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Mideast tour: a good view of Djibouti

September 6, 2007

The other lady comics on the trip, Laura and Christina, took malaria medication before coming. I didn’t. I mean, it was “optional.” Why bother? So what I’m saying is that I have malaria.

Djibouti is freaking filthy. The US is there on a humanitarian mission, which means trigger-happy Marines are sometimes bummed out to find that their new assignment involves painting schools.

We were warned to NEVER DRINK THE WATER and, in fact, DON’T EVEN BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH IT — yet everywhere there were sinks labeled “NON-POTABLE WATER, FOR SANITARY PURPOSES ONLY.” So if I brush my teeth with it, I’ll die, but I should be using the stuff to wash my hands, rinse foreign objects from my eyes, and wash out wounds? Good idea! Very sanitary.

In the market in Djibouti, various locals objected to my videography, so I surreptitiously took several very short videos and strung them together here. There’s not as much comedian-bantering, but I do think this represents the Djibouti experience, except that none of the women would consent to be photographed. (Although this video does end with a man trying to sell me a headscarf by modeling it himself. He seemed secure in his masculinity).

Mideast tour: how to get in and out of Djibouti

September 3, 2007

Getting to Djibouti from Qatar required five and a half hours on a C-130 — a cargo plane in which you sit on a pull-out, lawn-chair-like seat, and pee in a bucket in the back of the plane, behind the cargo.

Our flight here began with about fifteen minutes of sitting on the plane, inserting our earplugs, melting in 120+ degree heat. Then the A/C came on and the temperature dropped to about 40. I borrowed a windbreaker and slept, on and off, and tried to limit my fluids. Seriously, watch this video:

Somewhere in the last half of the flight, I woke up and decided I’d have to just suck it up and pee in the bucket. I started to squeeze past the cargo to the bathroom area when a female airman (er, airwoman) — a tall, young black woman looking hot in her aviator glasses, and forevermore to be known as the Angel of Pants On — signaled for me to take out my airplugs, and then shouted that we were landing in ten minutes.

We’re about to board another C-130. It’s 4:30am here, and our flight’s been canceled once already, meaning we’re behind schedule. We may have to travel and do a show in the same day, which isn’t supposed to happen, but we’re pretty good at bucking up and doing the show. Someone will meet us in Bahrain and let us know if we’re off to a hotel, or a show on a base, or helicopter to a show on a ship.

I’m sleepy.

Mideast tour: I’m totally in Africa

September 1, 2007

Get your Beavis and Butthead voice ready…

I’m in Djibouti!

It is full of rubble and trash and abandoned tires and goats eating the rubble and trash and abandoned tires, and aggressive street vendors and children begging for food, and then the street vendors literally hit the children in the head for distracting the tourists from buying.

After days in the Middle East where I felt all but invisible around Kuwaiti men (and highly disdained by a few Qatari border guards), today I have had at least twenty Djiboutian men (pronounce: Zha-BOO-zhin) put their arms around me and call me “sister,” while offering me a “special price.”

All the touching is startling after being in countries in which husbands and wives can’t even touch each other in public. I jumped when I felt someone behind me grab my hair; it was just a cute little girl, in a headscarf. And then, of course, some man whacked her in the head.

A bunch of Djiboutian men were actually requested that we pull out our cameras and take photos with them; they would then provide big qat-stained smiles and thumbs-up — while the women would jump out of the way, knowing that my camera can store up to 800 souls when captured at 640 x 480 pixels.

In front of the “Jenyfer.”
Despite terrible poverty, an awful lot of Djiboutian women look just like Naomi Campbell.

After being in town, we went swimming at the Hotel Kempinski, a $214/night property that looks like this:

To me, “swankiness” + “Africana” says “I think I saw this on an MTV special about Russell Simmons’ house.” It was fabulous. They make bread in the form of snakes!

A hotel employee in charge of arranging rose petals gave me this:

I have a ton of videos for you, but the internet here is painfully slow. Off to do a show!

Mideast tour: off to Djibouti at 5am!

August 30, 2007

Gotta go!

We leave for Djibouti in a few hours. Might be a few days before I can post all the videos and photos I’ve shot.

Djibouti is the hottest place on Earth, and guys tonight have been telling me it’s a hellhole all around. Of course, armed men in a hellhole need jokes.