Short stories from Mogadishu

Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, where I am doing some extensions with Unicef, is a mother child hospital where all services are free.

I rode the bus and tuk tuk(tricycle) van from the airport to site. Mogadishu has a road drainage problem. Road was effing flooded.

The flight attendants in the return flight from Mogadishu are think are not properly motivated by the company. They didn’t bother with regular announcements. The flight was smooth though.

That’s all for this trip.

How do you sue an airline

This is the question I have asked myself since morning. I have turned it around my head many times it is now tender. And can that charge sheet include lost sleep, loss of business, time wasted, emotional trauma and all? You see, I had a reservation for Mogadishu on Fly Ade scheduled to leave Nairobi at 6:40am. Since I live 40minutes, on a good day, away from the airport, I had to wake up early and all. These fellows cancelled the flight after 7 and without notice. I called our travel agent who didn’t know or if they knew, it must have been while I was at the airport. Maybe I should enjoin them in the case. The only question I have for them is what did they know, when did they know and what did they do with it. SB, the ball is on your court.

In a different story, I got to reflecting how dignitaries those who move around in a convoy of cars with outriders and chase cars feel. You see I was in this situation where I am in a armoured car, with armed outrider and chase car cruising fast through the streets of Mogadishu and I am asking myself whether I feel more safe that way or would it be much better if I were in a nondescript car without guards? My preference is obviously for anonymity whenever it is possible. I know this is strange since this blog is a contradiction to my preferring anonymity. Life is what it is, so they say.

In still a different story, I have been reflecting on the negative effects of armed conflict and looking at the state of the city of Mogadishu. Humanity must find a way to resolve its problems without resorting to war. 25 years of civil war is bad. It will take lots of work to have a working government in this place.

In unrelated news, I am reading a book on the assassination of Martin Luther King and the cover up is beyond shocking.

Related to the unrelated news is the situation in Venezuela which seems as a calculated attempt by some countries to overthrow a legitimate government. But this is a story for later, though one could read this and this.

Stories from Mogadishu

In the last few months, my most interesting experiences have had to do with Somalia. For most people, interesting would not be used to describe Somalia. Maybe I have a dry sense of humour or I need interesting things in my life since I find Somalia quite interesting.

You see, I was back again in Mogadishu and for some reason the guys at immigration were not sure I should be allowed in and took two hours to make this decision. And even then, forgot to stamp my passport and so for about 30 minutes, I was an undocumented alien in Mogadishu.

The insecurity situation in Somalia should end. We spent two days in Mogadishu because we couldn’t find a flight that would take us 90km out. A 18 fucking minutes flight. Next time I will strike a deal with AMISOM to give me a ride in their tanks. Keep it here for future stories.

So we were in this plane where I think the wear a seatbelt is a mockery. Either there were no seatbelts or there were many of us and so no one bothered with them. Good interesting life..

What I find annoying is dealing with uncertainty. And no, it has nothing to do with security. I have before mentioned their concept of time. So imagine a situation when you can’t tell that a scheduled flight will actually be available. I was in a situation like this for two days and eventually flew to a beautiful green town which was wet and hot or is it hot and wet.

Anyway, I am back to NBI, where unless the clueless governor does something stupid, which is his wont, then life is pretty much regular.

from Mogadishu with love

Of all my trips to Mogadishu, this was the least eventful. There were dancers like those who received me in Garowe, no running across the terminal like the last time I was there.

That said, however, I took a picture in a restricted street. The guard saw and almost ate me and my phone whole. We, that is, I and my colleagues from Somalia were able to convince him there was no ill intent. We deleted the one picture and I was left to go on with my business. Mental note: no taking photos left and right.

There was an explosion near my hotel. No, I wasn’t hurt.


I like the mosque coming up in the foreground

I think this was dusk at the beach

how not to take a picture

who would have thought the beach is this full of life

no good travel blog ends without food

view from somewhere to the airport

here is where to buy your tickets

tuk tuks are everywhere

from Mogadishu with love

First, a disclaimer. I am not a story teller. That position is held by the likes of Tish and Ark. I don’t think it is even possible to train me to be a story teller. The saying you cannot teach an old dog new tricks must have been said with me in mind. And so, I own that saying. Having made the above declaration, we can now go ahead with my retelling of my trip to Mogadishu.

The airline we flew to Mogadishu, must, as was observed by my colleague, have a contract with a funeral home. We flew an EMB 120, which felt and looked liked it was the first to be made for commercial flights and when the many owners got tired of operating it, African Express discovered in a plane junkyard and put it back together. However, to their credit, the crew managed to take us smoothly to Somalia. I slept most of the trip and when I was not sleeping, I was reading or eating or drinking something.

There was no incident at immigration, thank goodness.

Now, I don’t know about you, but for $150 in Kenya, a taxi could take you for a journey across counties, say Nairobi to Nakuru and back and if you were to hire a car, that would be sufficient for two day hire and fuel to and fro Kisumu. And if it is one of these Toyota cars that flood our market that seem to only smell fuel, you could save some money for simple accommodation on the way. If you are in Mogadishu, that’t the fare from the airport to a hotel 300m away, no kidding.

That’s the boring part. The interesting part is we were picked up in an armored car, with an outrider and chase car. At the hotel, we had the option of wearing bullet proof vests, an opportunity I let pass. They looked too heavy, the heat quite a lot and I don’t think there was anyone who would want to kidnap a broke ass Kenyan who the government may not even miss. So we drove through backstreets and main roads like we owned the place, a feeling I am yet to place. Sometimes they even drove on the wrong side of the road if traffic was slow, it felt like being VIP, or maybe they were trying to justify the $1200 fee we were going to pay at the end.

For $150 a night hotel, we got cold showers. There was the option for no water in the room, though my friend refused that and had to be moved to a smaller room. While I had water, the amount paid meant the shower does no drain. I didn’t ask if there were additional charges for working sanitary fittings, maybe for the next trip.

I think electrical engineers and electricians in Mogadishu need a few lessons on how hotel guests use rooms. For $150, I want a bedside lamp, a ceiling rose not a fluorescent light bulb.

To their credit, they serve very good tea. Their breakfast is hopeless, I mean, really hopeless.

For this trip, I will not mention the two times my bag was searched by a dog, first as you enter the terminal and second in the departure lounge just before boarding. It’s called not taking chances with your security.

A travel report is not complete without pictures, or as they say in our cycling group, if it is not on strava, it didn’t happen.

and you can see the communication tower at the airport from the hotel

beautiful blue sky from the hotel rooftop

for $150 we spell the way we want

how else do you know you are safe? the key and all spares to the main door are seen here hanging

my $150 room

in other places, the hotel gives you one key and a tag with your room number, in other places, they give you all the keys!

it was time to return to Nbi