It’s really fun to say Djibouti. I keep finding myself just saying the word over and over-you should try it, it’s kind of fun. It’s also spelled neatly and one of those places, kind of like Timbuktu, that you’ve always heard of and never really knew exactly where it was or that people actually went or lived there. But alas, I have discovered that there are a lot of people here: the local Djiboutians who are extremely hospitable and very nice, many French expats and businessman, a ton of smugglers moving goods into and out of Africa and into the Middle East and Europe and a huge US military presence. There is a huge base here strategically located where the Middle East meets Africa-not to mention Somaliland is about 20 miles away from where I am right now. But Djibouti has a lot of character and charm on its own merit and is quite surprisingly to me-really, really nice.
I arrived here yesterday and have spent most of my time here checking out the nice beaches and variety of watersports that they have going on here. In fact, right outside my hotel is a huge area for kitesurfing which I tried today for the first time. It’s not as easy as it looks even if you have surfed or windsurfed before. It’s a totally different dynamic as I found out but a lot of fun nonetheless.
The majority of the country lies on the coast with two little islands positioned within the country’s natural cove. The islands are great for diving and snorkeling and just to get away from the mainland for a few hours.
The city of Djibouti which is also the capital of this small country is very pleasant and has a very safe feel to it. It actually has a good layout and infrastructure and the tree lined streets are very nice to walk down. The city is also small enough where you can walk the whole thing and end up at the beach at the end to take a dip because it may only be February but it’s hot here.
There are the usual souvenir shops where you can get all your African souveniers that you can get all over the continent but the people don’t hassle you as much as other places I have been. Djibouti is also way more expensive than many other places-especially in East Africa-that is of course thanks to the French in one of their many positive contributions to Africa, haha.
But all in all the people have been the best part of Djibouti for me. I was invited to a cocktail reception last night with the manager of my hotel and some of his “distinguished” guests. I think I am the only platinum Starwood member that they have ever seen here at this Sheraton they have here, because they really for no reason rolled out the red carpet for me-sending bottles of wine and fruits to my room, etc. I really appreciated it but after battling brutal stomach issues the past several days I was unable to really take advantage of their hospitality. However, their efforts were duly noted and I would recommend anyone to stay here when they are in Djibouti-I am sure it’s high up on everyones vacation list!
Anyway, I am now just killing time here in the hotel, where they have very graciously let me check out at 9pm for my flight tonight at 11pm to Sana’a, Yemen which will be the final new country on my trip. I am really looking forward to the “best city in Arabia” or so I’ve been told. We shall see-stay tuned.