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March 31, 2007

Retreat from Djibouti

LOCATION: Lake Assal, Djibouti
Longitude: N:11deg.37.087'
Latitude: E: 042deg.23.702'

This evening finds us camping on the shores of Lac Assal, a body of water 90 kms out westwards from Djibouti town that is in the process of drying up. This marks the first day of the 15th out of a total of 16 legs of this circumnavigation attempt.

Lac Assal at night

Our departure out of Djibouti town was quite unceremonious with several groups of children using Kenny and I as target practice for fine tuning their stone throwing skills. As nomadic people they no doubt spend much of their day throwing rocks at dogs and other potential predators to the herds of goats and sheep in their charge. And we clearly appeared as irresistibly slow moving targets.

At one point I made the mistake of yelling at one kid who jumped onto my BOB trailer for a free ride. In Asia a sharp retort would quickly nip such behaviour in the bud. But in Africa there is clearly a different protocol that is required, as within seconds we were beating a hasty retreat under an artillery barrage of good-size rocks flung by at least a dozen of the little brutes. If any of these should have hit us in the head we would have been knocked off our bikes for sure. I get the sense that while violence is taboo in most of Asia, or at least in public, in Africa its a different story; the people, at least in this region (predominantly Somalis and Afars) have shorter tempers and are ready to fight at the drop of a hat.

By tomorrow evening we should hit the Ethiopian border and start climbing out of this impossible heat (Lac Assal is 150 metres below sea level, and correspondingly hot) and up into the relative cool of the Ethiopian highlands.


> Total to raise: $4,500
> Total raised to date: $500
> Total still to raise: $4,000

Sincerest thanks to the following for your pledges -
- Around n Over
- Jackie and Jean Bernard, Djibouti, $250.

Posted on March 31, 2007 8:53 PM