Published: July 7th 2007July 7th 2007
I got to Ethiopia just last week, on the Wednesday the 4th to be exact. A couple of days later, we set off to Djibouti for the weekend for an AU Conference. Djibouti, the city that is, is a wonderful city right on the water. However, it is probably the hottest place i have ever been to. Compared to Khartoum, the climate in humid, making it feel like a sauna. The city itself is very much a coastal city and has recently been privatized by the Emirates, giving it a slight Dubai feel. Sadly, it seem that the country is on its way to become a replica of Dubai. This would be great for the quality of life of the average person in Djibouti, but I am very much afraid the culture might be lost and traded in for development. Djibouti, howeve, does have some successful trade going on with neighboring Ethiopia. Since Ethiopia does not have a port, it used Djibouti's. The dozens of Ethiopian loading trucks on standby can be seen on the port, their many materials layed on the sand. Because of Djibouti's safety, these materials can be left untouched and in the open for weeks.
It was incredible to see a country where the people not only spoke and looked Somali, but where the very feel of being in the country reminded me of the pictures of Somalia before the civil war. The smell of frankincense lingering in the air reminded me of my aunt's diri3s, the men with their gorgora, and the disappointing popularity of Khat. I was only there for a couple of days, and although i did want to see the country outside of the city, i was informed that there wasn't much to see. One thing i really regret is not making it out to the local market because of my horrible jetlag!
On our way to the airport on our last day, a strange wind started to blow. It lifted up the sand and blurred everything around us, giving the atmosphere a brown hue. This was different from the occasional Sand Devil i had become accustumed to seeing in Sudan or and was more accute than its trumendous Sand Storms. When i asked Saeed, my father's friend, he said that it was called the Khamseen, meaning fifty in Arabic. Apparently, today was the beginning of a wind that continues
to blow and lift the sand off the ground for fifty straight days. It is then that i was reminded of the mysteriousness of the desert and the mysticism of the Arab culture.
There are more photos below