Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the world, 40 to 50 something feet. They have brownish beige coloring on top with white checkerboard or constellation patterns of white. In Kenya they call them "papa shillingi" because the white parts look like coins(shillings), and in Japan they call it "geger lintang," which means "stars on the back".

You can go snorkeling and harass these majestic animals here in Djibouti if you've got the cash. If you are more ecologically inclined, like Ann and I, you can shell out $180 to ride on a boat for 6 hours and NOT EVEN SEE their starry asses.

The boat:

wooden, my backpack smelled of diesel, washed the beach towels we brought three times and they still smell that way, quaintly primitive for 18 minutes and ridiculously inadequate for the 5:42 after that.

After a three hour motor, watching the crew cut up fresh fish into kebab sized chunks, assuming that was going to be our lunch, we arrived at a typically trash strewn beach which was apparently the milieu of our esteemed and large quarry. One group of 6 got off the big wooden boat about an hour before we arrived, and took a launch. As the wooden boat anchored (there was no name upon its bow or stern) a launch pulled up to take the rest of us to see the whalesharks. Our cadre consisted of me and ann and one amercan rancher from cali named phil and 13 french soldiers, 2 of whom were women. We roved around in the launch randomly for an hour and saw no sign of the checkerback. Made it back to the boat and I was alright, anticipating the awesome kebab lunch, but amazingly, even as they were finishing cooking those kebabs on the boat, we were offered cold cheesy croissants and salami sandwiches. I assumed they were appetizers for the kebabs and rice which was sizzling inches from my fist, but then they scooped all that tastiness into big platters, loaded it into boats and headed towards the beach. I looked at Ann, what the fuck? is that for dinner? Long story short, NO. Nothing.

Then the six who took the other launch reappeared, all flush with their viewing and swimming with the whale sharks, and proceeded to head to the beach to eat all that I watched sizzle and mature on the coals. How I tried not to hate them. How I failed. One 65 year old guy that will probably outlive me had a baseball hat that said "Crystal Mountain"

For us though, No whalesharks, no kebabs, weird food tease and I can no longer in good conscience recommend this sucky Djibouti travel bureau called "Lagon Bleu" which is blue lagoon spelled wrong which was a decent movie starring brooke shields before this horrible incident and now is only a bague whaleshark shaped inkblot on the dark part of my soul.

We did see a cuttlefish, the water was really clear.

On our way back, we got offloaded from the wooden nameless boat onto a fiberglass 19 foot long 6 foot beam piece of crap with an out board. The sun was going down and we were in an open ocean (indian ocean) shipping lane with no running lights and no life preservers. I had my arm around Ann as I realized that our lives were forfeit because I had not taken the proper precautions and the sky darkened and we rode ten foot swells toward the barely and less discernible lights of Djiboutiville on the wrong side of the channel bouys.

No big deal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not okay! Buggers. Xo, ingeborg