How To Stay Cool in Djibouti

Another sultry international post on staying cool!

“But, what?”, you may retort. “Cinnamon lattes are just ’round the corner! I’m looking up recipes with key words “hot” and “pumpkin spice” and wondering where to buy knee-length fall and winter boots!”

Yes, I know much of the world is taking out their sweaters and their most fragrant, cozy food recipes for fall, but not everywhere. I bring you another Staying Cool post from Djibouti! This was the country I just loved to say in seventh grade geography class. Anything with the component that might sound like “booty” will make any child or middle schooler snicker. Even better, we giggling kids got to say it twice, since the capital of Djibouti is…Djibouti. I’ve since matured. I’ve seen more of the world and met people from all over the globe.

I’ve also learned more about this country, situated in the Horn of Africa, bordering Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia. It is a land prone to droughts, a land of people speaking Somali, Afar, French, and Arabic. Best of all, I’ve gleamed some of Djibouti’s layers of culture and everyday nuances from this strong, strong writer: Rachel Pieh Jones. She has, after all, lived in Somalia and then Djibouti for over a decade.


She informs readers about life in this scorching country, from a number of facets. Rachel writes about life as expat, as a mother, as a runner and coach, as a believer in Jesus in a Muslim country. She has written about mothering teens, of leaving fright and moving forward. I love her honesty, love the strength and authenticity of her writing. (I know–too many links!! Can’t help it! I just want to share her words!)

Here, Rachel brings us into her everyday world, cluing us in on just how high Djiboutian temperates can climb. I guess much of life is what we do about the facts or events. Here’s what they do with the heat. Here is how Rachel and her family cool off.


It isn’t possible to stay cool in Djibouti. You could leave, but then you aren’t in Djibouti. Summer temperatures reach as high as 120 with heat indexes over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. And it doesn’t really cool off much after sunset. So it is just plain, freaking hot. So hot my kids ask for sweaters when the winter temps drop to the mid 80’s. So hot candles melt without being lit and lollipops melt and car tires explode.

IMG_6089So the question is not: how does one stay cool in Djibouti? The question is: how does one stay sane while sweating in Djibouti?

Don’t talk about it. Just don’t. No complaining, no whining, no discussion. It is hot and everyone knows it and everyone feels it. Talking about it won’t help.

Don’t get angry. Getting angry makes you hotter, makes you sweaty, makes you less patient with everything else. So try to control your temper.

Drink water, lots and lots of water with ice, if possible. Or chew on ice. Or put ice down your shirt. Just don’t get angry if someone else puts ice down your shirt because, see #2.

Avoid going outside during peak sun hours. Try to get all your work, play, exercise, and visiting done either before 6:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. Yeah. Good luck with that.

Go grocery shopping at Casino, the large, new air-conditioned store. Shop slowly. Meander. Browse. Roam. Chat with friends in the pasta aisle. Pretend like you forgot something and go back in after you’ve paid and left.

Hit the beach. It is a bit of a drive but do it. The water will feel like a soothing bath. Stay until sunset and if the wind picks up and you are soaking wet, you just might feel a shiver or two. Don’t worry, you won’t get sick from the cold, it is still 105.

She was also featured on Best of Baby, discussing her experiences as an American giving birth abroad in Djibouti. (I also contributed my Giving Birth in Japan post). 

Rachel Pieh Jones has been published in the New York Times, Family Fun, and Christianity Today, The Big Roundtable, and she blogs for Brain Child and Babble. Visit her website: Djibouti Jones or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

To you, Rachel, many thanks!

This is the second post in this hot series.

Read writer, Leza Lowitz’s take on Staying Cool in Tokyo post, too!


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