It is at such a time as this that muggins decides to change the programme. Daniel has planned to visit the hot spots, literally, at around 4 p.m., when they become less hot. Nah, quoths I, let's go now and get the full monty. So we pile into the van and make the first important port of call – Dikhil's qat market where Adam buys his daily dose for $10, carefully wrapping the moistened leaves in a carefully moistened towel.
In several million or so years, give or take a few hundred thousand, a new sea, provisionally called the Afar Ocean, will appear here; the plates are separating at the rate of two centimetres a year. But by that time parts of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia will have broken off to form a new land mass – and Morocco and the Mediterranean will have disappeared under the European plate, so the geologists tell us.
|Pool at bottom of canyon|
Hundreds of little holes bubble up with boiling water from the earth's bowels, filling green algae-adorned pools that feed a lake far saltier than the Dead Sea. And what do we have here? Some arsehole has thrown a plastic bottle into one of the pools, another has abandoned a plastic spoon nearer the lake, a third has abandoned an empty tuna fish tin on the blindingly white salt-caked shore. Still others have left ugly graffiti memorials to their presence in barely accessible rocky nooks. Daniel plays the good citizen for the first three – he doesn't want to break his neck for the last.
|Assal bubbling pool|
|Lake feeder from the pool|
|Lake Assal view|
|A 'blush' of green in Adeileh's dsesolation|