiful) to the fact that they eat camel meat and drink a lot of camel milk. I guess the a revision of the old slogan is in order: Camel Milk. It does a body good!
Not all of the animals roaming about are being bred though. Among the really wild animals (though they might be used to having humans around) are the baboons we encountered along the roadside.
We stopped to snap a few photos and they were just as curious about us as we were about them!! They just sat there and stared at us in our vehicles, and started to come towards the vehicle as we snapped our shots. Of course, as soon as they got too close we closed the windows – they’re wild animals after all, and there’s no predicting what they could do or are capable of. Yes, they’re cute, but they can be vicious!! Especially if they feel threatened, I think. And coming into their turf with our big cars might have made them feel that way! But regardless, looking at these animals sitting along the roads, just watching us make our trip was very exciting.
On the way to the port town of Obock, we stopped at a little hotel along the way for one night for dinner and to crash for the night, so we didn’t have to make the whole trip to Obock in one day. The hotel was a far cry from my fancy hotel in Djibouti city, but I suppose that was to be expected. It was a step above a hostel, so that’s good, though I think my days of staying at sketchy hostels are officially behind me now! This definitely put the nail in that coffin! Anyway, after a not so restful night, thanks to (in part) the loud air conditioning unit, and the fact that I had a lot on my mind, we had breakfast at the hotel. I mention the breakfast because I thought it was interesting – it was toast with a tomato jam. Tomato jam was much better than I expected it to be! It was actually pretty good. Then we were off to Obock where we looked around a little bit for the morning, before going on to Tadjoura for lunch on the way back. The lunch in Tadjoura was phenomenal!
I had “petit poisson” – small fish. It was small pieces of a meaty (kind of swordfish-like texture) fish, with some veggies, onions, and seasonings (I think there was some curry in there – and I’m not usually a huge curry fan, so that says a lot! It really was just the right mix of seasonings!) with a side of fries, and with a bottle of water, it all still came to less than $2!!! Wow, was I ever getting ripped off for meals in the fancy hotel!!
Anyway, the drive home was baboon-free, and less eventful, and I was glad to check back into the fancy hotel where I napped before meeting up with some of the other people I’ve met here to go out for a night on the town. But maybe I’ll share those stories later….. for now, I’m at the airport in Paris on my way back from Djibouti, so further postings about the rest of my trip will have to wait until I’m home.
Signing off for now,
the Travelling Chitalian