A Dusty street in Tog Wajaale Somaliland -Ethiopia Border

By Nouri Omer Abdullahi

The long flight aboard the comfortable and generous Ethiopian Airline was long and full of complementary food and drink. I land in Addis knowing that I have to be up very early in the morning, so I got to my hotel and took a nap, lost to the world for a few hours. I wake up somewhat refreshed. I went down to ask front desk for a place to go eat. Since I didn’t want to go far, the guy at the desk recommended a Restaurant next door so I walked over.

When I enter I notice the cowboy at the door with all the trimmings. Further in all the waiters are also dressed in cowboy gear, then I realize that I walked in to a Taxes style establishment.  I think to myself “here I am trying to get away from the US and what luck, I run smack dap in to a Texan nightmare”. Any ways I sit at a table and order a drink, take a look around and notice all around me sat couples gazing in each other’s eyes with a rose in each girls hand, with me the only person sitting alone on Valentine’s Day. The rest I will leave to your imagination.


I wake up the next day not feeling any better than the day before; decide to head to the Airport to continue my trip to Somaliland. I get on a much smaller Ethiopian Airline but luckily they served me a cup of tea and a small sandwich that would later save me from dying of hunger. We made a stopover in Diri-dawa ,a small town where we dropped some passengers off and also collected others, then on to my final destination Jig-jiga.


Things started to go downhill when we landed in Jig-jiga, from there I was supposed to find my way home to Hargeisa. I stepped off the plane expecting to see an Airport but what I see is an open space which is supposed to be an airstrip. A few miles down, there stood a small shack which all the passengers began to walk towards. The only logical thing to do then was follow. To make a long story short, I found out that my luggage did not make it on the plane with me after all. After a lot of yelling and screaming on my part, the only agent present for the airline promised me to have my stuff on the next plane from Addis, which sadly arrives in 2 days later.


Since I was nowhere near home, I was left with two choices, to stay in Jig-jiga, this dusty  little town for two days to collect my bags, or take a three hour bus ride to the border town of Tog-wajale that boarders Somaliland, where hopefully my family awaits. Knowing that I will have to make the trip back in a couple of days with the hopes that my belongings would arrive safely, I chose the latter. I head down to the town center with the help of two nice guys who were luckily still there waiting to see if I needed help, since everyone else was picked up by their awaiting cars, and I was deserted. When I got the bus station it was full of people pushing and shoving each other to get to me apparently, to offer me something or the other. I fought my way out for a while until I finally found the right bus. A after a  long commotion I get on this small bus; that was falling apart and appeared to have been  held together by tape.


This bus should seat three people on each row, naturally they fit five. So there I was squeezed in between four other people, their bags of rice, clothes and other unknown luggage. My knees were touching my chin and there is some kind of loose metal poking my backside, all of a sudden the bus lurches forward rattling and shaking and we finally get on the road. Then the bouncing starts, off my seat and back down again. There is someone kneeing my back and there is elbowing on both sides. After three long hours on the bus from hell, fatigue sets in, but was happy to realized I have reach the border between Hargeisa and Ethiopia.


We get off the bus and there was my only relief for the day, my family was there to welcome me. I stumble out of the bus with red dust all over me from my eye lashes to my aching feet. And then began the grueling visit to the Somaliland immigration and then to the Ethiopian customs where the guy in charge decides to hold a training session for the border police for two hours on how much American currency I should have on me while crossing the border. This happened while I sat there numb from exhaustion. At last it was over, but this process was repeated two times as I had to go back to that godforsaken place to collect my lost bags. After a month of rest in my mother’s beautiful house in Hargiesa, I am able to write about this experience without cringing at the thought. Also now I am a bit able to chuck this experience as my right of passage to Africa.




  1. I'm planning on a short visit to sweet home, Somaliland this summer but these sort of horror stories can pose a concern.

    • Don't worry Osman! Just go straight to City Plaza where you will get a ready burden camel to B/Calane. People are expecting you anyway.

    • You should not be concerned my friend, this was 6 years ago. There direct flights to Hargiesa now, from Ethiopia, Nairobi and such. You should make this trip it is worth it.

  2. Berbera, Burco and Hargeisa are on my short list of the great cities to visit in Somaliland. I'm going to take a rain-check when it comes to Afmadoow and unknown places.

  3. If you want no hassle and a trip so smooth then come straight to Hargeisa international airport. By the way Berbera /Hargeisa highway is nearing the end of a major renovation. I can grante you a major smooth ride with a scenery to match. So, Berbera or Hargeisa either one will be fine. Welcome home.

  4. This piece reminds an old Somali proverb which says : Hooyo wili ma aqal soomaaliggi ayaa ku jirtaan.

  5. never been home,so i have some things to look forward to when i visit at end of this year. Inssha allaah.

  6. You lie about Jigjiga airport. And I don't understand the purpose of the article, it sound like immature white teenage visit to Africa school weekly news post. But I am guessing your are adult somali western wanna be who came back whom after from refugee live of the west. Write something useful next time instead of criticizing ethiopia and other people. You wouldn't land addis and Jigjigs if you had something better to begging with.

  7. If you wanna go to Mogadishu simply go to istanbul airport Turkey in 6 hour flight to Mogadishu Aden Adde Airport.

    If you wanna go to Hargeisa go to Addis Ababa (Ethiopian) take a long bus to jigjiga (Ogadenia) then take a camel to Buuhoodle (Somalia) than a 7 hour walk to Hargeisa (Somalia)

    • what are you saying man? what is Isaaq wase?? what does it mean? if you have some thing to say then contribute positively..

  8. .Very sweet writer, I enjoyed the view of the writer. I like the elbowing, the tape holding the bus together. It is all fun to imagine the Indiana Jones. Please post the good articles, I lately stopped browsing Somalilandpress but you brought it to live again. By the way, I returned from Somaliland three months ago, flights to to Hargeisa directly from Addis Ababa. This article and the earlier ones brings the truth on the ground. The diasporas are returning home increasingly year after a year some settling for good. Your ethics should be the cutting edge to improve the flaws as we are displeased and tell the truth.

    • Thank you Ahmed for your comment, i think you get my story. I wrote it six years ago when i moved to Somaliland, where i still live to this day. i appreciate you seeing the story for what it is. Somaliland is a great place to visit or live.