A day out to Berbera
Berbera is the main port of Somaliland and is about two hours (by fast car on fast road - built by the British) from Hargeisa.
It is where my Uncle and Aunty met in 1960, so it has always been of interest to me. Well, it turns out that they did not meet here..... seems they just went down there for a weekend with my Mum!. Oh well... I have always been interested in going to Berbera.
It shows Arabic, Turkish, British influences along with the local Somaliland influences. Much of the town now is pretty run down and redeveloping Berbera does not seem to be the priority of the current government. Anyone fancy joining in a development project, turning a dilapidated Ottoman palace into a hotel?
It has a major ship terminal, a fishing port, plenty of fish (which Somalilanders do not particularly much like to eat) and a long sandy beach (Somalilanders also do not particularly like to swim either!). The water was deliciously warm.
We went down in a bus aranged by the Ambassador Hotel, along with a couple of security guards. We made a few stops along the way to admire the pretty scenery, much of it quite hilly. Dry scrub was interspersed with greener patches near the river beds, where we would see papaya plantations. Numerous birds including a very fine blue bird with a long tail and a whitish line across its breast, as well as a shrike with red tail feathers. I'd be trying to take pictures of as many camels as I could, so the others all tried to distract my attention when they saw a camel coming up which I had not seen. We did gets some snaps of some baboons down on the coastal plain towards Berbera.
We were told that we shoukld also go to Sheikh where the current elite was eductaed. It is back up in the mountains above Berbera and is nice and cool in the summers. Quite cool enough everywhere for it not to matter too much now. It was a lovely drive up the windy road, with beautiful views back across to the coastal plain. Sheikh itself was on a plateau, so not so picturesque, but we had time to walk around, look at some Soviet buildings - some flats and a hospital, the Sheikh's tomb, the old school and a ruined colonial house.
Back down in Berbera we had lunch at a fish restaurant on the beach overlooking the port, with camels wandering around on the beach next door. After this we walked around the old town, past all the dilapidated houses of various architectural designs, warheouses and palaces, streets inhabited by young children playing football, delighted to pose for a photo. All very sphereful. Then it was time to drive the two kilometers to the long sandy beach, where I was the only one to make it into the warm clear water, splashing about in the waves. It felt great. Great to be here, great to be back home!