Exploring Djibouti

Tuesday March 10

Yesterday’s laundry was hung up again on deck, only the sheets, the skipper’s sarong and the table cloth dried yesterday. Hopefully Must will show up as promised at 9am so we can go to the vegetable market and perhaps see a bit of the town. Elis, one of the two young Germans crewing on Complexity wants some ice cream! Kevin thinks we should get a SIM as it looks like we will be here until late Saturday.

Must collected Kevin and I last, already in the skiff were Elis, Lukas and Barb from Complexity and Australian Robert Skipper of Bare Bones. From the skiff we trapped across the dusty dockside to a pickup, we ladies travelled in the back of the cab, the men in the open truck. The locals are incredibly voluble, Must is no exception, his conversation delivered at an amazing rate even in his crazy English which gets mixed with French but on the phone in the local mix of French and Arabic, free hand gesturing madly he is a sight to behold. It seems almost everyone here raises their voice on the phone.

Enroute we spotted the boulangerie with barrows propped outside, presumably for delivering fresh baguettes early in the morning. No door just an opening in the wall with a sign over it. A few left and rights and we were in the compound outside Nougaprix, a medium sized supermarket. Must herded us out the further gate, across the road and into a lane lined with stalls selling a mix of fish or meat, the flies covered everything. Around the corner Must finally stopped. Here he gestured, good vegetables. I looked and yes they were even the flies had gone. The local lady in her voluminous, colourful clothes, acres of filmy red headscarf perched precariously on the back of her head and wrapped around her upper body, smiled up at us from her seat beside mounds of veg. She proffered garlic and onions, was puzzled when I shook my head, ‘Non madam, j’avais’. I knew what we needed; tomatoes, peppers, coriander, limes, Chinese leaf. We wandered as a loose group buying a little here or there – mint, beetroot, mandarins, apples, baby aubergines, jalapeños, ginger, spring onions. Enough for the rest of the week.

Then we headed en masse back to Nougaprix. Though Kevin and I had completed most of the grocery shopping needed during our trip to the new mall on Sunday we found a few more things to add to the stores. Bottles of tonic water, harissa paste, preserved lemons for making an Arabic style biryani, washing up liquid and best of all, 250g of Ethiopian coffee beans. And we have a SIM, Must has a stock. After he dropped us all back at our boats he went off to sort out ‘recharge’.

The talk of the morning was that one of the cruising skippers has been arrested by the coastguard. The guy is a bit odd and has been arguing with officials since arriving on Saturday over almost everything starting with the need to present all his considerable family (wife, four children and a baby) at immigration and the need for the friend they have crewing to have a yellow fever certificate. It appears he dropped the family ashore somewhere behind the fishing harbour, probably to avoid the fishing harbour charges as well as reducing the distance the little ones had to walk to the mall. Anyway he is back on his boat, another dinner table story added to his family’s cruising tales.

On Wednesday finally a bit of good news; our Suez Canal transit can be made the day after we reach Port Suez if we arrive before 9am local time. This essentially means we don’t have to check into Suez. The only thing we may (almost certainly) require is fuel and it’s hoped that can be fetched whilst we wait for the canal paperwork to be completed.

Today the weather forecast looks good for a Saturday departure, meaning we will check out tomorrow as Friday the offices are closed. The skipper has to do an oil change before we leave and we will need a final vegetable shop tomorrow to get us through to Suakin or potentially Suez. Our other task today is to accompany Elis on her mission to buy an ice cream which we failed to find yesterday!