November 19, 2019

Road trip in Djibouti – Day 8

Sunday was spa day at Kempinski resort. I chose the seasonal massage. The Summer Bliss Balancing. The Summer Bliss massage is based on soothing strokes. The body is cooled and calmed with the use of refreshing oils and, warm and cool stones on both the face and body. After that we sat in the relaxing room and didn’t feel like going anywhere.
We still went to the restaurant for a healthy salad. Not long after that it was already time to go back to our hotel, pick up our luggages and call a taxi to go to the airport.
Everything went according to plan, until my brain froze at the sight of my e-ticket, as we were queuing outside the airport to scan our bags and check in. 00 :50 is my departing time to Paris. Cold sweat. Could it be possible my flight was this morning instead of tonight ? Panic attack. Nooooo !! I pretend all is good until I reach the check in counter. Can’t lie to a computer. Dazed look of the lady at the check in desk. I missed my flight. Can you put me on the next flight ? No. Is there a Qatar desk here so I can reschedule my flight ? No. What do you mean no ? The Qatar office is in the Kempinski hotel. Can you call them ? No, you need to go there. I suddenly lose all the benefit of my Summer Bliss massage. My legs feel heavy. Don’t tell me I am stuck in Djibouti for another day… or maybe more. I am falling apart.
My sister needs to get on her flight to Cap Town. She gives me the breakfast biscuits, we didn’t eat, the left over of mini brownies she had brought from South Africa and some fresh fruits, just in case. In case of what ? She leaves helpless with a sad look and I’m here puzzled for a moment.

Djibouti Airport

All right, I start all over again. Where is the ATM ? Get some local currency. Grab my bags. Go to the taxi parking lot. I play the usual script with a young taxi driver : « How much is it ? 2500 francs. No, 2000 francs. Okay. », like if we had this conversation before. Back to Rayan hotel. For some reason we are taking the busy streets of the center. When I see that he is about to stop at Royal Hotel, I say no. Not that one. And I give him the directions. The security guard of the Rayan hotel is surprised to see me again and makes me seat down in the courtyard. I need to wait, it is prayer time and the receptionist is at the mosque. The security guard seats down as well and engages the conversation with the colorful cleaning lady who happens to be the lady that works at the port and had served me the melon juice the other day. The taxi driver doesn’t have any change so he seats down as well. We are all waiting on our white plastic chairs. They wonder if I will have to pay again for the flight. At this point, I wonder when is going to be the next flight.
The receptionist is back and surprised as well to see me again. Aren’t we friends now ? I ask for a friendly rate. He gives me a little discount. I guess we are not such great friends. He is very happy to give me the key of the same room. Room 213. I climb the stairs up to room 213. I grab the box of mini brownies, seat down on the bed and eat them all trying to, mentally adjust to my new situation.
Saved by the mini brownies. Brownies are to be added on my packing list when going to places where the climate turns my chocolate bars into hot chocolate. A feeling of deja vu when the next morning, I pack my bags, check out, leave my bags at the reception, get in a taxi after the usual « how much is it… blabla » script. I am on my way to Kempinski again.
R E L I E F. There is a flight departing to Paris tonight, with only a penalty fee to pay. Now I can relax and enjoy the infinity pool, my Waldorf salad at the Vitamin bar and a chocolate mousse in the lobby. I am leaving tonight.

Taxi driver grazing some Khat

Same thing again : go back to the hotel, pick up my luggages and catch a taxi to go to the airport. The taxi driver has his Khat on his laps, wrapped into a fabric to keep it moist and, he is grazing. His cheeks are inflated by the amount of leaves he keeps in his mouth. He continues to fill up his mouth with those leaves, one at the time, slowly.
Airport. This time, I am in and I am going. Small airport, only one room for the departures. I seat and look around. Only families with restless kids, a couple of western men. I wonder who are they and where are they going. And there is me, the only white woman in the airport. It feels as natural as waiting for my bus to come, when I am at home. But I feel different as well. I think of Angelina Jolie, I once saw walking alone on the tarmac at Abeche airport or, Mia Farrow waiting in that same small and dusty airport in Chad. I don’t have much in common with those women. Were they feeling different too ? I wonder what was on their mind then.
Is « belonging » the other side of « being different » ? We are call to board.

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