Archive for the ‘Somalia’ Category

Somaliland Denied (Round 2)

March 16, 2010

We had our driver hired, bags packed, schedule set, and the Ethiopia visa office gave us the big “no.”  They refused to give us a visa while our current visas were valid.  We would have to apply for a multiple entry visa and wait overnight, thus throwing a wrench into our tight schedule.  So, we headed south toward the South Omo Valley. 

The first day we drove from Addis (after our awesome visa experience) to Awassa.  I really love the rural 3rd world.  One of my favorite experiences that everyone should have at least once is arriving in a city or town that has absolutely no power.  Because the entire city is dark, everyone is walking around the town, eating by candle light, and enjoying the chaos.  Surprisingly this brings out the best in everyone’s moods.  Smiles are everywhere and life is great. 

Day  two we headed from Awassa to Arba Minch.  There is an incredible national park located here and we dropped our things off and went straight to a boat to go see crocodiles and hippos.  This was one of the coolest things I have ever done.  Being 10 feet away from a 15 foot crocodile is amazing.  The hippos freaked me out a bit, but some great pictures are now mine. 

Tomorrow we will go spend the day in the national park to check out the zebras, kudus, and baboons.  We are staying at a great lodge on a hillside overlooking Lake Chamo.  I’ll upload pictures tomorrow hopefully…

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Somaliland bound

March 14, 2010

With all of our free time due to Yemen falling through, we are able to go overland to Hargeisa, Somaliland. This trip by car will take four days round trip, with an overnight in Hargeisa. Last night we secured a vehicle and driver to take us to the border town of Jijiga, where we will cross the border and take a 4 hour bus ride. This is all contingent on us being able to get a visa for reentry from the Ethiopian government before we leave. I have a feeling that money will be exchanged today. I don’t know what the internet capabilities of Somaliland are, so this blog may be dark for the next 4 days or so. How bad can a 30 hour car ride one way be?

In Africa/Middle East things change quickly…

March 14, 2010

Yemen is out. Apparently there have been convoys from the airport bombed recently (including a South Korean man on his way to his hotel). 3 Germans are confirmed dead and a number of English, French and German hostages being held now. This opens up the possibility of Somaliland again with the extra time we now have. I am not at all concerned about going to Hargeisa. It’s just a really long car ride. We’re trying to work out the rental car situation now to see what the possibilities are. We might look at some other African countries while we’re here.  Unfortunately Yemen will go back on the shelf.  My desire not to be kidnapped and murdered (while just a remote possibility) trumps my desire to see Sana’a.

Somaliland Denied Entry…

March 13, 2010

We showed up at the airport this morning only to find our Jubba Airways flight rerouted to Mogadishu.  Neither of us had any plans to go to the south of Somalia, so we went back to the center of the city to find a taxi.  The idea was that we can rent a cab to the border town of Loya’ada, have lunch, then drive back to Djibouti.  We arrived at the border, and the border control were not happy at all to see us.  They basically gave us an ultimatum that we could continue 20 hours to the capital of Somaliland and be denied return entry to Djibouti(we obviously did not have the supplies for this, and it risked us being stranded in Somaliland), or we could turn around and go back to Djibouti City.  The choice was not really a choice.  We will arrive in Addis again tonight and make our contingency plans (whether to rent trucks to Somaliland from Addis, or renting a car and doing a DIY tour of southern Ethiopia).  We did see some great sights on the way to the border.  We obviously had to take the random picture with the camel.  The road was really awful.  I ended up taking about 20 minutes of video of the drive just because nobody would believe the terrain this little Russian Lada car was going over.  It is definitely high on the list of most terrible roads I have ever been on.  I guess we have to pack our things and get to the airport to head back to the thin, oxygenless air of Ethiopia.  I’ll update the blog after we figure out where we are planning on going.

Visas arranged, we are in transit

March 11, 2010

Four days have past in Ethiopia, and my travel partner and I are at the airport on our way to Djibouti City, Djibouti. Addis is a great city! However we spent most of the last four days taking care of logistics. We had to get visas from the Somaliland liason office and we managed to tweak our schedule enough to accomodate an extra country: Yemen. I am so excited to see Sana’a, Yemen. It has been on my wish list for some time now, and since we are here on the horn of Africa, it just makes sense to get it out of the way now. The Somaliland visa took exactly 11 minutes. Those eleven minutes also included an interview with the consular general who explained that Somaliland was the safest place on earth, and that we wouldn’t have any problems. It is important to know that he does have a horse in this race. The Yemen visa was a series of jumping through hoops to make the visa agent comfortable with us. First we had to go obtain a letter from our embassy that recognized and applauded the Republic of Yemen, then we had to change $27 (no more, no less) from USD to Ethiopian Birr and obtain a receipt. Then we had to come back between the hours of 12:00 and 1:30 and leave our passports. Twenty-seven dollars. This would make some sense if $27 was the price of the visa, but no, not even close.

So now we are at the airport on our way to the “hottest city on earth.” Unfortunately they are not talking about the club scene. It is just really hot. One thing that I forgot to mention about Addis Ababa – the elevation. Addis sits at over 8,000 ft. That is almost twice the elevation of Denver. The lack of oxygen when you leave the airplane is no joke. We have both been wheezing around Addis like 70 year old smokers. That’s all for now, we’ll see how Djibouti goes.