Stress eating… hello Dunkin’ and Starbucks and bakeries

I have always had a love of candy.

And when I started working at Target, the baristas there extended my love of sweets to include various fancy overpriced coffee drinks. (Yes, Starbucks, that salted caramel mocha latte and the caramel ribbon Frappuccino are delicious.)

But when I started focusing on eating for health and bodybuilding, the sugar had to go.

Historically, I’ve never been a coffee drinker. But a bout with severe anemia ten years ago had me relying on a five-year-old making coffee because the afternoon sun had stolen all my energy on the walk home from her kindergarten class.

I would literally rest on the living room rug and that coffee would give me the energy to climb my way to the table.

So when I needed to end my sugar habit, I replaced it with a plain cup of coffee with a touch of cream. If I were hungry, that would stave my hunger until I made a proper snack. If I were eating out of boredom or emotion, the coffee gave me something to do.

But now, almost five years later, I realize I have become a stress-coffee-drinker. That if I’m gloomy, or tired, or bored, or upset, I go get a cup of coffee.

I’m still disciplined about sugar, though I am slipping back into my old ways, but I notice now I want coffee AND pastry.

Relationships with food can be tricky.

Road Trip, Djibouti style 

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.

  
Homes often have tires fencing in little yards…

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. 

   
 
Again, big news for a small country with no natural resources. 

  
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.

 

making our coffee


  She poured our coffee from her thermos bottles and when people paid her, she tossed the coins in a basket under her little table.

coffee and tea

  

other patrons having coffee


Our next stop was the town of Ali Sabieh. That will be my next topic. 

The Coffee Lady in Mogadishu

On our first day in Mogadishu, we were driving back to our hotel, Hotel Sahafi, when the traffic slowed and a gendarme told us that the white car a few car lengths ahead of us contained a bomb. Apparently, a suicide bomber had made it this far (about two miles from our hotel) when authorities noticed the bomb and the bomber-to-be deserted the car and ran.

As a result, the road was closed and we were rerouted until the car bomb could be diffused. We were returned to the hotel and locked in for the night. While our driver and guide were getting information from the gendarme, I noticed this woman making coffee and started taking photos. Since I don’t speak Somali more than “Yes,” “No,” “My name is…” and “Move,” I didn’t realize at the time that we were so close to a live bomb.

Of course I used the time to snap street photography from inside our vehicle. These photos were taken on the outskirts of a makeshift village of refugees who left their homes in flight of the rebel group Al Shabaab.