Blogs from Somaliland, Somalia, Africa

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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

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland December 26th 2010

“Don’t try and be a hero!” are the famous last words my dad said to me as we said our farewells for my 5th Journey. It’s the only thing that hurts about travelling sometimes. It’s letting down your family members in your selfish quest to discover new things about the world because you are too lazy to open up a book and read it for yourself. But these words that my dad said to me kept ringing in my head. But… even so it couldn’t shy me away from visiting a country that officially doesn’t exist, within a country that exists only by name. I apologise to all family members but once you read on you will realise this place is just too fascinating to miss out on. I head off from Harar in east Ethiopia ... read more
2 - Hargeisa at sunset
3 - a typical house in the east road of ethiopia and somlailand country areas
4 - Entrance to Somaliland from east of city

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa December 20th 2010

Today I'm finally leaving Somalia. Everything's packed and ready to go. I checked out and waited in the lobby for the shuttle to come. It was pouring rain when it came, and there was an armed guard waiting outside. You can't travel anywhere without one. The last time that happened, the vehicle was shot up. At Egal International Airport, the plane wasn't due for another 20 minutes, so I wandered around and read the plaque mounted on the side of the building. It commemorated the opening of the building in 1958. I'm almost nostalgic about leaving Somalia. The stifling weather was irritating and the monsoon rains created huge puddles everywhere. But some parts I will miss, like the Laas Geel cave paintings and the beach.... read more

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa December 19th 2010

I woke up with a headache and feeling cranky. My trip to the beach was canceled because of the monsoon rain. I went down to the dining area and ate a breakfast of millet porridge and milk. They were also serving a special, xalwo, which is a jelly-like candy made from water, sugar and honey. I ate half of the bread and left the other half untouched on the plate. In Somalia, it's polite to leave a little bit of food to show you were given enough to eat, and treated kindly. Afterward there was nothing interesting to do, so I spent the rest of the day lounging and looking for anything else interesting about the country. I found out that there's no truly functioning national government in Somalia and the local long form (name) for ... read more
Xalwo

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa December 19th 2010

The beach trip was rescheduled for today. When the bus pulled up, everyone going to the beach was clambering to get in. It was the only source of air conditioning outside, where it had to be at least 90 degrees. On the ride to the beach, the guide told us that Somalis followed their religion strictly, so no bathing suits allowed. She told us to swim in our clothes. When we got to the beach, it was all white sand and blue water. I saw some little boys playing soccer on the beach. There were also some fishing boats out in the water, since fish is another main export besides livestock. I put up an umbrella and sat down to read. A minute later everyone was screaming, "Come here and look at that fish!" Sure enough, ... read more
Berbera beach gulls

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa December 19th 2010

After the beach trip I was very tired. I'm leaving Somalia tomorrow, and I'm almost relieved. It's been extremely hot and humid, and the monsoon rains are deafening. But some parts I will miss, like the Laas Geel cave paintings and the beach. Right now, everything is already packed. To cap off the trip, I went snorkeling off the Berbera coast with my underwater camera. I saw a dolphin swimming by and the coral reefs were vibrant with color. A huge turtle passed me and I had to take a picture. After half an hour of exploring the water, the boat guide said it was time to go back. It was getting dark and the boaters didn't want to take chances with a run in with pirates. I climbed back on and the boat zoomed back ... read more
Penant fish

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa December 17th 2010

Today I went to visit the Laas Geel caves, which has cave paintings dating back to 9000 BC. The ride on the dirt road was really bumpy and my personal belongings were jumping out of my bag. The car had to slow down a few times because some goats and their herders wandered into the middle of the path. While I was at the caves, I saw a painting of a man taming a cow and an antelope. After an hour of sightseeing, I went back to my hotel and let jet lag catch up with me. After I woke up, I checked the brochure for any more places to visit. Bakara Market sounded interesting. When I saw where it was (Mogadishu, 19 hours away), and what they sold (things like weapons and stolen passports), I ... read more
Camel painting

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa December 16th 2010

Our plane just landed at Hargeisa Egal International Airport in Hargeisa, which is in northern Somalia. The country is just east of Ethiopia on the horn of Africa. the climate here is extremely hot and arid. The bus passed a lot of goats, one of their principal exports. When the bus arrived at the hotel, I asked for something to drink and got some Shah Hawaash, which is a traditional Somali drink. Water here isn't as great as the water in the US because it's contaminated. The guy at the front desk suggested to the tourists not to drink any water unless it's bottled. Tomorrow, I'm going to see the Laas Geel cave. The travel brochure said that it had a lot of cave paintings dating back to the BC's. Somalia has tons of sights to ... read more
Egal International Airport




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