May 30, 2011


All of my stuff is packed now except my computer and a few random pieces of clothing. I'm moving out of this apartment either today or tomorrow. Can't say I will miss this place, theres really nothing about it that makes it home. I just sleep, eat, and store my junk here.

I won't miss the call to prayer coming in the window at 4:30 am
I won't miss the thrice daily power cuts.
I won't miss listening to the guards horrible "music."
I won't miss the all day prayers from the Ethiopian Orthodox church.
I won't miss all the neighbor kids running around and yelling until midnight when I have to wake up at 6:30 the next morning.

I will miss my friendly security guard who is the only person in this neighborhood who talks to me and doesn't ask for money.
I will miss the ringing bell signalling the return of electricity.
I will miss my super nice landlord who provided ALL my furniture and is super understanding.
and thats about it.

Is a house a home? Not this one.

May 27, 2011

out of Africa

In less than a month I will be in the US for the summer. I have been contemplating how to describe what I am feeling but luckily someone else has already put it into words.

My friend Rachael is also leaving Djibouti here are her reflections.

My Journey Out of Africa

May 26, 2011

I don't know what to think

As part of my blogger account, I can see search terms that bring people to my blog. Today I discovered the best one yet. I don't know that anything will ever top this. I also don't quite know what to make of this. The search term is....

fat naked somali women

How Long?

How long does it take to print 8 pieces of paper? A minute? Maybe 3 minutes if you run out of paper or have to change the ink cartridge? This morning it took me almost 2 hours. Using our state of the art printers and computers at the University of Djibouti, I printed off 8 pages in only 2 hours.

After those fun filled hours I went to submit my corrected exams. They were given to me in alphabetical order but when I turned them in I was told they must be put in numerical order. No big deal. Just 149 exams for one class and 139 for the other.

Why did I decided to teach here again?

May 23, 2011

I'm Arab?

I think I've mentioned this before but people continue to think I'm Arab. Tonight I was walking to the bus and a man greeted me with the Islamic Muslim greeting "asalam alaikum" to which I replied "walaikum salam." He then proceeded to chatter away at me in Arabic. I stopped him and told him in French
"I don't speak Arabic, I'm American."
At that point he switched to excellent English and told me he was from Mogadishu and needed food. I told him I didn't have any with me but told him to go to the mosque which was like 10 feet away. He told me thats where he was headed when he saw me.

(5 minutes later)

I'm walking down the street because buses apparently are not running at 7 pm. A guy comes up to me and asks me either if I'm Arabic or speak Arabic. I told him in French that I don't speak Arabic but I can speak English and French. At this point he was speaking a strange mix of Arabic/French/English/an Ethiopian language.

He told  me he didn't speak French but kept dropping French phrases into his speech. He told me he was Ethiopian and kept pointing to himself and then to me saying "50-50." Since I was and still am unaware of what he was talking about. I ignored him. Eventually he asked me for 50 dollars. I asked him just to be sure if thats what he wanted and he said "yes, 50 American dollars not Djiboutian or Ethiopian." Of course I didn't have 50 dollars in my pocket and told him so. The end.

This is something that baffles me. There are Djiboutian Arabs who live here in Djibouti. Everyone has come into contact with them and Arabs are a normal part of life in Djibouti. I don't understand why I am constantly mistaken for an Arab. I don't dress like them, my skin is much lighter, and I have blondish hair. The only thing is my beard which is nowhere close to as dark as the beards of any Djiboutians. I might mention that only African Djiboutians think I'm Arab, I have yet to have an Arab speak Arabic to me.

What I see in the mirror:

What others see;

New Painting

Here's another painting a friend of mine made for me. This one was a complete surprise. A few weeks before he gave it to me he was asking me about what my favorite color was and what I liked. So the painting is orange and  music. Pretty cool. If you missed the other one, you can see it here

May 21, 2011

we have power!

Great Scott!

The power has only been out for 2 hours in the last 4 days! It is simply stunning. I have heard that Djibouti is buying electricity from Ethiopia and also that there is a new generator at the power plant...but its true!

Also, I should reveal that Wednesday and Thursday there was rain and it wasn't miserably hot. Friday and Saturday were also much cooler than normal. Soooo as soon as it gets hot again the power will probably start to go out.

cockroaches in my oreos

I was eating oreos today and after I had eaten 3 or 4, I noticed that there were 2 very small bugs crawling on the oreo I was holding. They were cockroaches. I threw away the rest of the oreos but it seems likely that I ate some baby cockroaches today.

What did you eat today?

May 18, 2011


Its raining in Djibouti!!!! Its cloudy and raining. This is the best day we have had in a while! I have my window open so I can listen to it. 

May 15, 2011

Lights of the Day

Highlight of the Day: The electricity only went off for 1h35 minutes instead of the normal 2h25 tonight.

Midlight of the Day: An SUV with a flat tire blocking ALL traffic on my side of the road as I rode in a taxi to a friends house. It appeared that the vehicle had gotten a flat and then was abandoned. No one was trying to fix it or move it when I went by. Nice.

Lowlights of the Day:
1. The total number of exams I must correct for this session is 471.
2. Liverpool lost 0-2 to Tottenham. 

May 14, 2011

blah blah

I'm moving out of my house at the end of this month and flying back to the US June 19. It is now officially super hot here and the power has been going off a lot. That really doesn't help me focus on what I need to do before I leave. When its midnight and I can't sleep because I'm sweating on my bed, I'm not thinking about all the important things I still have to do before I go back to the US for the summer. I'm thinking to myself "why am I in this #^$&%*@ place."

But I still have to correct around 500 final exams. Then administer and correct retakes for students who failed the first semester finals. Then do the same for the 2nd semester. I also registered to take a French certification exam. The written test is May 29 and the oral is June 5th. I'm also gonna take the exam to get into the State Dep't June 4th. Plus I need to pack up all my crap in the next 2 weeks and move to friends house for about 3 weeks.


Here's something to brighten your day. French pop music

May 12, 2011

night sounds

It is 11 pm and the power is off. Fortunately, I had  the AC CRANKED before the power went out so its
bearable. I was attempting to sleep but there is one problem.

The security guards are listening to men moaning in unison on the radio. Or at least thats what passes for music here.

One guy moaning a few things and then a whole chorus of moaners join in. It seems to just drone on and on with no stop. They listen to this every single night and I get to "enjoy" it when the power is off.

May 11, 2011

The Bell of Life

When I was dropped off at home today around 4, I heard a bell ringing. Like Pavlov's dogs, this bell triggers a response with me. One of relief and joy. The ringing of the bell means the electricity is coming back on. I have no idea why or where this bell is, I just know that when it starts ringing the electricity will be on in a matter of seconds.

If you ever attended public school and heard a bell for recess,lunch, or the best one, the end of school, you know what this sounds like. Then imagine if, when you heard this bell, your life would instantly be transformed from suffocating heat and mistery to air conditioned bliss in a matter of minutes. From the Stone Age to 2011 heralded by the ringing of the bell.

May 6, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?

Tonight was an eventful evening. It started out in the front of the Palace of the People near my house. There were several Asian men wandering around who were probably Chinese since there is Chinese company working there. Some Arab Djiboutians were attempting to make conversation with them in English but they were either being ignored or the Chinese guys didn't speak English. I sort of laughed at this attempt so they turned their attention to me. It turned out that one of them had been a student in Libya and asked if I had ever heard of it. I replied that I had since Libya is very famous or infamous at the moment. We had a nice little exchange and I carried on.

A block away I passed a young Djiboutian woman who was  maybe around 20. As I passed her she punched me in the chest. Surprised, I turned to look at her as she passed and then she spit at me. I kept walking a little shocked by this and saw a group of men who saw this exchange. They sort of smiled at me and I smiled back and kept walking.

The night continues 10 minutes later. I was standing on a street corner waiting to meet a friend for dinner when I saw a peculiar sight. A white man dressed in a long Arab robe and wearing local style sandals approached with 2 women. I wasn't 100% sure that he was white but after he walked by a young guy turned to me and said "white man" and laughed.

All of these events transpired in 15 minutes.

May 5, 2011

Nice Weather

Just for fun I looked up the temperature in Djibouti. At 5 pm local time the temperature was reported at 90 F with a humidity level of 75%. Keep in mind that temperature is recorded in the shade. Factoring in the heat index that works out to 109 5 pm. You can check the heat index or temperature yourself if you're so inclined.

In other news, Djibouti now has wireless 3g internet. I am the proud new owner of a 3g usb key that is enabling meto write this blog post from the comfort of my air conditioned and, at the moment, fully powered apartment.

ps. tomorrows high it projected to be 95 F. If the humidity level remains the same at 75%, 95 F will feel like 130 F. It's not even summer yet.