Thursday, February 2, 2012

Freedom is the Only Way

Went with Ann to a Town meeting at the US embassy today.  This massive facility, employing some where between 35 and 40 Americans and around 200 Djiboutians, exists to service the needs of, oh, I'd guess 20 American citizen civilians and 3500 military folk.

By massive, I mean it takes up about 2 square kilometers, has a pool that we can't use, and weighs a lot.

So there were some good cookies and some coffee.  I met some nice people including a couple military guys that shook hands with Leon Panetta.  We asked them if they had some inside scoop on the recent operation that freed those hostages from Somali kidnappers.  They said they saw it on the news and didn't know anything until then...  I scrutinized their countenances, wondering if they were telling what they were told to tell or if it was true.  Like I could tell anyway...

I don't what to be a dick or a whiner but we all know that every sentence with the word but in it ends up contradicting what it said before the word but.

I love Africa but Arabia, I haven't gotten that feeling yet.  And this place feels more Arab than African.  It is OK for me, I tried to help one guy out and now he always asks me for money to feed him. I have no idea how to get him a job, no idea how to get him out of his rut.  It hurts me in the dark part of my optimism because it seems so hopeless.  His front teeth are brown and black and red and green and shaped like shark fins.  His smile like a searing wound beneath bloodshot starry eyes searching for hope in a waterless plain of pain.  His English like a surrealist rendering of a quaint English landscape peppered with French mispronunciations.

Yesterday, I was cashless, no money in the bank, and I was going to the gym to work out and he tapped me on the shoulder.  I said "Hey Andi, I don't have any money."  He took affront, saying "I am just your friend" and I momentarily accepted that and asked him how he was doing.  No answer, he just said "I will see you later my friend.."

I come back home and find 1000 djibouti francs ($6) in some shorts that have a secret tourist pocket.   Ann is going to the prison tomorrow and that always makes me worried and she has no money left on her phone so I know I have to spend at least 500 on phone credit for her.  Which leaves 500 to buy ancient dried up copenhagen at the tabac.

I make that trek across the square and Andi hits me up for some cash and I try to ask him about his family, his day, he offers nothing.  Refusing to relate.  You know, I realize I am a fool, I cannot be his friend,  I cannot help him in self realization.  I'm not going to give him $3  because I am sick and sickened at this relationship with him.  And also because I am jonesing for some tabac.

Today my paycheck came through and in the night I reflected upon my relationship with this guy.  The first words he said to me were lies: "I am a technician."  And he has lied since then.  "You are looking for a bicycle?" he said,

I reply "Yes, a used one but a good one"  

He promises "I will find you one".

I say, because he has a cell that can take pictures, "If you do, take a picture and show it to me".  I already knew that people here will tell you they know something that is simply not the case.  "Yes, you give me francs and I will find you a pair of green socks, no problem....a place to get beer after 8 oclock no problem...a guitar.."  Always promising the world but delivering only an emptier pocket.

So I told him to take a picture of the bike and he said OK, but he'd have to get 1000df for cab fare to see it and take the picture.  I fronted him that.  Next day he told me he found an excellent bike a childhood friend was selling  for a great price.  "Cool" I said, can you show me the picture?"
My Djibouti sense tingled at his reply:"No, it was too dark to take a picture".

So I blow another 1000 to get to the place and back to see a bike that is too small and to see his "childhood friend" not even greet him properly.  The bike was crap.  And to me, this was two bad lies. You can see vague acquaintances, men on the street, walking hand in hand, they ALWAYS greet each other with a handshake at least.  The bike seller barely managed a nod in Andi's direction and Andi told me they had played football together when they were babies.  As he dragged the piece of shit bike out of some shack, I offered twenty bucks and was countered with 200.  "Lets go" I said.

Anyway,  I know life is hard and Really Hard around here.  I just don't like being played.  I gave him cash to check the thing out and he just took it.  That's not a friend.  That's a player, trying to play a sucker.

He lingers still, where the security guards' purview ends, waiting for me to feed him.  And I buy cat food at the store to keep a stray alive that is already showing signs of pregnancy.  To clarify, that means I care more about strange animals than I do about strange people.

I don't know, I used to think I was a good person, I felt comfortably tortured by reasonable decisions.  Of course you give money to the poor, of course you help the less fortunate.  Now, I think the me that thought that was an idiot.  Yeah, and the me that thinks this is a jerk.

But the thing at the embassy was great.  I am starting to like being an American.


Anonymous said...

But a ceramic fan heater radiates a good amount of heat that can heat up a small
room or office. Landscapes may be free of human
subjects or may feature human subjects as well. The problem is, you cannot see everything
they're doing.

Here is my web-site; quat dien

Anonymous said...

At this moment, this kind of software program
is available internet and can be downloaded quickly online.

We have become very much an advanced race all because the advancements in computers.
When I began working last year in a small hometown computer store I never thought I would
become as interested in web design and computer repair as I find myself today.

my homepage may tinh