Just had a warm bath and am watching BBC TV in my air-conditioned room with decent lighting which I can turn on and off from my bed. Simple luxuries which are now greatly appreciated! I have been out to have the best pizza since leaving Canada, with some Belgian beer and some ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.
The flight landed on time, the line up for a visa was short, then I bought some Djibouti francs at the convenience store at the airport. A taxi driver offered to drive me into town for 2000 francs. There are supposed to be 177 Djbouti Francs to the dollar so that’s about $12whcih may be a bit over the top but not enough to fight over.
Djibouti City is about 5 km form the airport. All the signs are in French. It’s a fair bit cleaner and tidier than Addis, but a lot hotter. There is less contrast between the buildings, all look to be reasonable, with less obvious poverty or wealth. It looks vaguely like the south of France or New Orleans, with Arabic influences
I was checking into the Hotel Menelik, where I had a reservation, within 30 minutes of landing. The hotel staff seem very friendly and organized. The Hotel is on the main square in the downtown core of the European Quarter, surrounded by shops, bars restaurants and night clubs.
The usual touts are everywhere, people claiming to be friends that I met at the airport. There is 40% unemployment, so what else can people do? My latest trick is to reply to everything they say in German, as best as I can. So far none of them can understand German. It’s a good intellectual exercise, but it does not make the touts shut up or go away.
I visited a couple of book shops to see the local picture books. Oh dear… one of them has a series of pictures of the major roundabouts of downtown Djibouti! The beach at the best hotel in town looks a bit muddy and unwelcoming. The islands I thought I might visit are dry and featureless. There is a nice looking lake, however.
Djibouti clearly is not a major tourist hot spot. I am already beginning to recognise the few groups of foreigners in town, and they are all francophone. I have also found a couple of the offices which can organise tours.
The hotel has free Internet but so far the only web site which works is Gmail. Don’t really understand how that can be. Will try to post this and see what happens!