Shining A Light on the Dark Continent

The Arta Peace Walk

BannerThe day after Thanksgiving, Dave joined others from Camp Lemonnier for a peace “walk” which turned out to be an arduous hike. More than 50 people showed up at the designated area to catch buses to the starting point at 5:45 a.m. only to discover the buses were accidentally cancelled. Many of the participants were disappointed about the cancelled buses since It was the first time in the four years of the walk that U.S. military members from the camp were invited to attend. He and a few other hardy souls decided to wait around after word spread that back-up buses were on the way. But, after an  hour of waiting, the group disbanded. Shortly after that, the buses did show up and 14 people, including Dave, rode to the start of the walk.

Look at those thorns!
Look at those thorns!
Dave and one of the armed escorts.

“What a hike!”  Dave wrote in his journal. “It was advertised as a 15-kilometer walk, mostly road. The ‘road’ was rocks, boulders, holes, down about 3,000 feet to a ravine, and through and around big thistle trees with sharp needles two to three inches long. You know a tree is serious about survival in a desert climate when its leaves are surrounded by three-inch thorns!”

At about the two-kilometer mark, an armed escort showed up to lead the way. “I admit I was a little anxious at first. These guys show up  and at the first rest stop they told my group of six to sit ‘over there.’ It was like a movie and I made sure the guide sat in the midst of us.

“We were totally dependent on these guys. I’m not sure I could have found my way back in such a desolate, yet beautiful landscape,” Dave wrote.

Along the way, some local wildlife joined in the walk including a small herd of camels and a larger herd of goats.

Once the group returned to the starting point, the hosts insisted they join them for the luncheon, followed by folk dancers and a trophy presentation. “I’ve noticed in this barren, plain land, the women dress in very colorful garbs from head to foot with only their faces showing. These girls have very expressive and bright eyes.” 

More than 100 people attended the luncheon after the peace walk including locals, a representative from the African Union, some Frenchmen, some other international people and 14 U.S. military people.

With four blisters as a souvenir, Dave proclaimed the event “a fun time of singing, dancing,and learning an appreciation for the Djiboutian culture.”

Folk dancers at the luncheon.
Folk dancers at the luncheon.

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