Djibouti is not so expensive

Djibouti Travel Blog

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Shopping at the Market
I have read several reports of Djibouti being an expensive place to live, or visit, as well as being dirty and nasty.  I have lived here for nearly 6 months outside of Camp Lemonier where I work and I think I can speak to the other side of this story. 

Over the past couple of years I have traveled to a couple of places around the USA, Europe, and Africa.  Unlike many of my countrymen I do not mind the local Motel 6, or La Quinta (since my dog goes with me).  When I travel with US government workers it is always amazing to me how spoiled people can be, throwing their nose up at anything less than a Marriott; another story. 

I prefer local establishments with a clean bed, because I am looking for a place to sleep not watch TV or go swimming.  When I eat it is at places where the tourist do not go.
Local's Market
 

In Djibouti I was forced to live off base (Camp Lemonier) because lack of facilities also called Container Living Units (CLU).  These CLUs are metal transport boxes with the ambiance of a prison cell.  The place I got to live is a 1500 sq ft apartment, with kitchen, living room, and 2 baths, built in a middle eastern architecture style within walking distance of the French market.  A man delivers french bread every morning and evening for .15 cents a loaf.....yes let me repeat, that is fresh baked FRENCH BREAD for .1 5 C E N T S per loaf delivered.  Wow, doesn't that sound expensive?  I will go broke at those prices.  A walk to the French market and you will find a vegetable stand, where yes the prices are a little higher than at the French market or those you find in the old town market.
Market
  300 Djiboutian Franks will get you a pound of tomatoes; that is around $1.75.  In the French market things are a bit higher than you would find at your local grocery store.  I can buy enough groceries to last me a week for around $40, because I have taken up the diet of the locals I can actually get away with half of that if I wanted too. 

Restaurants/cafes are fairly inexpensive as well.  Unless you want something that is similar to the US or Europe.  But I have to inform you, you are NOT in the US or Europe so stop trying to compare.  A good Djiboutian cafe/restaurant will run you around $15 for meal and drinks.  For those of you who are 'scared' of the potential for germs go to a street vendor, watch how they cook your food and get a great HUGE sandwich for $2.00.  The Camp Lemonier crowd may think they are safe by eating at DFAC (dining facility), and I would have to categorically say you should rethink that.
Local's Market
  I have gotten severely ill 1 time, and moderately ill 4 times eating at the DFAC.  Co-employees, and friends in the military have told me of the numbers of times they have been bitten by the DFAC bug.  I have not gotten sick since I stopped eating there, so as you sit in the john wincing in pain remember my words--it is not where you eat it is how the food is prepared.

The price of the all expense paid Villa is $750/month, which includes security (not really needed), electric, water, maid, etc. 

As far as being dirty, yes the city in general is a mess.  Downtown is old and needing modernization.  The main streets are pretty much cleaned up, while the ethnic neighborhoods are a mess.  I do not think a real traveler is looking for Salzburg when coming to a African country.

Yes, it is true, there are 3 price levels in Djibouti:  1-American, 2-French, 3-Djibouti prices going from highest to lowest.  As an American I have found that there is a way to get around this issue by not doing what you guys do or go where you guys go:-)
tjclassic8482 says:
I love looking at those photos. Look like a very dry place but is very beautiful.
Posted on: May 25, 2010
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Shopping at the Market
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