November 29, 2010


Last night I was walking through downtown Djibouti on my way home. It was around 9:30 pm and a man came up to me on the street. He said to me "American?" and I said yes to which he replied "Fuck America!" What a pleasant encounter. This man must feel very strongly about this to stop me on the street only to inform me of this sentiment.

As I was walking home I thought about this as well as the malice with which he said it. He almost spit the words out at me. What brings about such strong feelings of hate in someone? With the US government's ongoing "War on Terror" attempting to win hearts and minds in the Muslim world is it even possible to reach someone like this? I would say no.

I had another similar but less profane encounter last week during class. I posed the question where would you go and what would you do if you had the resources? Many students wanted to travel, help develop Djibouti, or help their families except one student. He had 2 ideas. The first was to go to Yemen to join Al-Qaeda to fight the Americans. His other idea was to go to North Korea to join the North Korean military and fight the Americans there. This student is otherwise a respectful, well spoken student who apparently harbors intense feelings of animosity towards America.

Another student previously told me that someday the Muslims will rise as a military power and they will kill the Americans for what they have done to the Muslims. I asked if I would be killed as well but he assured me that he liked me and had no bad feelings toward me. So apparently I will be spared in this violence.

November 23, 2010

Oregon Trail

If any of you have ever played the old computer game "Oregon Trail" you may appreciate this. Along your journey to the Oregon territory your wagon party can fall victim to various diseases including dystentery. I'm fairly confident that I have dystentery or something like it at the moment. Enjoy.

November 22, 2010

exam time

today I gave midterms for the first time. the first class was chaotic, attempting to give an exam to about 140 students in a tiny room. im sure loads of them were cheating but I can't very well fail the whole class for cheating, or can I?

The next class was only about 40. 13 of them were definitely cheating and another 8 have many of the same answers. that means that around 50% are cheating, that I know about.

It really is quite shocking. Even the students who would have no problems passing are cheating and getting caught meaning they will fail. I don't understand this mindset. The test was listening to an english conversation and answering comprehension questions. Some of them showed up after we listened to the conversation and still managed to answer almost every single questions correctly. Unreal.

I don't know if its fair or safe to make conclusions from this experience but I will say that IF this is reflective of the Djiboutian mindset, and it may very well not be, than it explains a lot of things about this country.

November 20, 2010

Lac Assal

So yesterday I went to Lac Assal, a salt lake that is the 2nd lowest place on earth after the Dead Sea. Check it.

November 18, 2010

writing about Africa

apparently this is how to write about Africa. Thanks to my cousin Jesse for finding this.

In other news I'm going to Lac Assal tomorrow.

November 16, 2010

eid al adha

its the day of the eid al adha celebrating Abraham's almost sacrficie of Ishmael in the Quranic version. I think every French soldier in Djibouti is in the downtown right now. this is the largest number of white people i've seen here. yesterday there were several sheep in my apartment building. this morning they were all slaughtered. there was some blood on the steps today which was special.

in other exciting news i cleaned my whole apartment today including the toilet, the shower, and i even mopped.

November 13, 2010

Africa's economy

According to this website Africa's economy is equal to that of Chicago and Atlanta combined.

November 10, 2010

Africa Unchained: The Bane of Decrepit Seaports in Africa

Africa Unchained: The Bane of Decrepit Seaports in Africa: "In Foreign Affairs: Africa has the least efficient ports in the world. Dwell times -- the amount of time a ship must stay in port -- for the..."


I am now on my 2nd day of vacation. i don't go back until nov 20 so i have 10 days of sleeping in, 10 days of relaxation, and 10 days of doing nothing. My French class ends tomorrow and doesn't start up again until the 20th so I'm on  vacation from everything. Except I have to prepare exams to give the day I get back. 

I experienced a new sensation here in Djibouti. While I was sitting in church I felt cold. The ac was blasting and I was sitting under a ceiling fan and I was cold. That's a first.

I went to a rooftop Ethiopian restaurant twice this week. Its pretty cheap and really good. I'll be going there more often now that I know about it.

November 4, 2010

today's exciting events

Today's highlight was sitting a small child pooping on the sidewalk near the university. Not just regular poop, bright yellow runny stuff that looked like creamed corn.

Also some intelligent person decided to drive a giant front loader used in construction through the narrow streets of djibout. cars are parked on either side of the road and the loader ensured that only 1 direction of cars would be moving. Somebody give that guy a medal.

November 3, 2010

A New Hope and a first

Today was a day of hope. There was an English department meeting and we discussed curriculum development, planning, organization, all the hallmarks of education. I'm excited to see where this will lead but I'm also trying to be realistic about it.

Today was also a first for me. I rode on the back of a motorcycle. It was slightly scary but fun. And don't worry mom its safe, Tom is a good driver.

November 2, 2010

Milestone in Djibouti

2 nights ago I reached an important milestone. the water in the shower was too cold for me. Normally i get in and enjoy a few seconds of cool water but now its too cold and I have to wait for the water to warm up. Perhaps I can say that I am officially acclimated.