June 20, 2006 9 Comments
My brother and I have been in Djibouti for the past six hours or so and I am already in love with the city. In the first place, after more than fifteen winters in the US and the UK, there is nothing I enjoy better than extreme, humid heat. To celebrate, I foolishly went out for a run this afternoon in the 40 degrees plus heat. Of course after a few steps, I settled on a sluggish walk about the city. It is beautiful: Moorish architecture, wide, clean streets and a long, curving driveway along a beautiful Red Sea beach. How strangely the future can turn out. If you had told me that I would be here six months ago I would have said you were insane. I am here with my brother who is all of 22 years old and studying astrophysics just outside London. He is one of the better travel companions I have ever had even though he keeps trying to get me to understand why string theory should excite me when I cannot even get beyond the fulcrum. But he makes such a good counterpoint to me on the road with his soft touch and polite manner when I can sometimes tend to be a bit barky and anxious. We are here through Thursday and I am already sorry to be leaving. More details tomorrow and possibly even some photos.
48 Hours and Counting
Ok, I have been in town for the last two days and I am hoping that I could spend a lot more time here in the future. I just returned from having an amazing dinner at a restaurant called 7 Freres. Our host recommended we have fresh fish baked in a clay oven and smeared in spices and lemon. On the side was roti bread, honey and pounded, ripe banana which we washed down with cold beer. Then we followed a huge crowd making its way to the People’s Palace (if I remember the name right) where there is an open air concert being held by a Congolese lingala band.
Djibouti is a country that feels like it is on the brink of getting wealthy. One of its great boons is the standoff between Eritrea and Ethiopia which has made the latter unwilling or able to use its traditional Eritrean port. Perhaps more importantly, the government officials with whom I have had a chance to interact seem keenly conscious of their duty to facilitate the trading desire of their people and take advantage of the country’s strategic position in the Red Sea. Then the large French and American military bases are a huge revenue earner though there is clearly a social price being paid by having thousands of heavily muscled, horny and aggressive young men with money rampaging about.