Sunday, November 06, 2005

An odd day in Hargeisa

An odd day, it seems at the end of it. And it started with a liver, tomato, onion and chili dish for breakfast!

We were picked up by a large Toyota Land Cruiser, which we had appeared to have hired for the day, when a cheap bus down to the centre would have sufficed as far as we were concerned.... but there you go...

We were let out at intervals to go and visit the market, the camel and sheep market, the hospital (was I really born at this place? - it wasn't how I imagined it.. but you can tell me, Mum!), the bank, for lunch and here and there. But mostly we had company, which was fine.

We met very many very friendly people and came across a few nutters, mostly of the religious - are you a Muslim - and if not, why not, variety, but mostly the atmosphere was fine and like yesterday, I would get an extra handshake once they found out that I was born here.

We actually spoke to quite a few elderly men who would have been around when I was born, good to see some older people, as in Ethiopia there are not so many.

Many qat chewers about which we will talk later, but we have still not tried it and do not intend to.

Commercial Hargeisa seemed to be bustling as we expected.

At the camel and sheep market we seemed to be somehow responsible for a fight and some heated exchanges between a couple of teh farmers there. Very BIG and FAT camels we saw.

Had a lovely luinch of roasted goat with Somali rice at a place owned by Edna's stepson, and we discussed a few business opportunities, including developing a resort somewhere along the coast where we have to install a cable car to avoid a six hour drive down the cliffs... sounds great, if a bit expensive!

Back at teh hotel we have run into all sorts of luminaries, including the Somaliland Representative in Ethiopia, a big commercial man from Mogadisho (introduced to us as a warlord, hopefully tongue-in-cheek), two freedom fightling women, also from the Somali capital, both looking quite formidable, a pretty woman from London who is daughter of arenowned general and the like.

Odd to be in this hotel at the top of a hill to the south of the city (views across to the 'maidens' breasts' in the north-east), eating dinner outside in the garden, despite the cool - cold - evening temperatures, watching satellite TV, while the city lives and bustles in this non-recognised country in the valley down below. We seem to be very distant... almost as if we are working for UN or World Bank..... the sort of organisations who try their best to avoid contact with the locals.

A bit rushed here as internet is expensive... but hope to have given you a bit of a flavour. Lunch with Edna tomorrow. We will see what she says about us possibly staying at a hotel in or nearer the centre. She is our sponsor, so we respect her wishes and we certainly do not want to get into any kind of trouble.

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