Blogs from Somalia, Africa

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Africa » Somalia » Somaliland January 3rd 2014

Travelling is usually beset with issues: sometimes transport, sometimes scams, and sometimes officialdom. Almost all pass without much inconvenience or concern, for it a part of the travel experience. However, in Somaliland, I found myself in a very inconvenient situation due to a person who strove to make my time in their country a difficult one – and surprisingly he worked for the Ministry of Tourism. The drama began when organising a travel permit through the Ministry of Tourism. My friend, Muhyadiin, had already secured a driver to take us to his home town of Gabiley to help him celebrate the birth of his first child. After arriving at the Ministry, I met a senior employee who became my nemesis – Abdisalam Shabeelle. A brief conversation in a darkened office followed. “Where are you going?” Abdisalam ... read more
Me practicing to be a money changer - Hargeisa, Somaliland
Green in Hargeisa - Somaliland
Proudly holding khat - Hargeisa, Somaliland

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Berbera December 28th 2013

Grumbling, slobbering camels surrounded me as the sunlight battled to break through the thick clouds. Their owners barked words, the obstinate camels loudly complained. A hazy blanket of dust gradually rose as dozens of camels shifted across the dirt ground. Some camels needed coaxing to move, which required much noise and activity. Feed was distributed, and this silenced most as they contentedly munched on their daily ration. For the first time, the scene had some semblance of order. My guide through Hargeisa’s animal market was Abdullah, a diminutive elderly man with a weathered dark face, whose quietly spoken voice held a thick accent. His clothes were dusty, but in such an environment, it would be impossible to keep them otherwise. “Where are you from?” questioned Abdullah. “Australia.” I replied. “You have many camels in Australia.” he ... read more
Scenery near Berbera - Somaliland
Cute looking camels - Hargeisa animal market, Somaliland
Muse Abdijama - guard of Las Geel, Somaliland

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland December 25th 2013

It is one of the least visited tourist destinations in the world. The mostly empty Ethiopian Airlines flight contained just one other fellow traveller as our small plane uneasily bobbled to its destination of Hargeisa in Somaliland. Passing through immigration and collecting luggage was relatively easy and I was soon in a taxi bouncing along rough roads of a city in the horn of Africa. The scene before me was exactly as I had imagined – dust and dirt was kicked up by the passing traffic, and when it parted, I could espy men sitting out the front of whitewashed walls, sipping a hot beverage and chatting beneath the warm sun. Children gambolled in the side streets amongst small squat homes with flat roofs, whilst the colour to this scene was added by the vibrant hues ... read more
Cali Mataan Mosque at dusk – Hargeisa, Somaliland
Mountains of money - Hargeisa, Somaliland
Cheeky Ethiopian girls - Hargeisa, Somaliland

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Berbera February 12th 2013

So, I unfortunately need to start this blog post with the story about how I wasn't assumed to be part of the CIA: After my eventful night, where I complained about the dangers of labeling me as the CIA to the police when they were trying to protect me, I was informed by the lovely Police Comissioner, "Hahaha, you think we think you are CIA? You are bad CIA then." Which was, of course, my opinion as well. It turns out that they thought it was a good joke to call me the CIA because they were 'protecting me' as if I was from the CIA, not just some random-white-tourist-guy. But since I was random-white-tourist-guy, as was apparent, they had a bit of fun refering to be me as 'CIA man'. I would have prefered to ... read more
More Old Buildings
My Beach
Berbera Round About

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland February 9th 2013

I set off from Hargeisa in mid-morning for the small mountain town of Sheikh, as suggested by the Director of Tourism. The ride was in a cramped shared taxi that was reminiscent of West Africa. We stopped for food and tea in a number of places before we finally climbed into the mountains that surrounded Sheikh. When I finally uncramped myself, I realized that I was in a beautiful natural environment with mountains ringing the town. I stayed in a small boarding house with students who were taking their international examinations in the town (apparently the number one secondary school in the country was there as well as the best vetrinary school in the Horn of Africa). The biggest problem was that it was really cold! As low as 6 degrees at night! I spent my ... read more
View of Sheikh
More Views of Sheikh
Again...

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Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa February 4th 2013

I have been able to spend a lot of time recently dealing with the bureacracy, and lack of mutual understanding between different departments of the government here. The Ministry of Tourism tells me I have to go to the police to be given permission to leave the city, the police tell me that I need to get permission from immigration, immigration tells me that they only do things related to immigration (that makes sense) and that maybe I should talk to the Ministry of Tourism. So I went back to the Ministry of Tourism and suddenly they give me the documents to prove I have been given permission to leave the city. That only took me three days (though one day was my fault, I went a bit crazy with my siesta time). I had spent ... read more
Camel Market - 3-Month old Camel
The Goats Always Had a Guard
Me and Some Cave Art

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa February 1st 2013

Reflecting that I only left Harar 3 days ago is a bit baffling because a lot has changed. I had to deal with my usual bus station obstacle course, though it was nothing compared to Gonder, and again got the front seat in a minibus heading towards Jijiga, the capital of Ogaden, the Somali area of Ethiopia. The first thing that I noticed was that bribes were quite evident at every checkpoint, either something I hadn't noticed before or something that is more common in that area. Next the geography changed completely. About 45 minutes outside of Harar we went through what is translated as "The Valley of Marvels", a rocky valley which is made up of some kind of rock that erodes in a number of interesting shapes. There was a lot of what appeared ... read more
Me Counting Some of My Shillings

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Berbera March 30th 2012

It was another early start today, as we wanted to visit the rock paintings in Laas Geel and get to Berbera by the afternoon. We took a bus down to the city centre and found where the cars were going to Berbera. For some reason, they have buses that provide local transport around Hargeisa, but to travel outside the city there are only shared taxis. A crowd of nearly 50 people gathered to see how the 3 white guys would get on, with everyone seeming to want to have their contribution. Half of them looked like they had been chewing chat since the night before. Chat is mildly narcotic leaf, that is chewed over the course of the day. It is fairly popular here in Somaliland and in parts of Ethiopia. We negotiated places in one ... read more
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Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa March 28th 2012

First to explain, Somaliland is a separate state to Somalia and has been since the early 90s. It just has not been recognised by the international community yet. So, this trip was not some suicide mission into Mogadishu nor was I in search of any pirates. I had been told that it was safe to visit and quite interesting. As I wanted to visit Harar in the east of Ethiopia, I decided it wasn't that much more of an effort to get to Somaliland. From Jijiga, we got a minibus to the border town of Wajaale. There, we completed the formalities on the Ethiopian side, had our bags checked not-that-thoroughly and walked through the rope across the street that formed the border and into Somaliland. We got stamped in and had some camel for breakfast. We ... read more
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Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa December 27th 2011

You live in Somalia where law and order is collapsing around you, a country where warlords and terrorists preach hate against your moderate values and beliefs. A country consumed by war and piracy in which you want no part, a country failing to provide the basic services that you need. Crippled by corruption and poverty, you look for a way out, a distant land rising from the rubble, a shining light amidst the political darkness, a glimmer of hope in the horn of Africa. That future is Somaliland. Mogadishu is the corrupt capital for the failed state of Somalia, a place where pirates and terrorists rule. The Fund for Peace has ranked Somalia number one according to its ‘Failed States Index’. Yet to the north, the breakaway region of Somaliland is stable and at peace. Un-recognized ... read more
My Bodyguard
Cattle Market
Somali Child




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