Monday, January 14, 2008

Another Day in Africa

From Addis its just one small stepping stone out of the continent, that stepping stone been Djibouti. With the end of this crazy continent in sight Africa had to remind me one more time that its unforgiving, Malaria. I met Rene a Canadian guy on a BMW 650 going to Yemen also so we teamed up and departed Addis a week after I had arrived and instead of feeling rested I felt tired and warn out, thinking I would shake it we bushed camped the first night and I went to bed straight after a quick feed, waking in the night drenched in sweat, then the next day we stopped early after a short ride and got a room each which I climbed into the bed in mine and tried to sleep the day away, at around 3pm I woke drowned again in sweat, mustering what little energy I had I took the thermometer from my first Aid kit and sat on the bed watching sweat drip from my nose to the floor with the thermometer in my mouth, outside the call to prayer for the Islamic world blurred over the speakers, I was back in muslim country, 39.6 degrees! Hmm I had a problem, I need a doctor I am going to self combust in a minute, that’s how I felt, I found a clinic after a ride in a three wheeled taxi mobile and waited awhile for the doctor wondering what the hell is it this time?? he took blood and I waited, positive for Malaria, great just what I wanted, back to the hotel and into my treatment tablets I had from Senegal and ride out the storm.

Africa is almost done!

On the day I came good we decided to hit the road early for the final 300 k’s to Djibouti city, the road turned out to be better than anticipated and we made good time, the scenery was spectacular as we went, arid, dry and inhospitable but spectacular with clouds appearing in the sky for the first time in a long time and the air staying slightly cool we passed close by the Somali border encountering the remains of many old tanks beaten and blown up from a past battle. Departing Ethiopia was a simple process and then came Djibouti or the nation of qat chewers, qat (chat) is a leaf they chew which gives them a high and also rotten looking teeth.

Engira, why not one last bout of Earth Shattering Flatulance!
Our timing was out as maybe we should have gotten to the border before the officials reached their waisted state or maybe it was a good thing as it turned out. I entered the customs building after getting my passport stamped, now this has always been the concerning part for me as I don’t have the official bit of paper the ‘Carnet’ that allows you to bring your own vehicle into the country, I have not had it since South Africa, opting not to renew my old one. But thus far I have managed to come this far without a glitch only one more country to enter, in Africa anyway, "Carnet Carnet" they asked, "I don’t have one" was my answer, they looked puzzled whilst a delirious acting man beside me demanded he see my vaccination book, I passed it to him, “No Carnet”, they were confused and had to actually start using their minds but the day had entered the qat induced high stage already but what happened next made me feel like a Jedi Knight from a star wars movie, the delirious man was pointing and screaming at something in my vaccination booklet, I looked at him and said “my friend that’s my birth date you are looking at’ turned to my customs guys and placed my Tempory Import Permit from Kenya (which is completely useless) in front of them and said” just stamp this please it’s what I use” they stamped it, the mad man gave my vaccination book back and I exited the old run down building a free man to enter Djibouti, I’d made it all the way up East Africa without a Carnet and with minimal fuss, so many people told me it would be impossible to do such a thing, nothing is impossible with a little improvisation hey!
Somebody had bad luck, or somebody had good luck

Djibouti, well what to say, its only a place to use as a stepping stone not for a holiday that’s forsure. The road into the city lined with plastic bags, trucks waiting to haul fuel to Ethiopia, goats, people, donkey carts all jostling side by side for position in society, all chewing qat, all just surviving.

On the road to Djibouti.
Still again more reminders we are still in Africa, to the Yemeni embassy we went for a visa, "come back tomorrow" was the outcome, so then the dilemma of cheap accomadation which does not exist in this country, prices driven skywards due to it been only a port town and the large number of French Military here, so we thought to try our luck at the British consulate after given a tip we may be able to pitch a tent on the grounds. We had to wait for the Consular himself to finish his afternoon nap but once aloud in we me Alian, a French Lawyer living here in Djibouti who acts as the British representative for the consulate as well, and yes he said we could pitch our tents but then his wife I think took pity and moved us into the Gueast house, its five star, pool, TV, shower and a maid that washed our clothes! So this is the story-we are in French speaking Djibouti, staying at the British consulate run by a frechman, waiting to get our Yemeni Visa and in search of a boat to take us to the country Yemen itself!

The view from my room where I stayed with Malaria.

Day 2 saw us wait in the Embassy from 7 in the morning til 2 pm only to be told that they had just run out of visa stickers!! So a little embarresed to tell our amazing hosts that we need to stay til Monday we returned home a little dejected to give the news or ask to stay, its just so nice…..