Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Somalia and Somaliland

Africa-Somalia-Mogadishu  Not the most exciting of cards , but I had to buy this card in advance. My trip to Somalia was very interesting , at least even trying to get there. While in Djibouti , I had arranged to visit the Somalia Embassy . I met the second in command .  The building itself was not in the best shape and inside it could have done with a good clean. There were a few Somalis there , getting some paperwork. I stood out as not being African. So I was shown into a office . After the pleasantries, the officer was shocked to find out I wanted to visit Mogadishu as a tourist .!! He explained that I could not be minded as the government at that time had only control over the airport.  I had known that and wanted to stay in a hotel outside the airport building but still in government hands. It was out of the question.  It was agreed that I could visit the airport , but not stay and continue on to Hargesia in Somaliland. 

So on the plane journey from Djibouti city I met a Somali who used to work for Somali Airlines and did all the his training in Dublin. In fact in his case he took out a photo with a Aer Lingus Plane and his colleagues. He even knew where I lived. Amazing how small the world was . He said I could stay with him, but I explained it was not possible as I had no visa to leave the airport . When the plane touched down the african union peacekeepers arrived in tanks to make sure the airport was not shelled while the planes were on the ground. Two planes arrange to arrive at the same time while security is in place . The head of security came over to meet me off the plane and said I could only stay near the plane and could not even enter the airport building as it may not be safe and I could be kidnapped. It was all unreal. So I spend over 1 hour on the tarmac with security taking photos and chatting about life in Mogadishu. 

Somalia had no operating Postal service while I was there. In fact it has just started incoming mail in the last 6 months. I have been in touch with the officials in the Post office in Mogadishu and they plan to start a outgoing Postal Service before December 2014. So they will issue new stamps.  These stamps I had purchased from a dealer and are genuine Somalia stamps from the last time that country issued stamps. While waiting for my plane to reload , I asked to used the rest rooms in the Airport. So I was able to go into the building . Near the toilets there was a office of the Somalia Civil Aviation Authority . I went in and there I could see a rubber stamp , like you see here. So I stamped the postcard . So I know it is not official but the best I could do at the time. For my collection all my mail must have gone through the postal system. When the Postal service starts again , I will revisit , now that I have a Government official who will facilitate this. 

Africa-Somaliland-Hargeisa  This is the Northern part of Somalia and the old British Somalia and it is safe to visit. I spend two great days here . Good hotels and just like Djibouti sand sand sand and dust everywhere. Down town the Somalis were very friendly and very chatty. You have to pay $10 per day to have a policeman with you if you go outside Hargesia which I did to get my flight back from Berbera which is on the coast. 

Just like Somalia there is no Postal service here. I did manage to visit the Old Post office and took many photos . While taking photos , I did get stopped by the army as they could not understand why anyone would want photos of a old Post office. In fact it was great, as in the offices you can see a list of services including Philatelic . Also a British postbox outside, quite amazing. I went to DHL to try and send my postcard out, but because of restrictions only packages and including my postcard can only be sent to Kenya . So the best I could do was to stamp my postcard in the DHL office in Hargeisa . The stamp is a "cinderella " meaning not issued officially. The last Somalialand stamps were issued long time ago. I do wonder that if the postal services gets going in Somalia will it extend to Somaliand ? 

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