When we returned to Djibouti City from Mogadishu (last weekend), we booked a trip with Bambu Service Touristik to visit Lac Abbé on the Ethiopian border.
African road trips are precarious. You have the crazy drivers, lack of petrol stations, dessert roads and rocky roads and a general lack of, say, signs.
A straight drive from Djibouti, Lac Abbé is probably a three or four hour drive depending on conditions. We had several stops booked into our day.
I was extremely excited about this trip, because Lac Abbé is traditionally Afar nomad territory. Djibouti, as a country and former colony of France (granted independence in June 1977), has two traditional ethnic groups (among a host of others): the Issa Somali, with connections to Somalia and Somaliland, and the Afar, who hail from/migrate to Ethiopia (and I believe Eritrea).
I had just returned from a three day visit to Mogadishu. Mogadishu had opened my eyes to the influence of Somali culture in Djibouti. As soon as I returned to the streets, I recognized the food for sale. And now I could go see the Afar region.
As a student historian, I was thrilled.
As you drive into the countryside, you need more improvised structures. Often small huts made from the volcanic rock, sticks, corrugated metal and other recycled objects. Tires are the fence of choice.
Along the route we saw a lot of cylinders and it turns out there’s a big water infrastructure project underway to bring water from Ethiopia to Djibouti.
Our guide built a coffee stop into our trip and M and I do love coffee. I had forgotten how much I love tea in this area of the world. I think their secret is boiling the sugar into the water before adding the tea. Though I’m not sure. I don’t like sweetened tea other places.
She poured our coffee from her thermos bottles and when people paid her, she tossed the coins in a basket under her little table.
Our next stop was the town of Ali Sabieh. That will be my next topic.