|Not in a hurry to the airport(altho I was a bit of a twit, since they had said be there by 9) we proceeded to the street about 9:15 to get a tuk tuk(3 wheel taxi/motorcycle) but were stopped by the gal at the $$ desk asking for us to pay. Jake produced our rcpt.(which unfortunately we had not ckd the room #s) to show we had already paid. Being a different gal she didn't beleive Jake when he said that upon arr on Fri eve they were very busy and the gal barely was able to ck us in &take our $$, to say nothing of writing a rcpt. Bummer, no ticky, no washy...hmmm. After Jake & Bon argueing and explaining for the 10th time the sit. even to the owner who was brought into the conflict, we finally at 9:45 just got into tuk tuks and left for the airport.
There the tuk tuk drivers took exception to our paying 14 bier/ride saying we had to pay 15 bier/person because of baggage...Well, we had been to the airport and paid 10 bier for 3 of us just the day before so we knew they were just seeing us as ripe tourist lackeys. Again, Jake prevailed and even brought in an English speaking local from the airport staff who agreed w/ us and finally told the drivers to get lost.
Going thru customs, security cks, etc we finally got to the waiting room (this is an airport smaller than Missoula's) where we sat for almost 3 hrs before lvg on the Russian built (30-40 yr old) jet prop cargo/passenger plane. The cargo was qat(drug I spoke of earlier...Djibouti's only supply line since it must be fresh/green) and Marie Niege said an hour late is not bad as long as it got to Djibouti! If it failed to arrive w/ its cargo of qat, tho, there may have been a revolution. I can believe it! There on the runway where the plane stopped were 30-40 personnel in their orange vests all excited, jabbering, smilingly happy...qat had arrived! Bon said "I hope they remember to unload our bags!" Ha!
Marie Niege was waiting for us and since taxis can't take more than 4 we had to go in 2.
Djibouti City and Djibouti country exist by virtue of location, location, location. It is strategic as well as commercially important for shipping. Really quite small and very well preserved for a colonial(French) city, everything is within walking distance of where Marie Niege lives. What a wonderful hostess to put us up here even while she works every day and is preparing to leave on vacation Thur. The humidity is once again a big factor but not bad at night being winter...she says by May it's intolerable and if it weren't for diving(which is great here bytheby, she showed us pics) she would not be able to make it the 3 years she's signed on for. She took us on a walking tour of the town, we chged $$ & ATMd into their currency, got the lay of the land so to speak. Our flight in (40 minutes) gave us good reason not to have opted for bus or train...bleak barren once ocean bottom land. D.C. is a major port with Dubai taking control of it recently and expanding it. Increased Arab presence & $$$ along with the normal 3,000 French military and now US military presence makes this a very secure place for Arabs to put there $$$. Lots of new construction due to this and more imported goods coming in to Ethiopia(their only supply route), have turned this non-country into a place where everyone is a visitor or emigrant or merely a nomad.
They are (grievously to Mari) filling in the mud flats to increase the land close to the port...even Marie Niege's place used to be tidal marsh/mud flats/ocean.
M.N. teaches 7:30-1:30 at the 1000 student Ecole for the French nationals here. Most Businesses close for the qat shipment at 1:30 altho some reopen 4-7:30. We(Bon, Mari, & I) went out to research onward transport/travel options...Jake as well but on his own. M.N. leaves for France and vacation the 21st so we are hoping to get a flight out on Fri. Overland does not look like an option for reasons previously mentioned...altho Mari had expressed an interest in seeing where Planet of the Apes was filmed here. To visit it would be very expensive since this country really has no infrastructure for tourists, stuff is all imported and expensive and O.N. accom not up to the prices charged. Plus, we would have to get visas again for Ethiopia, so we reserved for flight via Addis to Niarobi on Fri(no seats avail yet but gal said to chk back since there usually are cancellations). As insurance we also booked for Sunday.
This eve over Chinese we spent a very pleasant dinner with two of M.N. cohorts at the school(teachers)George & Eva who are here for 3 yrs as well with their 3 children. Eva is a Czech refugee who escaped before the fall and ended up in Australia where she met George. Very interesting folks and stories, we enjoyed the eve greatly altho I fear we bored them too much with our soap box views of America(w/ which they agreed wholeheartedly I must add...preaching to the choir!)
Jake took off after breakfast w/ Mari to ck out the port and possible transport to other locations via boat; Bon & I went to the internet (DSL quite fast, thus this missive!). When we returned to M.N.'s place she had just returned as had Mari and we discussed the options of to do this afternoon. Decided on going to Mocha Is. where M.N. dives and we could snorkel a bit...Jake came in and said he was going to meet some captain of a ship at 4 to go to ??? and would not be coming back. We said our goodbyes quite rapidly since we had to catch a boat to the island by 2.
Very nice snorkeling again but it was a bit cloudy, visibility was only 2 meters or so...the coral was nice and saw some fishes(grouper even a ray), M.N. saw white tip shark during her dive! Back in town we went to what used to be Le Maharadja-Orah Restaurant, now is more diverse cuisine incl. Lebanese. We ordered the complete Lebanese meal for 4 which incl wine and it was truly delicious, even came w/ an after dinner aperitif!
Went to Ethiopian Air office and bought our tickets for Nairobi lvg tomor eve via Addis where we stay in hotel on their dime as in transit passengers O.N. and pick up plane to Nairobi at 10 am. While there we got word from the ticket gal that Jake had NOT gone anywhere via boat but had bought a ticket to J-burg, S. Africa that left last nite. So Jake is now in S. Africa...he had been wanting more adventure than we were having he said and also, the money was running low esp. given our travel by plane in Ethiopia and then the cost of flying to Djibouti. He had made several contacts at Green Turtle which he mentioned might pan out into work in J-burg, we wish him well and will miss his presence. He was a great asset to our little group in many ways, but being 'oldsters' I'm sure put a bit of a drag on his activities(altho he did manage to get away from us many times when we weren't looking, ha!). Anyway, Jake if you read this feel free to put in your own two cents as to what you're doing! I had told him how to get into the site to do just that but he said he wasn't much on 'journaling' but he might email us from time to time.
We attempted to mail/ship box to US with some 'precious' items but found that it would cost over $75 US to get it home (the contents aren't worth that much) so now we'll continue to pack it along until such time as we come across a better alternative. Dang, I was hoping to lighten my load a bit (betw Bon & I it was 3 kilos of stuff).