A Good Time, A Bad Time, A Djibouti Time
Trip Start Aug 05, 2006
55Trip End Aug 19, 2007
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Where I stayed
In Djibouti City we split up with the French couple going to their apartment and the Japanese guy catching a bus to Ethiopia. John, Brian, and I checked into the Horseed Hotel which is one of the "cheapest" hotels in the city. One thing you should know about Djibouti before coming here is that prices are equivalent to or greater than prices in Europe. Djibouti is a very small country and as far as I know does not produce anything
Djibouti is not geared for budget tourism yet and to reach most popular spots you have to rent a 4x4 which can be very expensive. As a former French colony the second language here is French, not English, and the capital contains some fine examples of French architecture giving it a similar feel to the French Quarter in New Orleans.
After a few days relaxing in the capital the three of us caught a khat boat headed for Tadjoura on the opposite side of the gulf bearing the same name. When arriving at the docks in Tadjoura we were greeted by a large crowd of restless people who had been waiting several hours for their daily supply of drugs to be delivered. While in Tadjoura we stayed at one of the worst value hotels, $66 per night, I can remember. We also met with a man named Mohammed who agreed to take us around for a day to see the major sites for $120.
The following morning we left to see Lac Assal, Bay of Ghoubbet, and Lac Abbe
Our first major problem stated when we reached Dikhil, a small town about 35km from Lac Abbe. Mohammed asked us for more money than we originally agreed to pay and then refused to take us any further if we didn't give him more money. After fighting about it for a while and ruining our relationship he agreed to take us to Ali Sabieh which is near to the Ethiopian border. After a few months experience in Africa it is disappointing fact I must admit that it is almost impossible to fully trust anyone here. Although I have met many genuine people that have been very kind and helpful I have also met many who seem that way but later turn out to be cheats. The problem is that you can often never tell who is being genuine and who is a cheat
When we arrived at the only hotel in town several others came out and took Mohammed's side saying we should pay him more. We again argued for over an hour before finally giving him half of the remaining balance we owed. After he left we had to pay again for another overpriced room since it was the only hotel in town. Upon leaving the next morning a man at the hotel, who had been bothering us the night before, followed us into town as we were looking for a bus to the border. Although John told him several times in French to go away the man still would not listen and as we stopped to talk with some others he told them he was our guide and they should get lost. This pissed off John to the point where he started pushing the man back and yelling at him. I think the whole town must have been watching the incident unfold. Finally he left and we got a minibus to the border.
Now my bad luck was really starting to begin. After arriving at the border the official told me my visa had expired and I had to go back to Djibouti City to get a new visa
I arrived back in Djibouti City late in the afternoon and found a dingy hotel for about $16 per night. The next morning after 3 trips back and forth to immigration I was finally allowed to turn in my application for a new visa. The man then told me to come back after two days. Two days! I just wanted to get out of Djibouti. So I sat around the rest of the day and by evening I started to feel really sick to my stomach. When checking my temperature I found it to be nearly 103 degrees. I decided to head to the hospital to make sure that I wasn't developing malaria or some other dangerous ailment. After a few hours in the emergency room the doctor informed me I just had a bad stomach virus and gave me some medicine.
I returned to the hotel feeling a little better but about an hour after I went to sleep I was awakened by a terribly pain in my stomach
After this I could not help but laugh as I was sure that at any moment I would be struck by lightning. Well, I lived and finally on the third day received my visa so I could escape Djibouti once and for all. Luckily there was a train leaving for Dire Dawa in Ethiopia that evening and I quickly packed my things and headed to the train station.