Date: 10th March 2013-04-13
Waypoint 109 N 10⁰ 27.975′ E 45⁰ 01.944′ Police station Berbera
Waypoint 110 N 10⁰ 27.743′ E 45⁰ 01.940′ Maan-soor Hotel Berbera
Chris enjoys the cool breeze under the shade Maan-soor Hotel Berbera
Chris with the Mayor of Berbera amazingly everybody is trying to help us to find a boat from Somaliland.
Chris still explaining our trip to the interested Berbera Council.
More Berbera officials. Abdirashid Mohamed Haji Yusuf …on the right the Public affair Chairman Berbera City Council. 31 years old and eight children…yikes that’s going.
Somaliland TV come to interview us and our thoughts on Somaliland people and travel.
More Berbera people come to visit Victor and crew at the Maan-soor hotel grounds.
Victor and Crews first view of the quay at Berbera Port.
Victor wheels his for the last few metres on the African Continent…..Vaisal to the left.
The 2 most important men for any Overlanded leaving the Port of Berbera Somaliland.
Vaisal Mohomed Ali on the left. Email sadaqad@hotmail .com
Mr Omer Abokor Jama (Dept General Manager) on the right
Omer a wonderful helpful General manager the Port of Berbera in his very cool air con office.
Immigration Office Berbera
The shipping agent which did work in Berbera thanks to Vaisal Mohomed Ali.
Victor making his finally journey to the Port of Berbera around 5.00pn 13th March 2013.
Linda our Aussie friends we catch up with on our last day in Berbera Somaliland….thanks guys for all your moral support.
It’s cool, the breeze blowing on-shore the sea blue and flat the beach empty.
The Maan-Soors Hotel grounds is a great resting place sitting and looking out to sea and sand trying to relax, trying to work out what we can do, but I could see the strain in Elayne’s eyes and she mine. Making sensible conversation with our new friends was hard enough, these three guys were having fun and we were the talk of town. I was hoping there shipping agent will come through with a ship or something my mind constantly trying to understand what went on back at the shipping agents office….was there a possibility…my mind racing ahead, would we even be able to enter the Port.
They are still chewing Khat it’s a constant process grazing on these shiny green leaves. The big Somaliland guy called the ‘’Mexican’’ stripping off those shiny green leaves from the stems handing across the pruned bunch of leaves to his friends, topping up the already full mouths. They spit out the green mushy juice like venomous Cobras.
We wait anxiously my strained face still provoking a reply from our northern English accent Somaliland person who’s name is Hussein ……relax you are with good people……I nod my head and thank them for their help…..its ok we understand we are with good people we are just a bit tired…..I reply.
The young man Hussein is around 30 and lives in England but has returned to search out new found opportunity with the northern part of Somalia ‘’Somaliland’’ becoming more stable relative to it’s southern part.
Plenty of opportunities he explains to me, we are buyers of any building materials …anything we buy and sell, Camels, Donkeys, Khat…hahahah….anything he exclaims…..I join in with is laughter.
Its difficult for me to explain our feelings to our new friends, we are tired and beaten up yet again,19,000 klms from France we have pushed hard to get here in just two and a half months, the constant crowds around the car just becomes so repetitive we have little anonymity. Police, Army all want their pictures taken next to the strange car the theme, the questions the same the world over, over and over again…..that’s if we do understand the questions, but for our new friends we are a novelty it’s wonderful for them to be the centre of attraction people constantly asking them ‘’Who are these people ‘’…they ask ….where do they come from?….where are they going?….at least we are free from trying to explain.
The big guy out of the 3 is called ‘’The Mexican’’ he is a nice guy and makes a phone call to the shipping agent back in town it’s near 4.00pm I don’t want to know the answer Elayne looking over not saying anything but I understand her every thought.
The other conversation stops and the Mexican stands and walks a few metres away our other Somaliland friends put their thumbs up….It looks as if you are going to-night on a Dhow filled with Cows……Crickey you could have knocked me down with a feather. My mind begins to go into melt down ….to-night I exclaim…yes they reply to-night.
They load the Cows at night to keep them cool, they get less stressed and are calmer…. the others explain.
Let’s go to the shipping office the big guy “The Mexican’’ smiling you go to-night. It’s a bumpy drive back to town but we arrive around 4.50pm outside the shipping agents office. Even more locals gather around the small street is now impassable; throngs of children stand close to Victor running their hands over all Victor’s badges, around and around they go.
What are we going on Elayne exclaims, as I find a spot free from inquisitive children and sit on our fuel tank next to Elayne….how much is it going to cost, Elayne’s question are endless and I have no answers. It’s difficult to understand what is happening; the shipping agents English is difficult to understand and I don’t think you can get much sense out of all the chewing.
Time is ticking on it is getting darker; eventually it looks as if our departure to-night is off.
Our three Somaliland friends are not happy especially the Big Mexican….I don’t trust this man anymore (the shipping agent) he tells me we…you….can leave to-night . ….but he is not telling the truth. They do genuinely look disappointed as we return back to the Maan-soors Hotel just a dark.
They try to get the manager to allow us to camp inside …but again the fail to make him change his mind. It’s been a long day and we are dead on our feet our only safe option was to camp alongside the small Police station near the hotel. They arrange this for us and leave, telling us they will come and get us tomorrow.
Elayne and I set up camp outside the small police station; little did we know what a sleepless night we were going to have. The evening dew settles over us as we erect our tent in the darkness, it is always the same as soon as we erect our tent we are told by the police guarding the hotel to get closer to the fenced wall around the police station . We move again ……We are not keen on our new position directed by the police as we are next to the entrance to the police house.
Up we finally go….what’s that….I exclaim…. just as I put my head down on the pillow…..A huge light has now just been switched on directly above us, it is so bright we can read inside the tent………..As if this was not bad enough, but it gets worse…….constantly through the night we had Police changing shifts arriving from different locations, calling to check for more assignments, arriving, all gathering outside our entrance to our tent, phones ringing, smoking, prodding and kicking Victor. Flashes from the mobile phone cameras, and the conversations well go on and on my being kept awake with Elayne inevitable picking out ‘’Australians’’ in their Arabic conversation…..all night to the early hours…..and then it began again, with the morning shift change.
What a crappy night …we are not camping here again, we were stuffed worn out before we even started our new day trying to explore the possibility of eventually leaving this Continent from the Port of Berbera.
It is warmer and our friendly cool on-shore sea breeze has not arrived. We sit inside the Maan-Soor Hotel grounds again on our plastic chair pondering our future, it’s 9.00am, but we decided to head into town ourselves to try and work out something.
Berbera was a small town and our gps was already covered in tracks we had made, but to our amazement we stumble across our ragged bunch of Ghat chewing friends. It is clear we need to get our phone operational and that is where we meet Vaisal, who immediately helped us with our phone eventually making it operational. Our other 3 wild friends who had tried to help us arrived at the mobile phone provider it’s a small town everybody knows where we are going before we do!!!!…..but all were trying to help.
Immigration will need to be informed where trying to leave Somaliland, so over we go to there office with our 3 Ghat chewing friends who showed us the way but will meet us later.
We waved goodbye to our 3 friends and entered the Immigration office which was currently under some new renovations only to find them asleep.
I am invited in to explain our situation while they get dressed, but we are told by the Berbera Immigration we will need the permission of the Govern to leave Somaliland……YIKES…this is something new.
Immigration tells us to follow them, as the Govern is in town for the morning and is meeting the Town Councillors at the Council office.
It was a very strange experience to find me being ushered into a Governs meeting with the local authorities. We sat and waited to have our meeting with the Govern. But our predicament being an important part of the day’s business agenda my case pushed to the front of the queue while the meeting was in process. 30 men where all taking part in this meeting with the Govern and local mayor discussing the towns business. The room was small people pushing and talking loudly but as my case was about to be heard the loud conversations fell silent, and I was asked to put my case forward. I introduced myself and shook the Governs hand.
I went on to explain how we would like more Overland Travellers to visit Somaliland with the further possibility for Overlanders to be able to sail from the Port of Berbera instead of sailing from Djibouti as most Overlanders like us do, a few more explanations and the Govern consulted his learned friends and a few minutes later we had our approval, shook my hand and we are able to leave Somaliland.
Back following the Immegration officials we arrive at their pretty disorganized office. They wanted to stamp our passports but I declined their offer opting to wait until we had a boat leaving for sure.
Vaisal our photographic friend (Somaliland wildlife) who had helped us with our phone is waiting outside we are told we can enter the port so we could follow him which we do. Little do we know the Port deputy is his friend and we meet him on the way to the port. Vaisal gets out of his car and explains our situation with the deputy Port Harbour master who immediately comes over to meet us and shake our hands ….No problems…no problems…he explains to us…..I will find a boat for you, and asks us to follow him into the Port. What a change of attitude we now find as we enter the Port gates and those machine gun welding Ghat chewing soldiers are clearly being told to let us through into the Port of Berbera.
WOW…we are in and things are looking up at last we have meet the right people the key to get things working in Africa.
We pass small and large ships Dhows, and cargo of every kind being unloaded and loaded. We stop near an Indian Dhow and we get out to take a closer look.
Our Deputy General Manager Mr.Omer Abokor Jama is clearly in control as the Port Manager Ho Ho Ali is visiting Hargeisa for the day.
We are invited into Omer’s office and the heat of the morning now disappears under the chilling air-conditioning sipping ice cold water.
Vaisal is clearly helping us with his very good English and diplomatic manners, assuring us all is working well and Mr Omer will help us find a boat. Elayne is out in the car so I asked to be excused from the office for a while taking a cold bottle of water with me. I find Elayne surrounded by interested people but to my amazement Elayne already has a full plastic bag of cold drinks being brought to her by the Port authority. I keep Elayne informed things are looking up and we may even be going tonight…..Elayne…replies great…..but not on a Dhow …please Chris …not on a Dhow.
I return to the Office of Mr Omer and enjoy the freezing air-con while a few photo sessions take place. Vaisal now tells me we will be going to a Dhow to tell the Indian captain to take us….Yikes I thought just what Elayne wants!
We all leave the office including Mr Omer and we are told to follow him to one of the ships moored alongside the Port. We eventually pull alongside a beautifully painted Indian Dhow being unloaded of its cargo of rice.
We scramble aboard after climbing a large wooden ladder standing almost vertically, I am dripping with sweat like Mr Omer and Vaisal. I meet the Indian Captain called Osman who is not happy, as I quickly find out he is being forced to take us by the harbour authorities.
The Captain tells me his Dhow cannot take our car on deck it is not safe…to unstable he explains to me. The others carry on telling the Captain Osman that nothing will happen and you must take these people, even the President of Somaliland has ordered him to take us, and if he does not he will never be allowed back into this Port………YIKES I thought poor guy ……Captain Osman tries to explain he is not sure he can provide any safety as there is still a threat of Somalia pirates for us on his dhow, what will he do if they are attacked….YIKIES ….another bomb shell Elayne would love to hear about as I look down below Elayne looking back.
Omer and Vaisal are not having any of Captain Osman’s excuses about Somali Pirates or anything else and is clearly told he will take us to Salalah Oman with his Cargo of 450 Somaliland Cows. I leave the heated conversation making my own assessment of the huge Dhow and take a look around the Dhow, it is of huge dimensions the timbers almost like carved tree trunks some 40mtrs long I guess and 15mtrs wide and cavernous inside. I am sure our 1.2 tonnes will have little effect of any stability the Dhow not even moving as another sling of bags of rice leave the ship.
I return to the protesting Captain Osman but alas he is being told in no uncertain terms we will be on his Dhow tonight before he loads his 450 Cows…..Oh dear I know who is going to be real pleased with this……Elayne is looking up shaking her head as I wave from the deck above and put my fingers up indicating our susses in securing a boat.
I shake the Indian Captains hand and I apologies for the inconveniency we have caused him, he shakes my hand and smiles it is not your fault he replies…shaking his head in the way only Indians can do …you know that side to side head movement which neither explains a yes or no.
Omer and Vaisal scramble back over the Starboard Gunwales down the vertical wooden ladder back onto the quay.
It is truly a massive wooden structure and I am feeling over the moon we are sailing to Oman not Dubai direct allowing us to visit another Gulf Country with this passage. It was also clear we had proved that mixed cargos are allowed to sail on a Dhow from Berbera another first maybe but one I am now looking forward to.
Omer tells us that we should return to Maan-soor hotel as nothing will happen until after 6.00pm tonight and we should return back to the port around 5.30pm.
We shake their hands and thank them profusely for Omer and Vaisal help without them nothing would have ever happened.
Victor and crew follow Vaisal back through the security check points 4 in total all being informed to allow us back in around 5.30pm tonight.
Elayne is not as happy as me the Dhow really making a challenge for any woman on board with 13 other men and 450 Cows and several goats and 5 days at sea.
Some shaky night pic of Victor being loaded from the quay by crane with his new friends 450 Somaliland cows.
Nearly ready for a trail lift.
Its 9.00 pm
Victor is air-borne heading for the Dhows decks……..yikes it was a scary moment.
Victor high above the ground we are very, very anxious it will all go well.
Nearly there…..not quite.
Victor touches down on a small Haystack his resting place for the next 5 days at sea.
Jurgen our Aussie Overland friend helps Victor touch down on his Haystack…..Thanks for the large jar of Vegemite….lol
Victor and Crew settle for leaving the Port of Berbera around 12.00pm 13/3/2013.
The pressure has gone I feel as if I am on cloud nine just taking in for the first time we have managed to find the way off this Continent maybe the first attempt for any Overlander to take a Vehicle on a Dhow to Salalah Oman….how true these words will be in the future.
We return to the cool breeze of Maan-soor and sit beneath the shade once again. It has been 4 days sitting trying to find the right contacts and we finally nailed it.
It is the first time for me to feel free of this burden and some thing is happening in what looked like a world of nothing ever happening ever…….but it did.