Somaliland: A Trip To The Unknown, back in Boston.

Boston, Sept 01,2009 (SomalilandPress)-Hello to my dear readers from the US. I have safely arrived back in Boston and I would feel incomplete if I did not publish a final article of “A Trip to the Unknown” for SomalilandPress.

I suppose the trip home is most fresh in my mind, so let me start with that. In my first article, I explained that I planned to fly to Hargeisa with Air Ethiopia as I had heard negative rumors about flying to Hargeisa with Daallo. Well, Air Ethiopia has been unofficially renamed “Air Inshallah”, and it seems that Daallo is in fact a much more reliable alternative for traveling to Hargeisa. Should I have the chance to return to Somaliland in the future I will most likely look for a flight on Daallo, complete with the chickens and lack of air conditioning. What matters is knowing you will arrive. When passengers showed up at Egal Airport on Thursday as scheduled, we all checked in our bags, received our boarding passes, and after waiting for some time were finally told that the flight would not be leaving today, but should hopefully leave tomorrow. When tomorrow came, nobody knew if the plane would leave or not and we were told not to go to the airport unless summoned, and that it may leave Saturday but the status was uncertain. With help from my dear Somaliland family and to make a long story short, the Air Ethiopia flight left eventually, more than a day later than expected. In the US, such a situation would leave everyone in an uproar, completely enraged and screaming and probably threatening to sue whoever would be willing to listen. But in Hargeisa, we all just went home and agreed to try again tomorrow. Nobody attempted to get a refund or even a free meal. I had brought some sambusa with me to the airport, expecting to have to wait, and in typical Somali fashion other passengers dug right in, sharing my food without even asking permission. One woman had tea, and we had a remarkably pleasant time waiting for the mystery flight. When the plane finally took off and successfully landed in Addis, the other passengers and I shared heart-felt goodbyes and exchanged email addresses.

Upon arriving in the States, one difference I noticed right way is the abundance of entertainment options that welcome you here. From movies to clubs to BBQs to sailing, I feel excited and overwhelmed by the possibilities of how to spend my free time. In Somaliland, I have to admit that social opportunities are lacking. Since there are no regular dance or music venues, no movie theatres or big sporting events, one of my favorite sources of entertainment (and I assure you I’m not alone on this one) was attending weddings, especially at Panorama. I learned about some great Somali wedding traditions, such as preparing dates that are wrapped in meat (muqmad) which the bride’s family offers the groom to open as a symbol concluding the wedding ceremony.

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One magical thing about being in Somaliland, at least for me, was the general and contagious sense that if basic needs were met, anything else was extra. When things did not work out as intended, you knew it would be okay and work out eventually, that you were just following the natural path of the world. And it didn’t matter anyway, as long as you and those around you were safe and healthy. This made things that might just be expected elsewhere, from tea to clean clothes to fruit juice to fresh water and good company, gain extra value so you really appreciated them. I have been trying to cling to this attitude despite my physical relocation, but I can feel it slipping away from me as I merge again with this fast-paced society. Just yesterday I was driving here in Boston and I went the wrong way. I could feel my blood pressure rising with frustration as I drove around aimlessly. Then I remembered Hargeisa, where driving around aimlessly was one of my favorite past times. Why does doing the very same thing seem suddenly so different?

As I write the last lines of my last article, having already left the country, I just want to extend a deep and sincere thanks to the many people who have helped make my stay as wonderful as it was. The hospitality extended to me was incredible, the attitude contagious, the experience priceless. I hope to return to Somaliland soon. I also send my encouragement to the people of Somaliland and all of Somalia. I hope that peace becomes your faithful friend, that the scheduled elections yield positive results, and that the country moves in a positive direction, whatever that may be. Ramadan Karim and thank you for reading.

Emily Huston


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