Forces from America, Japan, France, Germany, Italy—and soon, even China—are crammed into the dirt-poor Djibouti. Good luck asking the locals if they like all the attention.
There’s a smell of sewage out on the beaches outside, juxtaposed with tangerine, sunset views glimmering atop the murky waves. Looking southward across the warm waters of the Gulf of Aden, whale sharks congregate en masse to feed in the fall and winter.
I’m watching through massive glass windows in the lobby of the Sheraton hotel, an oasis for foreign soldiers and military contractors of every stripe. That’s when I notice I’m being eyed by a couple of thugs.