She is seriously never going to trust me again. Mom, look, I am sorry. You just worry too much when I go places that you think are dangerous – and let’s be honest – you have enough to worry about right now without me adding to it. So maybe I stopped by Somaliland again on my way to Tanzania… but I am actually in Tanzania now – and you had nothing to worry about.
I have to say, Somaliland is the most eventful uneventful little country I work in. Over the course of less than four days – where essentially all I did was work – lots of things managed to happen. First I got to take my first armed convoy ride. This time I decided save a day of travel and add a bit of adventure to my life by flying commercial into the country through Ethiopia rather than taking the UN charter flight from Kenya. (The runway in the capital has completely fallen to dust. And, despite the rusting MiGs, we built that one. The one the Russians built up 2.5 hours up on the coast can still handle jets – and therefore is the only commercial entryway into the country.) Commercial travel is a slightly different experience. The guy sitting across the aisle was having qat as his inflight snack. And when you disembark, a great negotiation begins as to whether or not you need a visa, what said visa might cost, whether you need to pay entry fees on top of your visa, and what those might be. We settled on a free visa, $10 for my UN passport, with $3 additional to pay for the official stamps. The other UN guy in my convoy was apparently not as skilled a negotiator as I was – he had to pay $4 for his stamps.
I am including – in addition to the usual pictures – a video of Somaliland -driving from Berbera in the north to Hargeisa. (I wanted to add one more but it would take most of my natural life to upload.) And the white blocks in the photos are raw salt being sold in the market, while the big mushy looking ones are dates imported from Saudi.