Alien but Familiar; Djibouti.

I have now nearly been in Djibouti close to a week. So far it has been a great experience and I don’t see that changing.

The first few days were confusing and a shock to the system. Not only because of the nearly 50 degrees centigrade change in temperature (Finland to Djibouti) but also because I have never been here before. It is a weird little country and the question you get to hear the most when you tell people outside of Djibouti that you will be traveling there is; “Where is it? Is it a real Country?”.

Now I can say yes people, its a real country because I am here and I have a Visa to prove it. This does not change the fact that I find it a weird place (in a positive sense).

I think why I personally find Djibouti a little confusing is due to its resemblance of places I have previously lived in, like Tanzania and Kenya (the coastal regions) but with the major difference in the people and culture. Here I do not know how to speak nearly any of the local languages like French, Arabic, Somali or Amharic  (two last are not official languages) and I am not well versed with the local customs. I find myself often doing things that I used to do in for example Tanga (coastal town in Tanzania). Speaking to people in Swahili or making weird gestures only to realize I look pretty silly and possibly even crazy.

Djibouti in itself is tiny. It has a great atmosphere and people are generally very open and polite. It is very secure and I find myself at times walking late at night looking for a new place to eat at. On that note, prices here are extremely high in comparison to the region. Many services and items equal to that of more expensive countries in Europe. I am still in the  process of finding the local markets and shops for the best prices because venturing anywhere close to the “Western” areas is going to kill your wallet, unless you earn something closer to a 6 digit salary yearly. My intern salary cant really compete with that at the moment.

I believe that with some time I will learn the basics to some of the local languages which will allow me to immerse myself into the culture, because right now I feel handicapped not being able to communicate in anything else than broken English from the locals side and even more broken French from my side.

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