Wandering the Streets of Djibouti

Djibouti Travel Blog

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I woke up early on my day off, Friday, to go out and wander the town (alone)....I got what I think are some pretty good pictures that I would like to share with you guys.

The days are becoming very pleasant.  The mornings are very cool, I would say somewhere in the lower 80's.  I am not sure what is the reason, but the city fathers have decided to clean up the city.  I have noticed over the past several weeks that there is a concerted effort to pick up all the trash around town.  It even looks like a systematic planned approach that occurs at night.  There are of course still areas that need attention, but I give them a big thumbs up for the effort.

Friday is the same as a Saturday in the states.  So many places are closed most of the day.  I was not expecting to see much activity and was going to focus my photographic activity to the old French architecture. So I was surprised to find a bustle of activity at the city market, the non-tourist one.  This is were the 'terrorist' would hang out....so the paranoid would tell me.  The people are a mix of primarily Somali, Ethiopian, and Djiboutian.  The vegetables are all imported from Ethiopia; which is strange to me when I hear from western news agencies that they are having a famine.

As I walked around downtown curious people of course looked at me, I suppose I do sort of stick out.  At first most think I am an Arab, and then they think American--when I talk.  Which I have found a new technique to ward off the street sellers and beggars.  They speak to me in French or a little English, and I respond in SPANISH!  That throws them for a loop, they have no idea how to deal with it, so they wander off....I knew it would come in handy one day.

Eventually as I walked about I was asked to take a photo.

After a hour of wandering around I then left downtown and went out to the outskirts of town, to an adjoining town, Balbuda...This town is made up of 90% tin 'rusty' self built homes, no paved road very rocky...Very poor community that is served by the Muslim church. There are soccer games going on at every open spot.  I stopped at one and started taking pictures of the kids playing.  It is amazing to watch them run and maneuver the ball while wearing flip flop.  I hate flip flops because I can not walk in them, each time they twist my ankle, and here are these kids running and expertly handling a ball in those things; girls they do not look good on you.  Anyway the curious kids started coming over to see who I was.  None spoke French, but a couple spoke broken English.  I had a box of chewing gum so I handed it out, can you say "cattle call"?  Now I have a gang of kids with me.  They ask me where I am from, if I am American, if I am Muslim, my name, where I live now...It was very enjoyable experience.

Later in the evening I get a knock at my door of my apartment.  One of my co-workers tells me the Camp in in a lock down, and even though we live off base we are to remain on the property.  Later I am told there is a terrorist driving around downtown with a truck loaded with explosives.  This morning I talked with my buddies at Camp security and asked about the terrorist.  They looked at me like I was nuts.  No the reason for the lock down was that there was a big party at the base club, and the commander did not want a bunch of drunk GIs going off base and getting into trouble.....ha ha ha....that is how boring it is here, we have to make up 'stories'......
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photo by: Bluenose