1 Month has passed

So a month has passed and I am getting into a rhythm here.  The temperature has finally become bearable (under 100 during the day and in the 80s at night).

Can’t talk about it much, but I feel like I am making some significant policy adjustments and project progress.  I am a communications (Cyber) guy in an intelligence unit here and I had to figure out how what I do is meeting the needs of the intel folks.  I have a staff of 7 folks to manage this and they all are very knowledgeable and professional.  Looking forward to getting some capabilities in place that will make this unit more effective by leveraging cyber.  The cool thing is that they think I am the Head Wizard in the magic shop that makes the magical things happen on their network.  That’s the beauty of being outside your career field for a while, you can learn how little people know about what you do everyday, even though they could not function without the network.


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Spent the weekend doing some team building with my folks.  Friday we had 2 team members birthdays so we went to the on base club (11 Degrees) and watched Djibouti Idol (Our version of the American Idol) where our talented service members and civilians sang before a tough crowd to move on to the next level.  It was fun and we had a good time hanging out and getting to know each other outside the office.  Saturday one of the camp bands was playing at the local pizza restaurant so we all went downtown and had some great pizza and good Belgian beers.  This pizza place is pretty awesome.  They have about a quarter acre lot with a French owned pizza restaurant and bar on it.  The patio area takes up most of the property and has a beautiful in ground swimming pool for anyone to swim in while you hang out and eat.  The pizza is European style and a great change to our chow hall food.  Sunday we took the shop truck downtown to see the Djibouti market square.  It was a very interesting visit.  I drove and can safely say that I have been in many countries and driven on many international roads and the Djiboutians are the worst drivers in the world.  Far worse than Koreans.  There may as well not be lines on the road as they constantly drive on the wrong side to get around cars going a quarter of the posted speed.  Djiboutian pedestrians are constantly walking into the street without looking.  They don’t look before maneuvering.  Crazy…  but a lot of fun.  In the market you are suddenly rushed and surrounded by locals.  They like to “watch” your car for you and expect you to pay them when you get back.  They also offer to wash it, but I told them not today.  The guy that “watched” our car for us was obviously high on what they call Khat (pronounced cot).  It’s a leaf imported from Ethiopia and is a legal drug popular here in East Africa.  It is an Amphetamine, mild, but  causes feeling of euphoria, abates hunger, and boosts energy.  80% of males are users here and it has addictive qualities.  The people literally stop work around noon and gather together to chew khat.  They basically done for the day and are less productive.  There is no processing of the plant.  It is cut fresh and you put the leave in your cheek and chew it.  The reason I could tell this guy was high was because his eyes were bloodshot and red and his lip was covered in green chunks of leaf.  He would likely use the money I gave him to watch the car to buy more khat.

After we negotiated with five potential car watchers over which one would be the recipient of our Djiboutian Francs when we returned we then ran into a mass of several other locals that wanted us to pay them to take us to a restaurant or bar, on foot, they would simply be our guides.  Again a clear sign of khat on all of them (green foam in the corner of their mouth and chewed leaf stuck to their lips).  We walked over to the market shops and young girls of about 9-13 years old came running out asking us for money or food because they were hungry…  no boys…  not sure why.  We told them “No” and went into the shop.  They are very pushy salesman.  “No” was not an option with these guys.  They kept putting stuff in my hand and telling me how much it cost.  Even if you said no they would drop the price in half until you just walked out.  This time I got an up close experience with khat.  The owner got very close to tell me my “special price” and his cheek was packed with the plant.  His breath reminded me of when I used to cut a field full of weeds and the fresh cut weed smell was in the air.  They call the goods they sell “Africrap” because it is low quality goods, but they have reasonable prices for souvenirs.  We then went to a pub and cooled off paid a guy 1,000 Djiboutian Francs (about $5) to go away because after he took us to the pub he just sat in a chair at our table.  Didn’t have to say anything to him.  Just handed him the money and he left.  The pub had Hoegarrden and Leffe on tap, so that was nice.  Met a couple of Canadians there and chatted a while.  We then left the market and went to a restaurant called “The Melting Pot.”  Not the same as the American Restaurant by the same name.  This was a sushi place.  They had many varieties of sushi and everyone got a different type and tried all of them.  We left there and headed back to base.  It was a pretty good weekend, but a little expensive.  Very enlightening to see the locals out and interact with them.  I would be interested in see how the other classes of folks live outside of the city folks.

I will load some pictures later of our weekend.

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