I have often said over the last twenty five years ‘ I was born in Hargeisa but I have never been to Somaliland’. That saying was consigned to the ash heap of history when three friends and I decided to take the proverbial trip of a lifetime to Somaliland to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the independence of our nation.
What had started as coffee shop talk ballooned into concrete action as we bought tickets, looked into hotels through Trip Advisor. Yes, Hargeisa’s hotels can be rated on that website. Anticipation and exhilaration and the excitement of a child on Eid coursed through our veins. One of my fellow Somaliland travellers had never been there; I too claimed a share of that statement for I had never been to Somaliland.
Logistics worked out, we flew. Our expectations fed by years of Facebook, YouTube, and other Somaliland websites along with countless phone calls made, were no match for what we came across. The total 17 hours of the flight seemed like a hop and a skip. Like kids in a candy store, we could not hide our utter joy. We said hello to everyone we ran into, as our fellow passengers fell into the slumber of a long flight, we chatted the night away, caught up on all the movies we had missed. Any opportunity to smile at someone was not missed, they must have thought we were giddy or something. We waived them off and kept on muttering ‘Who said you can’t go home again ‘.
The magic of flight brought on a visceral thrill that people feel on their way to outer space. Honestly that is how this particular flight felt. And no I have never been to outer space. Back to Earth, buoyed by the service provided by the carrier and our own joy, we glided into Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our smiles were no much for those of the people at the airport. Stress, so it would seem, is something that is contrived only in the west.
As we later landed at Egal International Airport, Hargeisa, Somaliland on the 15th of May, 2016. The occasion of our first visit to the country was made even more special when we later learned that the President Of Somaliland’s flight would land just after ours and the red carpet we saw airport officials roll out was for him. To me, it cemented what I had always believed. With Allah on our side, we will not falter.
The trip of a lifetime had just begun. The fun was about to start.