An amazing day, really.
It was just a nice relaxing day, to be spent walking around Hargeisa, with nothing much planned, apart from a visit to Ethiopian Airlines office to see if we could change our flight to Uganda, as we would rather not go to that dangerous country at the moment.
It was a cloudy start to the early morning, yesterday we had a November mist, but by breakfast it had cleared. Fuad served us our usual breakfast of fresh papaya with lime, toast and jam, coffee/cappuccino, and a pancake for Fred, tuna omelette for me, as the sun and the breeze came in through the open windows, pink lavatera just waving around outside.
We got to take the bus down the hill and into town, where we got off to have a look at Hargeisa On-line, the fastest and cheapest internet point I have ever been to. Managed to upload a bunch of photos from yesterday and write a short blog.
Then we went across the raod for a coffee, when it started..... Hello Mr Char-les, how are you? Hello Somalilander! You were born in 1961! How is your sister? What do you think of Somaliland? Did you go to Borama yesterday? Many would also know that Fred was Dutch and we were travelling through Africa....., so he was not left out either.
Everywhere we went the whole day we were greeted by people who had seen the programme. (It had been repeated last night as well). Cars would stop, buses would stop. A lady in red would tell me that she too was Briitish, living in London, and was also born here and delivered by Edna Adan! My African sister!
It was a great experience for a day.. wouldn't want to have that every day... and we spent the day with big smiles on our faces.
At the Ethiopian Airlines office we bumped into Mr Doolable, who apparently owns one of the newspapers here - Hatuf - and he had seen the programme and offered to take us to teh Hargeisa Club, where my parents had spent many many hours of their time in Hargeisa.
Just at the same time, another camera crew turned up and wanted to interview me, this time for a film they are making about Somaliland which they hope to distribute in London, so I duly obliged.
Near the Hargeisa Club, we saw the two bridges which had been washed away five months ago in the Hargeisa tsunami, both having been built by the British. The Club had been rebuilt in the old style and we even saw the bar, now just selling soft drinks. Easy to imagine the place 40-50 years ago though... and many of the trees would have been there at the tiem as well. We talked about how we should try to preserve some of the oral history of Hargeisa, so much having been destroyed by Siad Barre in the civil war. I mean to chat to my Dad, my Mum, my uncle and their colleagues when I get back....
Had lunch with Hassan at the Hadhwanaag Hotel and chatted more about Hargeisa and the changes that he had seen take place here... notably how the old culture has disappeared.
Back here, we closed the discussion we had had yesterday with the cheats who had taken us to Borama, before going off to have dinner in the garden, in the cool of the evening. The garden of the Ambassador Hotel is well spread out and has little terraces surrounded by flowering shrubs on which one table will be placed, there are a number of these terraces spread around, at various levels, such that the poor waiters ahve to run and shuffle between the kitchen and the guests. All quite entertaining and we are lucky to have the smiling, courteous and very efficient Fuad as our personal waiter! In fact, all the staff at the Ambassador have been very friendly and it has been a great pleasure to stay here.
Tomorrow we go to Berbera, on the coast. It was in the news today because the first commercial shipment of goods for Ethiopia was due to arrive and be despatched. All the ministers and our friend Ambassador Youssef were down there for the occasion. It turns out that Dubai has bought the port of Djibouti and increased the fees. Ethiopia doesn't want to be held to ransom in this way, so it is making use of the new Berbera corridor, along which goods can be transported through Hargeisa and onto Jigjiga for further transport in Ethiopia. Good news for Somaliland.