Friday, January 10, 2014

First impressions-Somalia

The office closed on the 20th and everyone is on leave up to the 5th and I have to go to the field on 24 how unfair.The  'misfortune' of being new and therefore on probation you can't argue/negotiate.......... like please can I just stay and go on the 6th.Well substantial amount of work has been covered in the past few days so all is not so bad.

The Adan Abdulle airport in Mogadishu is really nice and by the sea :-) you will be surprised at how beautiful the sea is here. Its controlled by AMISOM and me being me, think all the AMISOM are KDF and  decide to say habari zenu blank stares???????(thinking to myself sometimes I speak too quickly so probably they haven't heard me)  then I inquire and find out that they are Ugandan but Museveni speaks Kiswahili how come they don't?

The travel to Luuq is somehow long because there is no direct way, you have to travel to Mogadishu then Baidoa then Dollow and finally Luuq.I reach Dollow at around 11.30 am and everyone else is picked expect me what to do I can't call anyone, so I ask for a ride from one of the cars there and I go to the office and the guys go like no one told us you are coming but no worries atleast I got the lift. The admin guy here is really nice and gets me a hormuud line and airtime as a way of saying sorry for not showing up to pick me :-).

Dollow looks like Takaba without the hills the houses are very colourful and they even accept KES in the town so maybe an extension of Mandera............There is an IDP camp on the outskirts of the town and as expected WFP has this huge tents to store food.The IDPs here do not live in tents but they have houses made out of iron sheets :-)

The travel from Dollow to Luuq is 3 hours and its the usual field travel bad dusty roads although now I'm pretty scared thinking the AS are somewhere on the road.

Luuq town is like some small island that is surrounded by the river Juba, its controlled by the Ethiopian forces and has only one entrance(this is what I'm told) at the bridge.There you'll have to get off for inspection by the soldiers manning the bridge.They inspect the car and conduct physical searches for men since they cannot conduct physical searches for women you have to like shake your clothes(like shaking water/dust out of them) its called Arguf :-D.Inside the town so many outside tea places and road side vendors which also includes money vendors who keep their cash in metal boxes..............So I exchange my upkeep in the field into Somali money and now I'm officially a Somali Millionaire(to put this in perspective a cup of tea is 30,000 so this Somali millionaire  has just enough money to cover a lot of tea :-) and Somalia(Rural Somalia) so far apart from the ocean is just another Mandera/Wajir.

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