You know when you are a little kid and you received that doll you had been asking for all year? And after about 2 weeks, that doll is old and you are DYING to have the neighbor’s toys because, uhh, they are so much better?
New Doll > Djibouti
Replace Djibouti with the doll and there you have my July.
*sigh* I am very disappointed in myself as well. Djibouti is such an exotic location (ha!), why wouldn’t I have something to blog about every day? At the beginning, it seemed like everything was alien. Everything was new, eye-opening, and required exploration.
When I first arrived, I noticed everyone around me jokes about living in Djibouti. They count down the number of days until it is time to leave. Camp Lemonnier’s “Taco Tuesday” and “Wardroom” nights are notorious for American expat fun around these parts. The first month and a half, I didn’t quite understand it. Although Djibouti City is not New Zealand or the Seychelles, it is a place outside the U.S. that maintains unique country history, politics, and people. I already have had unique learning experiences. Although the country is a Muslim nationstate and Arabic is an official language next to French, no one speaks it unless they are in a Mosque. When I eaves drop, I can’t particularly understand the language because Somali, Afar, and French are mixed together like a strawberry- banana- blueberry shake. (I must say, I am proud of myself for understanding my PD team this past week when they had a conversation in Somali- small improvements every day!)
But like my host family, FSOs, and my past study abroad experiences eventually elicit a customization to one’s living situation. For example;
The Djiboutian driving aka no real driving rules, seems completely normal. What was once intriguing is now every day annoyances. For example; buses/ vans utilize catchers to grab people as the bus drives past a bus stop (or any road, really) to pull them onto the 6 seated van that actually contains 12 people. Or the fact that Djiboutian driving requires self-defense skills. Don’t expect people to stop at a red light, because they won’t. Ask my friend Vidal about the stoplight put up in his honor.. not necessarily because he pushed for legislative reform, but because a high Djiboutian official ran right into his marine car. Luckily no one died, but a traffic light was finally put up at the most dangerous intersection in Djibouti. Did it work, you ask? Nah- actually, the corner has become more dangerous, now. Only speed bumps are a promise for Djibouti drivers to come to a complete stop. Now, we avoid that stoplight.
And the heat waves. And the goats “bahing” at night. And the call to prayer. And Kempinski’s wine and cheese nights. I love my brie, baguette, and saucisse as much as the next person, heck I used to eat it every day for lunch in Tahiti, but eventually, it becomes normal. I can only eat so many Casino sandwiches. Eventually the Gailee’s Taco Tuesday fajitas and burritos don’t cut it.
It’s not that I am unhappy- please don’t misconstrue my words! I am very happy with my time in Djibouti. I feel I am making an actual impact. With a country’s population under 1 million, the State Department continues to staff it as so. Although its workload seems to be double with all the military bases infiltrating the city’s metro. I am able to do Foreign Service Officer work. The Embassy trusts me to implement its missions’s initiatives. Mostly because I have had an amazing boss, but partly out of necessity. So, is the summer continually motivating me for a FSO career path, yes; have I felt motivated to write about particular issues… not quite.
Although there have been plenty of moments where blog ideas sprang to me, after working 8 to 5 every day (many times longer), working out in the gym (By The Way- I have ran one 5k here and one 3k here in over 100 degree heat each time! I am very proud of these minor achievements.) I continuously convinced myself I would write some the next day and that my followers can wait until motivation hit… I still have a draft on Ethiopia saved on my computer.
Days went by, weeks went by.. I used the excuse that my phone was stolen and that I did not have photos to share with all of you, which is accurate. It took 3 weeks for a new phone to arrive in Djibouti. Surprisingly, it was refreshing and not as troublesome for me as my roommate Julia predicted. But excuses are excuses.
A week or so ago, my mom came through on her promise, she poked me to blog. In which, many of you followed through on. I tell you now, I full appreciate it. I realized then that I was not fulfilling my promise to all of you and most importantly to me.
I have been experiencing a different world, an Eastern African world. Although it may not seem new, foreign, or eye-catching anymore, it requires reporting. Because one day, I will forget it all. I will require what it is like to live in 115 degree heat on the daily. To live in a country where “rain” is 5 raindrops on my face.
So, I am pledging to write this week. I am pledging to write the mundane intricacies that make up the arid, coast of Eastern Africa. In hopes that I will find a way to walk over my Djiboutian wall and dig deeper into Djibouti before I depart. I am determined to find what it is that keeps Djiboutians here (well, those that have a choice.)