Middle East Tour - Djibouti, Africa

 

Middle East Tour - DJIBOUTI, AFRICA - Feb. 2007

At 4:30 am, we left Al Udeid, Qatar to Djibouti Africa on a mammoth military plane called a C-17. We left at 4:30am. Amazingly, it was only us, our equipment and 2 soldiers for the 5 hour ride. Going on little to no sleep, we all crashed out on the floor. Later, one of the flight crew said that they've transported Al Qaeda prisoners on the plane. Having never flown, some of them scream because of the ear popping. All the flight crew can do is give them gum.

They put us up in a tent at Camp Lemonier, a small rugged base with a mix of US Armed Forces. It was noticably hotter in Africa. In short, everyone really enjoyed our stay in Djibouti. After the hectic pace of the first two tour stops, it was nice to have some free time. Guys got to relax, do laundry, catch up on sleep, work out, watch a bad movie and have a few drinks at The Cantina. The atmosphere on base was a little more loose and we quickly made friends. We have such a good group of guys on tour and it's nice to watch people warm up to the different personalities. The reception from both shows was very warm. We genuinely got the feeling that they were pleasantly surprised by the quality of music/entertainment.

The last day we got a guided tour off base. The living conditions are astonishing. There are hardly any trees to speak of...nowhere to get shade from the heat. We're here in the winter and it's 106 degrees. In July it gets up to 150...sounds like some type of gross exaggeration, but it's not. Shacks made of corrugated metal huts, camels and goats line the road. There's garbage everywhere...no dept of public works to pick up your garbage. We went to a nearby market, the venders
fighting with each other to gain our business, women and children tapping you on the shoulder with their palms out asking for money. Many Djiboutians are also hooked on Khat. It's a leaf that when chewed has a narcotic effect similar to cocaine. It arrives every day at 1pm where it is quickly distributed. There's a mad rush b/c of it's addictive qualities and b/c it looses it's potency shortly after being clipped. It was great to get off base and soak in some of the culture. After the marketplace, we went to the tourist side of Djibouti and visited a 5 star hotel on the Red Sea called the Kempinski.

An hour before the last show we were told we had to pack up immediately after the show and report to the flight line for a 2am flight. Unfortunately, we were rushed out of Djibouti and didn't get to give a proper farewell to all the people we'd met. Almost predictably, the flight didn't leave til 5:30am...

~B. Gorman~~~~~~~~~~~~~

our first look at Africa
Djibouti and the Horn of Africa, lower left
considerably hotter in Djibouti
Mike relaxing in front of our tent
our AC unit was on the fritz
this base was a little more rugged
water coolers every 100 yrds
Steve singing Karaoke on the first night at the base watering hole, the Cantina (aka "the Mantina")
Roc, Steve and Pang with the owner of the Cantina, Jerry
Steve and one of the 2 comedians that opened up for us
Cantina manager Jim
we had a couple soldiers from Guam up to play with us
Man-tastic!

just off base on the way into town
How do Djiboutians escape the sun and the heat? It's 107 today. It get's up to 140-150 in July.
Djibouti had that familiar 3rd world smell...like burnt garbage, brush, tires, all together.
Every day at 1pm a plane from Ethiopia delivers khat to Djiboutians. It's a cocaine-like narcotic (in leaf form) that many Djiboutians are hooked on.

At the marketplace with some local chidlren.
Women and children tap you on the shoulder, palms up asking for money.
merchants
a quick visit to Kempinski Hotel, a 5 star hotel on the Red Sea
 
front to back...An infinity pool, the Djiboutian flag and the Red Sea
Kevin is trying to get into Card Player magazine, sooner or later he probably will.
Ethiopian embassy
after 26 hrs of sweating out a fever in his bunk, Luke emerges...
burn victim
Heat Stress Management is taken very seriously on base
106.1 degrees F...and this is winter
The guys of Charlie Company from Guam invited us to their cookout
Bob Hope Chow Hall Djibouti
Camp Lemonier
sunset on the last night from the Cantina, right before our last show
An hour b4 showtime, they told us that after the performance we would have to immediately pack and go to the flight line for our flight to UAE. We got there at midnight but didn't leave til 5:30am.
Once we strapped ourselves in we found out the plane was headed back to Al Udeid, Qater...not UAE. We'd have to find a connecting flight. Thanks for the head's up.
If Luke only knew how much of that he wasn't going to be doing in UAE.
from a tiny window of C-130
 
back in that room at Al Udeid, Qatar