Published: May 4th 2008April 8th 2008
Djibouti is one of the smallest and most expensive countries in Africa. A small glass of beer in a restaurant cost $US7! At that price teetotalism seemed a very attractive prospect! I didn't get out of the capital city during my stay as I was concentrating on trying to get Visas. As a result I at least enjoyed the good (but expensive) cuisine in the restaurants. The good food is a result of the French colonial influence.
The journey to Djibouti was an arduous trip. It started with a 3am start from the city of Dire Diwa in Ethiopia with a scrum to try and get a place on the bus. I won't forget seeing the driver chewing Khat - a stimulant and narcotic used by 90% of Somali men.
The next day I tried to get a Visa for Eritrea. At the Eritrean Embassy I was told that they were only issuing Visas to people with with a residency permit. The woman suggested that I fly back to Britain and try to get a Visa in the UK. Otherwise she suggested it would take at least 4 weeks to get a Visa as she would
have to ask Asmara directly. I decided it wasn't worth trying to get into Eritrea, much as I've wanted to see Asmara. The city of Asmara
has been proposed as a World Heritage site because of its Art Deco architecture. Unfortunately its government is one of the most isolationist and paranoid in the world with an appalling human rights record
So, next I tried to get a Visa for Somaliland. The Lonely Planet guide book gives an address for a Somaliland liaison office. Somaliland is a country in the north of Somalia which no government in the world recognises. It declared independence from Somalia in 1991. It therefore has no official diplomatic representation anywhere in the world although it does have a few offices in a few countries. I asked a taxi driver to take me to the Somaliland Liaison Office. He dropped me off and pointed out a building. The staff though seemed very confused with my request because he had in fact dropped me at the Embassy of Somalia! In fact, it seems that the Somaliland Liaison Office in Djibouti was closed some years ago.
So, I telephoned the Hotel Ambassador
in Somaliland who told me to send a scanned copy of my passport to them by email.
So, my time in Djibouti
was spent waiting for the Hotel Ambassador to obtain the Visa for me and enjoying the fine cuisine.