Thursday, April 12, 2012


Tajura is in Djibouti. As you know, we won’t go there now, on account of difficulties obtaining a visa for the overland crossing, but I just like to share Thesiger’s experience, as an example.

Wilfred Thesiger arrived in Tajura in May 1934, after an eight months expedition through the Afar country in Ethiopia (Abyssinia, as he calls his). He suffered considerable hardship, not to mention real danger – more about that later – so he may have been biased when he finally reached the sea, but he describes the place as paradise on earth, with “palm fringed beaches and sparkling green and blue sea”, “dhows at anchor offshore, with dug-outs passing to and fro”, “white mosques among the palms, and narrow passage ways between crowded mat-roofed dwellings”. Or what about “the Somali and Arab merchants, stately in ankle-length robes, embroidered sleeveless jackets and coloured turbans”, and “groups of women in colourful dress”? All senses were tempted, from “the sound of a stringed instrument, the throb of a drum; long drawn sonorous calls to prayer”, “the distant roaring of camels at the wells; the sound of the surf on the beach”, and not to forget “the smell of dried shark’s meat, wood smoke and spices”. They don’t write like this anymore, I don’t write like this, but isn’t it beautiful? I just wonder how it looks now.
Thesiger chartered a dhow to take him to Djibouti, the city, overnight across the moonlit bay.

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