Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in Djibouti

Happy Thanksgiving from Djibouti!

Would you believe stores already have Christmas decorations up?  Sure you could believe that.  But what if you lived in a country where the majority of the citizens were Muslims?  Honestly, it caught me a little by surprise.  But, the stores do have a strong French and American clientele.  So, it was a pleasant surprise.  And lets face it, Djibouti needs some evergreen trees!  Even if they will only last about a month.

Christmas tree outside the liquor store.  They also had little floating Santa's hung from the ceiling.

The traditions of Thanksgiving in the United States are almost non-existent overseas.  We can't wake up and gather in the living room in our PJ's to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Or even gather after our big meal to watch some football.  Because when we wake up, the majority of the US is headed for bed.  And the parade will be starting right about when we are going to bed.  But even if we stayed up late to watch it.. we don't have any channel to watch it (as our AFN signal has been down for months.. AFN is Armed Forces Network).  My daughter has been talking for a couple weeks about not being able to see the parade on Thanksgiving Day.  Who would have thought that such small traditions we take for granted back in the states would be noticed missing?

But then there are those here overseas that don't have their own TV to gather around.  Those that are stationed at Camp Lemmonier here in Djibouti, some live in communal tents, and some are a little more comfortable in CLU's (Container Living Unit.. picture a removable container on the back of semi-trucks turned into a bedroom).  But they can gather at the Rec area and watch AFN with others that are off duty.  But of course, not everyone will be off duty during that time.  Someone has to stay on guard duty, right?

Photo from
16-person tent at Camp Lemmonier

Photo from
CLU's at Camp Lemmonier
This Thanksgiving we woke up and our neighbors of the compound were outside having a kiddie pool playday.  Why not?  It's a perfect 84 degrees outside!  The kids gathered and had so much fun in the shady part of the compound.  Soaking each other with their pool toys.

And we also decided to dine with the troops at the galley (Navy base chow hall).  We were told they have 170 turkeys that will be served during both lunch and dinner!  But when we showed up to the galley, it as if it had been transformed!  It was amazing!  Decorations everywhere, even with nice table cloths arranged in red, white, and blue.  Fall leaves hung everywhere, and creative food art!  Even one of the employees was dressed in an Indian costume.  I was once again, pleasantly surprised. 

Gator bread anyone?

And then we get to the food line.  All of the officers were behind the line serving the troops their meal.  

Officers behind the line serving us and the troops our meals.

And there was so much food!  Not just turkey!  But also salmon, roast pig, duck, and ham.  And oh, sweet potatoes!  They don't have those available locally.  And deviled eggs, and spiced meat balls.. all the fixins'!  I couldn't fit all of what they were offering on my plate.  I heard someone say when they got to the salad line, "Who has room for salad today?"  The only complaint was that they ran out of rolls before we got there.  Such a feast!  I think it is the best meal I've had in a very long time!  And no, I couldn't eat EVERYTHING on my plate.  But I felt that I had to try some of it all, because it was such a special treat!

A "hull" of plenty.  We are on a Navy base after all.  The other half is filled with more fruit at the other end of the galley.

Want some pie and eggnog?  There were about five different types of pies!  And of course, ice cream was available.

We just happened to sit at a table with other Airmen, most of them were currently deployed from Georgia.  And yes, several people shouted "Little people!  We don't see those around here too often!"  And many were in happy spirits despite being so far from home.  But I assure you, they are all being fed well today.  I think it is now time for one American tradition.. taking a nap after eating so much food!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  Let the holiday season begin!

Djibouti - 84 degrees

Friday, July 19, 2013

Drive-by pictures of Djibouti

I'm currently home in the US for the summer with my kids.  We get one free trip home per tour.  So, I figured our trip home.. we would escape the summer heat.  We heard stories that the temperature is in the 120 degree range from May - September.  Before we left at the end of June, it only got up as high as 117 that I ever saw, but the "feels like" always seemed hotter with the humidity.  And this time of year, there is also dust storms to deal with.  So, I'm not sad that I'm missing THAT!

Visiting with my friends here in the states, they said they wanted to see more of the "everyday" life of the locals.  So, the photographer that I love to be.. why yes, I have pictures that I have taken while in a car.  Some of them are taken by me, some of them are taken by my oldest daughter.  But all (other than two that are taken from the top of my roof) are taken from the car as we drove by.  So.. enjoy!

The beach the locals go to.

A public bus

The row of cars in the middle of the street are parked there.

This type of tents are set up everywhere.  They are cooking and serving food.  Where the locals go for snacks and their lunch breaks.

You see customers are sitting on their bench.

People walk in the street, even though there is a sidewalk with lots of room.

School just got out.  Yes, kids ride in taxi cabs by themselves.

The buses on the right are school buses.

Kids picking up after school snacks.

The blue shack is a Djibouti mini-mart.. however, not all of these shacks have a refrigerator.. so if you buy a Coke, it might be hot.  And let me tell you... a hot Coke is not refreshing at all!

This is one of the supermarkets.  It is the newest one in town, very expensive.  Mostly the French shop here.  It even has a pastry stand inside.  Very nice.  Oh.. and the only place I've been able to find recycling of plastic bottles and soda cans.  That is about all you can recycle in Djibouti.

Sunset from my rooftop.

Lantern on my rooftop at Sunset.  Can you can hear the Muslim call to prayer in the distance?  (Well, imagine you can).

A quiet part of town.

Trash is everywhere.

Mosque tower near the Port of Djibouti.


Digging through the trash.

Barbed wires are everywhere.

People live here.

My daughter took this.  But, I'm posting to show the water in the street.  There are no sewer drains in a city where it rarely rains.

One of MANY khat stands.  Khat is a local legal drug.  It comes in the form of leaves.  Turns teeth red.

The only driving law in Djibouti is "Don't turn right at a red light."  If something is in someone's way.. feel free to drive wherever you'd like to get around it.  Someone ran into a telephone pole here (see below).  I think it might have been a police truck that had the accident.

Dogs are homeless too.  Most Djiboutians DO NOT like dogs.  So, there are a lot of homeless dogs in the city.

Another view of the beach the locals go to.

The beach the locals go to.  On a Friday (their holy day), this place is PACKED.  They put up beach volleyball, everyone is in the street.. you can't even drive by (which is why I don't have a picture of it packed yet.)

Hope you enjoyed these sights of Djibouti.  I hope my friend that requested "pictures of the locals" is satisfied.

10:30am in Djibouti, 99 degrees "feels like 105".  Hmm.. not too hot yet.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Baboons & The drive to Arta Plage (Beach) & Arta

The drive to Arta Plage (French for beach) took a few years off my life.  This was an off-road trek.  And our car is considered an SUV, however.. it is not an off-road SUV.  Our car bottomed out quite a few times.  We drive a Honda CRV.  So, I don't recommend this trip if you don't have a tall vehicle.  Unless.. you don't care about the bottom of your car.

Before we got off the highway, we FINALLY saw baboons!

Look at the cute babies!

Oh.. and some more camels across the street.

Once in a while you see someone carrying things on their heads.. or strapped to their backs.  She is gathering firewood, as the people in this area cook everything over a fire.
Do you like this street sign?  If only we have paid attention!  But we were more focused on the part that pointed which way to the beach.  (That is a goat to the left)

Lots of camels.  In this area, they are almost camouflaged.

I loved looking at the mountain cliffs on this drive.  It might look all the same in the pictures, but in person it was so nice.  Much nicer change from the constant desert we see everywhere else.
We took a short walk when we got there, this was the view of the beach.

Donkeys carrying water.

When we got back in the car.. it said it was 107 degrees.

View of the beach as we drove away.  Nothing here.  But there was nice tide pools, and its always nice to get in the water on a hot day.

More beach-front property

Can you see the water through the haze?  I mean.. dust?

On the drive back, I was more prepared for the hazards of the road.. that I tried to relax and take more pictures of the mountains.  Here they have some stairs and equipment.  Not sure what they use if for.

Neat caves in the mountains.  Not sure I'd investigate to see what lives in them though.  Probably just goats if anything at all.

I'll never get tired of these Umbrella Thorn Acacia trees.  However, don't get too close.  The thorns sting for HOURS!

More camels

We tried to attempt a side road that went to the town of Arta.. but we had to turn around.  If her car can't make it, I know ours for sure wouldn't make it!

They paint rocks and spell things and designs on sides of mountains.

Isn't this a beautiful view of the ocean?  And it's not even dusty season yet!  (Yes, that is my sarcasm.. because the dust storms are arriving next month in July.)

OK, I officially want a house in Arta! (I am not being sarcastic) This is the greenest place I've seen in all of Djibouti!  Everyone was in awe!

Look at all of those beautiful trees in Arta!

Yes, I realize it is still dusty and mostly dirt.. but imagine living here when you can see the ocean just over those trees!

Wild flowers growing on the side of the road!  Amazing!

 If you are driving to Arta Plage, you need to PASS the road to Arta.  You cannot reach the beach from the town, as the town is high on a mountain cliff.