Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 20, Djibouti, Africa

Good morning

We have woken up this morning, still grief stricken & in shock......Nopi tried to get as much information as she could yesterday ....... ....... but the Internet had slowed down, dramatically... .............

Ramzi returned my call late last night, and he was furious with me!!! I was severely reprimanded by an otherwise sweet friend! Why??
Well, Ramzi had offered to escort us through the Sahel belt because it is not safe for five foreigners, especially females, to be travelling by ourselves and we didn't take him up on his offer..... :-((

Yesterday we whizzed through Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Kenya and ended up in Ethiopia without paying attention to any of the sights.....we were so distraught and all we wanted to do was to share our sorrow with other fans in the vicinity.

Ramzi had warned me that in the north of Mali, Touaregs are still at war

and that they would not hesitate to kidnap a foreigner like myself and use me as a hostage, or could use me in exchange for weapons!!!! Obviously I didn't take him seriously at the time.

He also warned me about Islamic terrorists in the region, who would not hesitate to kidnap one of us. After all we were a multinational group- Greek, Indian, South African and Czech- that would involve four different governments!!! We could be used to negotiate the release of prisoners etc, and could be beheaded if the governments did not comply!

Then he also told me about the weapons and cigarette smugglers ( Marlboro connection!!!) who are heavily armed and very dangerous.

Now, instead of us going to Algeria to meet him, he has joined us here for the rest of the trip in this part of the world.

We are going to take the aerial route to Djibouti, which lies in Northeast Africa on the Gulf of Aden at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

The country is mainly a stony desert, with scattered plateaus and highlands.

The city of Djibouti is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Djibouti. It lies on a peninsula that divides the Gulf of Aden from the Gulf of Tadjoura.

Someone once described it as an "African city designed like a European settlement and a kind of French Hong Kong in the Red Sea".

Two-thirds of the inhabitants live in the capital city, the remainder being mostly nomadic herders. Features of Djibouti City include beaches along its eastern shore and the large Central Market, the national stadium Stade du Ville, the Presidential Palace and Hamouli Mosque.

We all figured that a little retail therapy may help to comfort us deal with the grief.........

Ramzi showed a recent news report in the region:

Pirates torched a Seychelles vessel off the coast of Somalia after releasing its seven crew members for a ransom, two members of the pirate group said on Wednesday

Berbera, Somalia - "In our culture we were nomads and we believed it was our right to take sheep, to take cattle. That is how we see the ships. They are our sheep and we will take them!!"

Ramzi has indicated that travelling through failed states can be dangerous

Some of the countries which we had already travelled through yesterday are in the top 20!!!Somalia, Zimbabawe, Sudan, Chad, DRC, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, & Ethiopia

A failed state has several attributes.Common indicators include a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; sharp economic decline.

The shopping in Djibouti has provided us with some relief from the sorrow we have felt over the past 36 hours.......Nopi reminisced .....she had posters of MJ on her wall when she was growing, like we all did!! We felt a deep sadness for this troubled man but everyone agreed that we should celebrate his talent and decided to continue with our journey through Africa. Of course, I was especially enraged by the polypharmacy which obviously led to his demise, but then I saw it as a release from his earthly body.....may his soul rest in peace....

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