Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our drive to Lake Assal

This post is mostly pictures.  Last weekend we finally left the city limits of Djibouti City, and drove somewhere!  And for the first time since arriving here four months ago.. it felt more like I was in Africa.  The city really doesn't give you the feel of what you would expect from being in Africa.  

African road hazards...

Donkeys being used to carry supplies

Stone, tin, and ply-board houses.  No electricity or running water.

The vulture soaring over the houses in the picture above.

Children running along side a car, trying to sell them something.  A common sight.

Stone houses

Hut houses and stone houses.

On top of a mountain

Looking at the mountains

Looking out at mountains and Lake Ghoubet

Vendors on the side of the road

Saw several camels

Same camel, but I liked where it was grazing

Heard of goats

Huts in the middle of nowhere.  We went inside a hut at our local "zoo", and there is no air circulation in these things.  I couldn't imagine having one family live in these one room huts with no running water, electricity, let alone air circulation.

Shacks and huts

Coming up to a village.. there is even a mosque

For those of you who donate to UNICEF, this is your money at work.  We saw water containers in many places along our drive in random areas where people were living.

Arriving at the village, just before Lake Assal

People flood to the street when they see a vehicle coming, asking for donations of money, food, or water.

It is really hard to pass these cute kids up!

Two vultures.  On the other side of this ledge, were two local people walking.
Lake Assal (Lac 'Assal for those who speak French) is a saline lake that is located 509 feet BELOW sea level in the desert.  This is the lowest point in Africa.  The worlds largest salt reserve.

Lake Assal

Crystallized salt

We didn't stay out of the car too long.  There was no breeze here.  The car said it was 99 degrees, but by the time we got back to the car it felt like at least 110 or more.  And there are locals that spend their whole day down here, selling salt pellets and souvenirs.

Yes, you can swim in this lake.  However, if you have any open cuts or sores, it will severely sting!  And be sure to bring fresh water to rinse off with.. otherwise, the salt will leave a nice coating on your skin when you dry.

A rock inside the lake

Other objects that were dropped in the lake and have been there awhile.

Crystallized salt on rocks and objects

My t-shirt says "Lost in Djibouti"

My t-shirt says "Is there anybody out there?"

Collecting a sample of the water to take home.  The water in the bottle is crystal clear, and after a while.. some salt has settled in the bottom.  We have even put a shell inside to see if it will get covered, and if it does.. we are curious how long it will take.

You can't really tell.. but this very short area of soft fine dirt on the road has camel tracks going up on the right hand side.

Don't pass on the left.. or else!

Red soil and a lot of erosion over the years.  Most of the road to the lake had guard rails falling down the sides.

A lot of rocks that look like black lava rock.. but I told my daughter they are sun burnt from laying in the hot sun all year long!  (It was a very funny clever joke, thank you very much)

I love all of these small bushes that look like mini trees.

Yes, this baby goat is standing ON the bush

Pretty view

Heading back to Djibouti City (32 kilometers)


Rednecks have been to Djibouti!  It looks like they built the locals a fantastic fence around their mosque.

The soil isn't this red everywhere.  And where it is, it is beautiful.

Everyone gathering out of the hot afternoon sun

Market stands on the side of the road

Approaching the truck-stop area, just outside the city limits of Djibouti City

1:30pm on a Friday.  Last time we drove past this, everyone was outside their apartments.. kids playing soccer.  Too hot to be outside.

Houses outside the city limits

Houses outside the city limits

View of the Port of Djibouti

Djibouti flags

Camels and goats gather in the shade too

Houses outside the city limits

What locals do on a hot Friday afternoon

The following pictures are within the city limits of Djibouti City.


More elaborate, comfortable houses in the city with running water and electricity.

Yes, we have FedEx

Statue inside the middle of a roundabout.

The other spot where locals go on a hot Friday afternoon.  We aren't allowed to drive down this road on a Friday, because around the corner.. the road is usually congested with locals playing on the beach and in the ocean.

The best time to see downtown is also on a Friday (which is their holy day.. like our Sunday).  Normally, there are people everywhere and its difficult to find a place to park.

There is more activity at the downtown market than I thought there would be for a Friday.  This is also usually extremely congested during the week.

Downtown market on a Friday.  Again, not many people.  And this is a common view of a road.  People walk in the road, even if they have a perfectly good empty sidewalk (this road doesn't.. but I've seen it on other roads).

So that concludes the tour of our road trip last weekend.  This post is intended to help people who haven't ever been to Djibouti, to see what life is like.  This is the reality of the local people in pictures from the perspective of someone driving through the country.

Before coming here, it was difficult to find pictures and information about what to expect before moving here.  Hopefully this post can help someone, and to give perspective to my friends and family of the things we see while we are here.

Djibouti City - May 23, 2013 - Currently 95 degrees "feels like 109 degrees" at noon.

1 comment:

  1. Lyn, thanks for posting the wonderful pictures -- it helps to see what you are seeing while there. I'll still take Wyoming however -- the heat would kill me off in one day! The salt lake reminds me of Salton Sea in the SE part of California and the Great Salt Lake..looks like LOTS more salt however. I don't see how the locals survive in the various type of huts -- the heat must be awful inside. Keep sending pictures on "life in Djibouti" -- I love them and go back and look over and over. Miss you guys -- by the way Ted Connin died this week. Sad to lose him! Love and hugs to everyone. Dee