Somalilandsun – Below is the unedited version of tourists visit report detailing his groups travels in Somaliland, especially the eastern parts and encounters with its citizens
My dear Yusuf,
Could I please ask for the hospitality of your columns for a second time? I would so like to write to thank the people of your country for our second delightful visit to Somaliland between 30th March and 10th April, this time to the eastern regions. This time our journey took us – roughly – from Hargeisa to Sheekh to El Afweyn to Erigavo, then down the marvellous Daallo escarpment to Maydh, then Xiis, Karim, El Daraad, Berbera and into Hargeisa again.
Your Ministry of Tourism of course helped us immeasurably, but I would in particular like to record our huge pleasure in encountering the kindness of strangers almost everywhere we went. Having returned to the UK, I have not lost time in contacting our FCO in explaining that the security situation in Somaliland is not just viable, but positively welcoming. It is so wrong, and misinformed, to imagine that Somaliland is unsafe. The four of us felt very strongly about this. There is so much that I have to say & will be reporting to your Tourism Ministry, but in a nutshell, there was absolutely nowhere that we felt unsafe, and everywhere we felt welcomed, protected and looked after.
Some of our most memorable moments are the welcome we had in Erigavo, especially from Ahmed Haaji Adan, son of the great poet AfQallooc; he showed us the beauties of the Merishi valley, as well as his own home with his wife’s beautiful bee colonies. We also remember the kindness of the people of Maydh; the hospitality we found in Xiis; and many other instances of kindness.
Our trip nearly foundered when the 2 vehicles we had hired from Hargeisa collapsed in the desert sands about 4 miles east of Ceel Daraad, on the way to Berbera. The entire village mobilised to rescue us and our vehicles, and a marvellous gentleman called Abdirahman Omar Gagale loaded all 4 of us, plus SPU and luggage, onto his lovely fishing boat the Edil – named after his daughter – and took us all the way to Berbera up the Gulf of Aden, 5 hours of coasting followed by dolphins: his crew held our hands while we were on the ship in case we slipped, as the winds were severe and they were determined to look after us. Forget pirate stories: this is the reality of Somaliland kindness, and these are memories that we will carry with us forever and relate to everyone we know.
All the best to you in lovely Somaliland, and with gratitude for a simply marvellous time,
later communication added this
Btw the headman of Ceel Daraad moved immediately to get us into shade and ensure our first (by then missing) vehicle was looked after – he sent 10 men into the desert with shovels and water and tea. There was total effieciency and 100% protection operating in that place.
I will never forget the wonderful kindness of that day! You have a marvellous country full of extraordinary people. Last thought before bed: Abdirahman, the boat owner, was seriously interested in anthropology, so while we were wobbling like mad in the big waves off your shore, he was telling us that we need to understand the relationships between the Oromo and Axumite civilisation in order to study the northern Somali coast. As you can imagine,we will never forget that day!
All the best,