Djibouti

I lived in Djibouti in 1975-7; it is a rather barren small country located on the Red Sea between Ethiopia and Somalia. It is heavily-influenced by France and, even today, is a major base for the French Foreign Legion. It gained independence in mid-1977. When I lived there it was still a French 'Overseas Territory' (Territoire d'Outre Mer) and was called - Territoire Français des Afars et des Issas. The 'Afars' are a tribe from the northern part of the country and are similar to those in nearby parts of Ethiopia. The 'Issas' are from the southern part of the country and are of Somali origin. There is a history of conflict between the two tribes and when I lived there, there were frequent minor and major confrontations between them - curfews were a regular occurrence.

A view of sunset from the balcony of my apartment, overlooking the Corniche.
One of the few recreational activities available was using a speedboat to visit some small islands a few miles offshore. Water-skiing was also popular.
One could visit the small settlements of Dikhil and Obock by car. Part of the trip involved crossing the dried-out beds of two shallow lakes - the Petit and Grand Barras. These were potentially treacherous because if we hit a damp patch we risked sinking into quicksand (this happened to me once - fortunately we were able to escape!). The photograph shows us crossing the Grand Barra.

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