When we returned from Mogadishu, Somalia, we spent one night in our hotel and headed out with out backpacks for a final excursion to Lac Abbé.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my visit to Somalia had made me more aware of the Somali cultural influence in Djibouti, so heading out to the Afar region excited the history nerd in me. I have a strong interest in this tiny Horn of Africa nation and how the French influence has blended with the crossroads nature of this area to create a country. The Arab presence is strong (especially now with the war in Yemen, fortunately I was able to visit Sana’a on my previous trip to Djibouti). The local culture is predominantly Somali and Afar so it made sense to explore more.
M, my travel companion, and I decided that though the journey is long and we’d already done a lot of travel by plane and car, that we wanted to see Lac Abbé. And we felt it had to be this trip. M also wanted to see the whale sharks, but our guide advised us it was too late in the season. Apparently, the increased activity in the water has forced some of the whale sharks away so when you once could see a dozen, you’re now lucky to see one. And he recommended attempting it in the beginning of the season not the end.
As also mentioned in a previous post, our journey to Lac Abbé involved a stop for coffee, a stop for lunch and a walk through Ali Sabieh. So while the journey took all day, it wasn’t all time in the car.
Traveling in Africa offers a different pace and a different perspective than travel in more Western or industrialized areas of the world. We turned off the main road outside of Ali Sabieh onto what, in the United States, would seem like an area where people play with their jeeps and other four-wheel-drive vehicles. Completely unmarked tracks in the desert.
This is one of the reasons they tell you not to attempt a solo trip to exotic locales in Africa. The driving is another reason: the crazy passing, driving on the wrong side of the road, the honking and flashing of headlights, the lack of seatbelts and gas stations.
And the truck drivers heading back and forth to Ethiopia who are just beginning to face rules about how long they can drive without sleeping. I witnessed at least three truck accidents.