My time in Mogadishu is fast spent up. After all that healthy food, we hit a fast food joint for my last dinner here. We grab fries and meaty burgers with cheese and lettuce at Fresco Restaurant right along the street of our hotel. The bread is soft and tasty. I wash down my meal with a strawberry-flavored fruit drink called Shani, while Rashid and a friend take Miranda. Rashid tells us of a gelateria that is 150 metres or so down the road, and we take a bajaaj (tuktuk) for a two-minute ride there. The gelateria doesnt dissapoint with a wide range of flavors like peach, watermelon, orange, as well as strawberry, vanilla and yoghurt flavors. We slurp down the gelatos which are as good as they would have made them in Italy.
The following day is my departure date, and early morning, we get through a myriad of checkpoints to the airport. Some guards are friendly, but others are menacing and snap at us for identification. At the airport itself, we pass through other checkpoints on foot, and porters take our luggage, and pass it through screening.
My return ticket with East African Express is via Wajir before reaching Nairobi. When I go to their offices at the side of the airport, I find out that the flight has been canceled and I have to take it the next day. A Zimbabwean man chats me up there, and says that it is common for East African Airways to cancel their flights unceremoniously and without communication.
I am aghast and ask if arrangements have been made for their passengers.
“Did you book your ticket here?” he asks.
I respond, “Nope, I booked it from the Netherlands.” I have to get out of Mogadishu today, I add. A whole work week awaits, and a fresh hotel booking or a new ticket would be way beyond my budget.
I am further mortified when the Zimbabwean states that just a couple of days ago, he had to purchase a new ticket after his flight was canceled, and states that I may have to do the same. The ticketing officer arrives at the East African Airways offices, and assists the Zimbabwean. After he is assisted he asks him, ” How will you help this lady?”
The ticketing officer throws me a glance, asks for my passport and e-ticket, and asks me to follow him. In the other office, new flight details are recorded on the computer and my passport stamped.
“Get to departures as soon as possible, you will go to Nairobi with Jubba Airways,” he says. I get through airport screening and line up. One of my bags is taken in, then another screening and I can relax at the lounge.
I decide to have a late breakfast of camel meat samosa, a cold glass of lemonade and a slice of white forest cake.
My ticket is for 1 pm but it isn’t till 3pm that the flight arrives. Jubba Airways partners with Daallo Airlines and a separate line is formed for women and children to board first. Our flight takes off shortly and turns sharply as it ascends over the beautiful coastline. I have heard that the turning sharply after take-off is to avoid terrorist attacks from ground.
An hour or so later, we land in Wajir; a semi-arid town in North-Eastern Kenya, for security reasons. All our bags are removed from the plane manually and taken through screening. Depending on our nationalities, we form different lines and our passports are stamped. We wait for a couple of hours before boarding the plane for take-off to land in Nairobi.
I am in Kenya, but missing Mogadishu already. The city was good to me and far exceeded my expectations. I am happy I took the bold step to come.
Disclaimer: My trip was made possible by my hosts: Integration TV. My hotel stay was compliments of Hotel Makkah Al-Mukharama. I was given a big discount for the guards and driver. Guards ordinarily can cost anything between 250 to 1000 dollars per day depending on the arrangement you have with them.