Logistics report from a Somalian road

Somalia, February 15, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    courtesy of tripadvisor.com  </span>
    The road to Erigavo. Photo: courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Ooh…what a long and rugged terrain we have traveled as we pass snapshots of desert life: desert fox, Thomson gazelles and many confusing feeder roads. The two main plains of this area — which we call ban seraar and ban caase — are too intriguing to be forgotten, as even the most experienced driver can easily get lost despite traveling them just the other day. It is a nine-and-a-half-hour drive nonstop from Burao to Erigavo in Somaliland.

In preparation for the journey, you not only need to equip yourself physically with emergency food and supplies, but psychologically with survival techniques and a sense of adventure. But, nevermind, the trip is equally enjoyable and breathtaking. You traverse Eel Afweyne, Kaal Ade and Yufle before the Surad and Daalo Mountains appear far along the horizon.

My destination looks so near, yet so far. Will I ever reach Erigabo or is it Erigavo? Somali spellings are never sure. Yaawa…I am so tired and my conversation with the driver fades away, my eyes are tired and my legs are numb. Finally, the Golis mast appears in the distance and Faysal, the driver, tells me we are remaining with only a few kilometers to reach the mountain range.

And, finally, we have reached Erigavo. Welcome to the dusty and rocky town.

From the look, you will conclude it must be a hot and hostile desert, but be warned. The place gets quite cold and for those who have shower phobia, you better think twice. Daytime is relatively hot outside, but freezing inside the building. At night, and especially the early morning hours…Waaw! It reminds me of July in Nairobi — just cold — you will need two to three blankets. The town is old with very basic services. Warm clothes are advisable, but light clothes during day time.

In shanty cafes, supper is normally over by five o'clock and lunch, fatty mutton meat, is served midday. There are few internet cafes. At least the one next to the Golis community organization office had a printer and a scanner. I was told there is a projector for hire somewhere in town, but I’m not really sure.

For accommodation, you need to call and book a hotel in advance or hope staff from another international organization are out in the field and you can get a room in their guesthouse. For more information, consult me for just a little fee…just kidding. Good luck for any folks planning future trips.

Where do I head next? I am at your service and disposal, I am contributing this piece now, but remember — even Internet is rationed here and your ideas might reach me quite late.