Sunday, April 29, 2012

Longest flight from Mogadishu to Nairobi

I reluctantly left Mogadishu this morning after a short week's visit. On the other hand, I was really glad to take a breather from the relentless heat and humidity, I have never sweated that much.

I got to the airport with just the driver, at 8am, and found myself in a bizarre fight with one of the ladies at the AMISOM security check point. I walked into the room and found 3 ladies busy with other passengers so I waited till the Ugandan officer was free, the other 2 were Somali. I found them all to be rude and have an attitude issue but kept my mouth shut. Then the Ugandan lady only searched one of my bags and walked out! I stood there to see what would happen and then one of the Somali ladies, while busy sending an SMS, made a weird remark: "She is too proud to be searched by a Somali so let her wait for the Ugandan lady to come back", referring to me! I was like, WTF woman, it is too early in the morning to pick a fight so let's just get on with it. I told her I had no reason to be too proud and if she doesn't mind to plz search by bags as I am already late for my flight. She gets more aggressive and gets up to give me an aggressive lecture about the bad attitude 'Somali Diasporas' have when they 'show up' in Mogadishu...Err! I then lose my cool and tell her to go get laid so she will be a nicer person. That didn't help, she just got madder so I had to walk out and speak to her supervisor, a calm Ugandan soldier. He must have found the whole thing too weird, having to mediate between 2 Somali women shouting at each other in Somali, not a graceful sight. 

I finally get the eff out of that place and in to the literally melting airport. Visa's are charged at 50USD and exit tax at a hefty 40USD and yet the small immigration hall doesn't have AC and the 2 toilets are filthy you would easily hold it till you get to Nairobi! Where is the money going? The airport is constantly busy with at least 2 flights 3 times a week, how come the place looks like an IDP camp?

We leave for Nairobi almost at 11, don't count on public information or an apology if your flight is late, you just have to sit there and marinate in your sweat. Flight to Wajir (the mandatory stop for any flight leaving Somalia/land for security reasons) took a short 45 minutes. We get ushered like cows into the immigration office with strict security checks, all the bags are loaded off the plane to be screened as Mogadishu still does not have screening machines. I find an elderly Somali man who has never traveled outside Somalia and doesn't speak English. He seemed weak and limped, when I asked what is wrong with his leg, he showed me a big bandage covering most of his leg to stop the stuff coming out of his swelled skin. He was going to Nairobi for treatment and his son was waiting for him there. I filled the visa form for him and translated when needed, he was so calm and patient and a gentle soul. I decided to hangout with him, maybe he can rub a bit of his gentleness on my badly wired mood this morning. 

45 minutes later we board the plane and head for Nairobi. You would think 2 screenings in Nairobi and 1 in Wajir would be enough, no. We are made to go thorough security check all over again in Nairobi. This time they have to meticulously check each name and passport photo against list of passengers given by the airline. There are 2 immigration officers, a police officer and the captain checking. We landed at exactly 2pm and by the time they were done it was 3:20! The taxi driver outside called few times but I tell him there is nothing I can do and to please wait. We get out of that hell place and I am thinking, finally, we can just walk thorough immigration since we have visas from Wajir. Turns out few people, including the elderly man with leg injury don't have visas and I will have to fill the forms all over again and wait with him till he gets the visa! So, we start the process again and when he gets his visa, it is 4pm. I am growing inpatient by the second but this sick elderly man who has never traveled and relying on strangers to help is super patient and keeps looking up from his airport wheelchair every now and then with a patient and genuine smile! How the hell does he do it? I want to shout insult at the immigration officers for putting us thorough all these stupid screenings as if we are all criminals, fucking hell. But I breath in and out and keep going.

We had another VIP passenger today, the minister of defense and 5 of his entourage, am told. They sat in first class, of course, and they were always the first to board and to alight. They didn't have to deal with any of this mess, they practically walked thorough Nairobi immigration barely checked. How privileged to be zooming in and out of airports with ease and leaving behind elderly and women with children and never complaining to authorities about how flights from Somalia are overly screened. Not even a consideration to allow the sick, elderly and those with young kids to  go thorough first. Instead, the fit and healthy minister with his bulldozers go first.

The elderly man and myself are the last to leave and collect our bags and find his sons outside. Then I realise, in the rush, I had left my ipod and headphones in one of the screening points, shit. I rush back and ask airport security. They are kind enough to send someone and they said it was found but to go to the airline office outside to collect it. I find my taxi driver, who waited for 2 hours exactly! I feel bad for him, it is no one's fault but he could have made money all those hours he sat here. He kindly agreed to come with me to the office and when we followed by 3 of the ladies who were screening our bags. I was casually handed the headphones by a gentleman I recognised also from the screening point. Imagine a grown-arse man handing you headphones without the ipod when it was clear no one else had access to them, the cheeks! I asked what happened to the accompanying ipod. He proceeded to get rude and nasty and asked if I was accusing him of having stolen it! WTF man, I just want my ipod and to get to the guesthouse. At this point, I have no more energy to fight, I pick up my headphones and get into the taxi. Enough drama for one day.

Soon as we drive out of the parking lot and towards the city, I am greeted by giraffes grazing on the side road! How amazing is this? Typical African experience, you will be driven to a point of madness and then calmed by amazing creatures that you instantly forget any problems you have had. How many places in the world do you drive out of the airport to see giraffes on the road side? Apparently, they are part of the Nairobi national park wildlife that come to graze near the airport where it gets green during the rainy season.

It also hits me during the drive to the guesthouse that my period is a week late! Damn, if only I was aware of this, I would have paid more attention to my mood and reaction to things. PMS feels like this fish looks, goddamnit.


  1. Hehe...I wonder if the lady took ur advice- got laid and calmed the eff down. That's a nice thing u did for the old man. Pole for ur iPod... so PMS is real ehh!!!

  2. Lol, I hope she took the advice. The world doesn't need too many ppl with pent up energy. Yeah, shit happens and I got another iPod, lol. I know, I was in denial for ages but have finally accepted that PMS is no myth!