Somaliland: Back To the Motherland

Hargeisa , Somaliland – The plane touched down in Egal Airport around 11:30am. We were the first to leave the plane towards immigration as we were sitting in first class.

The plane parked very close to the arrival terminal. We needed no bus service as we walked towards the arrival gate. We were greeted by a uniformed officer who directed us to the immigration counter. The Immigration Officer scanned our passports and pointed us to the next window to pay the newly introduced Head Tax of $60 per person. Despite that my father argued with them saying that I’m too young to pay the tax but they insisted that we pay and my father paid. It came as a shock to me because I never anticipated there would be a charge like that without us being notified beforehand.
We dashed off towards the next exit which was the luggage hall, it was packed with uniformed porters who were lining up all of the arrived suitcases. I spotted our suitcases and dragged them towards the final exit gate. We were stopped again by an airline officer who checked that all our suitcases matched with our tag numbers. In front of the exit gate my dad’s (Abti) maternal uncle was waiting to collect us in a red land cruiser. We were then taken to a hotel very close to the airport called Adams (Holiday) Inn owned by my dad’s very close friend Adam. We were given the best room in the house where I saw the top view of Hargeisa which I’d have to say is absolutely amazing. At Adams Inn,  breakfast is served at 7:30am with a traditional Somaliland tea which was always made to perfection. I must admit that I have become hooked to this traditional tea so I don’t think I’ll be trying anymore English tea. Adams (Holiday) Inn is definitely by far the best hotel in Hargeisa with the best service and would be my home until our Hargeisa villa is vacated by its arrogant tenants who refused to let go of our property until they found themselves another property to rent.
As we had settled in the hotel my dad and I were escorted by my dad’s uncle to our first meal in Hargeisa at Dalxis Restaurant. In the Open air under the shade of a very old and huge tree,I was told to eat the traditional dish of camel meat. My dad was really enjoying the meal just like eating fish and chips back home telling his uncle that he had his last camel meat meal during his last visit 4 years ago. After finishing this meal I was told to drink the camel milk which I’ve always been told about ever since I was a child.  When the waiter brought the milk we asked for the price and he told us it was 20. Assuming he meant $20 my dad gave him the money not knowing it was actually 20K Somaliland shillings which is just under $3.00. When the waiter returned with the change I laughed with my dad saying he could have had us there.
My dad’s uncle brought in my dad’s Black Toyota Crown sedan and left it parked at the hotel parking with the keys at the reception. Although I can easily drive a small car , my father insisted not to until I learn other Somaliland drivers’ attitude toward the road. Because in all Somaliland the road belongs to all man and also animals who have equal rights of crossing and strolling the streets as they please which I soon caught on with very quickly. I was then enrolled at Caalami Najax Driving School run by a very kind woman called Ubax who insisted I take eight lessons of practical to learn how to drive a manual vehicle. It was difficult for me at first driving because I was not used to some parts of the road which had no concrete surface and consisted of some very bumpy and rough road.  My two biggest problems on the road were the goats and the small cars known as Toyota Yaris. But let me start with the goats as they would all come into the street and I would have to swerve past them as my teacher used to say watch out they’re really expensive. The funniest moment for me was when I realised that majority of goats would all have phone numbers of the owners written alongside them. There was also this funny rumour that the goats could speak Somali which always had me in tears. Secondly the people who drove the Toyota Yaris were cab drivers and the most annoying. They all thought they were the masters of the road by overtaking every vehicle and squeezing in the smallest of gaps being the main cause of traffic jams. Not long after I had completed my lessons and passed my test ;thanks to my teachers at Calami Najax Driving School who had welcomed me with open arms. To  be honest without them I don’t think I would have gained this vital experience. I would advise anyone seeking to learn how to drive in Somaliland or for anyone overseas returning back home like me to pay them a visit.

Already one month into my stay,  I became very adjusted to Hargeisa and its people but my only concern was the food.  Not that it wasn’t good but it seemed like every restaurant I’d been to had been serving the same food and had no real unique points. After a while I was longing for a nice home cooked meal which luckily for me my dad was too as we were invited by a very good friend of my father called Farhan Jamac Bureqa for a meal at his place with a few of my dad’s old friends from Liverpool. When we arrived I was shocked to see a five star meal prepared of all my favourites consisting of fish, chicken and lamb chops also whatever you could name. At the end it was topped off with a really nice desert which was also my first desert since leaving London.
My stay at Hargeisa was soon coming to an end and my journey to Berbera, Burco also the land of my great grandfather Koreye in Ceel Afweyn was to begin very shortly, stay tuned.
Khalid Koreye.