Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Goodbye Dubai


Last night we spent the night in Dubai on our way to Djibouti. We stayed in this really modern hotel in the terminal, an expediting service handled our baggage, instruments and tickets etc. The Dubai airport has some amazing duty free shopping and reminds me of a mini Vegas. We had enough time for a few hours sleep and then we caught our flight. Right now we are flying over Saudi Arabia, I looked out the window and I got so thirsty;)

We arrived in Djibouti and were met by such heat on the tarmac, that I thought I would burst into flames.
but as soon as I stepped on to the continent of Africa, I could feel something special. I have never been here before, but it felt like I was returning to a place I had visited long ago.

Our instruments & bags got here ok and the airport crew carried our gear in the 100 degree heat. It's usually 113 in the daytime, so this a big relief;)

We met our US Embassy liaison, Omar and on the way to the hotel, he briefed us on our schedule for the next few days. The drive to the hotel was enlightening and when we stopped to get some supplies in town, we saw a lot of poverty in the streets. The unemployment rate is about 60% or higher. The local government and the port are the biggest employers.

We got to our hotel and it really is an oasis in the middle of a desert. Because this is the only deep water port in East Africa, there is much international competition and commerce that surrounds the area.
The hotel houses service men, service women and civilians from around the world. The hotel, like Djibouti, sits on the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Red Sea. Somalia is to the south and many ships that have been taken from Somali pirates, came from this port.

Almost all business and government offices close and the men go home snd chew a green leaf called Qat. It is like a stimulant at first and then it mellows you out. They will chew it all afternoon and into the evening. Two times it was tried to be outlawed and both times, it erupted in to civil war.

It's sold in little huts and shaded spots, because it's photo sensitive and loses potency after a few hrs. it is transported daily from Somalia.

Omar took us to a cultural youth center, where we performed for about 100 students. There was a sax player and a guitarist. We played some tunes by ourselves and then we played a song with the guitarist. He picked, Hit the Road Jack and we played it in some Country, Reggae, African feel.

Then the sax player played a local modal melody and we joined in with her. Omar said that this is probably the only time these kids will see American artists perform live in the next 10 years. We did a lot of call and response and Omar was amazed at how interactive the kids were today. He was also very surprised that a female student got up to play.

Here's some pics of the outdoor area of where we played and the stage where we will play this evening for some older students.

After the workshop, Omar took is to a very small restaurant that only serves baby goat and a long grain rice. You can pick out the goat in the back and then it is slow cooked for hrs. We didn't pick out the goat, but I took some pics of the ones out back.
I'm usually a vegetarian, but when in Rome...;) I tried some of the crispy skin and I must say, the goat with the rice and spices was pretty amazing!

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