Monday, April 4, 2016

Janet made it to Geneva. Her opening is tomorrow at Analix Forever Gallery.


Janet had a busy week in Paris. Her bags were found. Today's she's off to Geneva for round two of art.  However, the Paris train station Gare de Lyon was evacuated after she got on her train, due to bomb threat. Authorities have, apparently, taken apart an entire traincar, and are now letting people back into the station.

More once she gets out of France.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Janet is settled in in Paris. Turkish Air managed to misplace her bag, but hopefully it will arrive tomorrow. In the meantime, i'm sure she's enjoying a proper red wine (and indoor plumbing!)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cooling Heels in a Hot City

Good news is that  Janet will be going to Paris on Monday!

Here's the new flight info for her Monday flights:

Flight TK0687 departs DJI at 12:30, arrives 6:55

Flight TK1829 departs  IST 7:20 PM, arrives CDG 10:55 PM

She's staying at the Acacia Hotel - pretty nice, has a pool. Turkish Air is picking up the hotel cost due to the cancelled flight. We're messaging back and forth right now, she's roughing it at the pool.

This is the hotel - one of the best in Djibouti - note that there is a gate, barricades, and guardhouse with armed guards. Way better than Motel 6!

Maybe the Last Night in Djibouti

Looks like Janet's flight out of Djibouti to Istanbul has been cancelled.  Will update once we get more info.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Last Night in Djibouti

Janet's back at the hotel. All good, she's downloaded footage from cameras, and is happy with the shots. And most importantly, she went to the market today and got me Ethiopian spices! Berbere, Mitmita, Mekelesha - all good stuff!!!

This is from Janet:

My first impression of Djibouti City was so wrong. It seemed like nothing was happening. After a couple days here it feels like Casablanca. Everyone (Djiboutian, French, Chinese, Yemeni, Saudi, and US) are wheeling and dealing. We are now seeing a bunch of French military guys out of uniform in the restaurants and cafes. We just passed armed, full uniform French police. What the hell are they doing here? Tables of guys from everywhere, drinking beers, and making deals. Super interesting. All with a total undercurrent of violence.

Interestingly, we haven't seen much USmilitary presence (actually only once sneaking into a club ... totally suspect guys). Since the bombing in the square near the hotel in 2014, the US military stay on base. The Muslim population hate infidel influence and there are a bunch of bars here on the square. The US wants to keep its strategic base so they restrict soldiers from leaving. French military too. We have to go through a metal detector and pat down every time we come back into the hotel.

Janet mentioned seeing an actual drone flyover. Same day as the pentagon put out a press release about a US drone strike on Yemen that killed 20-30.

She also talked a bit about the guide issues - but I'll let her tell her own story once she's online. But she did mention "I have a better feel for what it feels like to be a hostage ... we stayed calm and eventually got back here to the hotel."

She flies to Paris tomorrow, lucky Janet!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

la Forêt de Day

Update from Janet. Things improving - and change of plans (and guides) - they're back at the Menelik Hotel in Djibouti City. It apparently took three hours of dealing with guides, but she seems to have straightened things out with the operator of her tour company (and got reimbursed for any and all shakedowns) . He is taking them to la Forêt de Day tomorrow.

Also she says she's very happy with the footage!

Presidental Largesse

Got two texts from Janet. She is heading back from Lake Ebbe, "Otherworldly."

They had lunch in Dikhil, where the President was campaigning for the next election. He was handing out khat, the local tree-grown narcotic leaves. Gotta send this idea to Bernie and Don!

Still dicey with guide but all ok, she says.

They passed the truck drivers, still protesting.

Today they're going to "the forest of dead trees," night in Afar village, then back to Djibouti City.

Should have some pictures by then!

For more info on the current political situation in Djibouti, good article here

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Off to Lake Ebbe

I received a couple texts from Janet this morning (Wednesday afternoon, her time) She's off via Jeep to an Afar village - she said it was a bone wrenching drive across rocks, then on the the main road.

On the road they found a big trucker protest. Almost all of landlocked Ethiopia's exports go via truck to the Djibouti port. Apparently the Djibouti police had a recent altercation with a truck driver, and beat him to death, so today the other drivers are blocking the road.

She's also had some issues with the Afar guide asking for extra money, but I think we'll have to wait a few days to hear more about that.

This afternoon they're going to "dead forest" (or maybe it's the "day forest").  It's the only bit of green in the country. Then she's off to Lake Ebbe tonight via jeep.

No cell reception out there so probably no news until Thurs or Friday.

Good news is she's safe and having an interesting time!

Monday, March 21, 2016


Janet had a minute of cellphone service this morning (her time) and sent through a few texts.

She was at breakfast. Today they're following a caravan of camels around Lake Assal. The camels are loaded with salt that's collected from the saltflats that surround the lake.

She says it's beautiful there, and they slept on the salt. Next chance to charge her camera batteries is in 3 days, so she's planning to conserve power. She has enough batteries for at least 12 hours of shooting, probably much more, so I'm sure she'll be fine.

(Again, these aren't her photos.)

Good Morning Djibouti

This morning, after enjoying her last shower (and indoor plumbing) for a week,  Janet's off to Lake Assal area, about 200 km north east of Djibouti City. There is a paved rode, so shouldn't be too long a drive.

The area is beautiful but desolate, with amazing beaches. She'll first go by Ghoubbet al-Kharab, an inlet to the Red Sea. And yes, that's a volcano.

From the official Djibouti toursism site

Lac Assal is a natural curiosity of great beauty, in a framework of volcanos and black lava, 155 m below sea level. This is the lowest point of the African continent. There is no outflow from the lake and, due to high evaporation, the salinity level of its waters is ten times that of the sea, making it the most saline in the world after Don Juan Pond in Antarctica. Lake Assal is a hallucinating show, with in the background the black lava from volcanoes that accentuates the contrast of the dazzling Turquoise of the salty hot water, the azure of the sky is hardly able to temper. In addition to tourists, we often encounter trucks carrying salt from the Lake to the Ethiopian Highlands under the amused gaze of sellers of souvenirs. Attention to the hot springs, water temperature can be above 40 Celcius. The Government of Djibouti has initiated a proposal with UNESCO to declare the Lake Assal zone and the Ardoukoba volcano as a World Heritage Site.

Hmm. The 2nd salty-est in the world, but there's one in Antarctica that is saltier? Please don't mention that to Janet!
These aren't Janet's pictures. We'll add her shots once she can send them, or when she gets back!