Travel in Berbera, Somaliland
On the third day in Somalia, I was scheduled to fly to Berbera, a small town in the north of Somalia, which has 20 years of supervised self-proclaimed Somaliland. Everything here is reminiscent of home. In the 70's in Berbera was a Soviet naval base. Soviet military left in Berbera a quarter panel of the barracks, which is now called "Moscow".
up at 6 in the morning. My plane from Mogadishu airport should be 12, but the exact time of departure, nobody knows. On the ticket is written that check-in starts at 7 am. Before we reach the airport quickly. The airport building is protected as a military base. At the beginning of the first checkpoint, where soldiers make the decision to run you to the airport or not. If not, then you have to get out of the car and all the things to go a kilometer on foot along the dusty road. People like ants, dragging their suitcases on their heads to the secret building. My driver had a long argument with the military and we passed. Then a few more soldiers, almost all soldiers from Uganda. At the last cordon wrapped our car to the parking lot. The last 100 meters to go on foot. But first inspection and scanner suitcases. Looking ahead to say that prior to departure should be 3 times to pass control, 3 times to enlighten all the bags, remove the belt and put all the stuff their pockets.
Then a long line at the entrance to the airport building. More precisely, 2 line - men and women are separate. The queue is slow, people run in small groups of 5-7 people for inspection. It turns angry and nervous, turns really hot - it blows the hot air outside air conditioner unit.
Just before the entrance to check the tickets. I was not allowed to speak, you must obtain your boarding pass at the airline office. I go to the office and get another half hour boarding. Then again, all the input, search, check-in, passport control, inspection ... all it takes at least an hour. Hour in close quarters with hundreds of sweaty people, where there are air-conditioned, where there is bustle and chaos. Finally, the long awaited waiting room. - When my plane flight? - I ask the airline employee, - I do not know, Mr ... As soon as both at once. All the will of Allah.
Allah's will have to wait for 4 hours. During this time, I took a nap, watched a movie, slept again, drank 3 bottles of water and even have time to get bored of the motherland.
Suddenly, the people in the waiting room is undermined and line up. More precisely, in two stages. Somalia - a Muslim country with their harsh orders. Man and woman are not intersected in public, even if they are married. Queues are perfectly aligned, all standing in the back of his head. The reason for this order is simple - airport employees are beaten with sticks unruly passengers.
After two queues lined up, let people on the platform. First let women then men. All run for the plane and then again to stand in a queue. More precisely, in two stages. Seats on the plane are not numbered, so who first went, and took the good place. The first call women. Women occupy the first half of the dirty and old aircraft. Then the men go. At 13-05 hours. We take off. After takeoff, the plane takes sharply to the right, towards the sea, so that it was impossible to fire from the ground.
Before Berbera fly half hour. After 6 hours of torture at the airport, I'm trying to sleep, but it is impossible. Suddenly, my arm from the back seat pulled someone's dirty paw ... my neighbor got back to sleep, and he stretched out his legs. Well, that did not put on his shoulders.
We arrive in Berbera, get off the plane in an open field. There are no buildings, no other aircraft ... This is the airport, built by the Soviet Union in the early 70s. The airport is famous for the largest runway in Africa - 4140 m. After retiring in 1977, the Soviet military occupied the airport US. The band came under the control of the US military and to the collapse of Somalia in 1991 was in the reserve list of runways for US space shuttles. Passengers loaded into a minibus and driven to the airport terminal. On the way there were several "Zlotoust" IL-18 with an inscription. Shoot at airports can not be, so that the frame is small, neatly done on the phone.
Let's go to the airport terminal.
Here again the ideal stage, again, men and women are separate.
The Somali guards go in funny cap, like our Gopnik
Hall baggage claim.
In the street there are buses from occurring.
The city to go 10 minutes, the scenery outside the window dull ...
In Berbera many cats and fish.
The city itself appeared deserted and dull ... there's no nothing ...
In the streets of goats go.
In order to protect young trees from goats, it is necessary here to construct such barricades.
School. The bell rings and the kids are driving lessons with the help of a piece of cord.
in the lower grades are still learning together, just sit separately. The senior has separate training.
The main attraction of the local population - chewing cat.
It seems that in addition to the kata in the city do not sell anything.
The leaves of khat, if a long time to chew, easy cause inebriation.
Since there is no alcohol, it is necessary to chew the leaves.
On inspection of the city should be a maximum of 30 minutes. In Berbera do absolutely nothing.
My hotel - a dozen freestanding sheds on the outskirts of the Berbers. Inside the shed there is a separate toilet, hard bed with a mosquito net, and even a TV. Here's how to describe this hotel Mitya Aleshkovsky 2 years ago: "Mansour to the local level - a five-star hotel, then can not afford to stop only the richest somalilendtsy or Katov kings or ministers of the current government is located in a fenced territory somewhere in the 5 kilometers. from the town, along a country road on the right bank of the Gulf of Aden. The little houses, each with 4 bedrooms, each with two beds. WC, satellite TV, air conditioning and electricity, working only at night and the Chamber .. Th, that is to day the generator is off $ 60 per night for a single room by local standards -. Exorbitant amount. " All it is, is now only worth $ 150 room of
Surprisingly, there is even the Internet. It seems to me, on the ground a couple of years there will be places without the Internet.
Somalia worldwide associated with pirates. Most people can not even imagine where Somalia is, what is there the political situation, the weather or the economy. Nobody knows Somali scholars, singers and writers. But everyone knows the Somali pirates. Pirates came here 10 years ago. Because of the pollution of waters of the Gulf of Aden, started with a fish problem. Local fishermen, having lost a single income, began to plunder the polluters. Almost the entire population of Somali pirates support. Pirates - it local heroes. If you ask a Somali boy who he wants to be, almost certainly the answer will be "Pirates!" Pirates in the local representation - this is not the robbers. This brave soldiers who take White compensation for slaughtered sea. From 2008 to 2011, Somali pirates have received according to various estimates ranging from 450 to 650 million dollars ransom. Unfortunately, almost all of the money ended up in the pockets of local potentates - they buy weapons, expensive cars and luxurious mansions were built. In recent years, piracy here blindfolded. White learned to protect their ships from bandits and pirates have earned enough to lay low.
I wake up from the unbearable heat in a dusty barracks in a suburb of the Berbers. Dark outside at 5:30 am local time, in my room 35. The hotel turned off the electricity and air conditioning stopped giving invigorating coolness. I crawled into the street. After 30 minutes of waking up the chef and I order coffee, croissant and a fresh newspaper. In a newspaper fresh major news:
"In the center of Somalia's capital near the presidential palace bomb exploded, which was founded in the car, told the Reuters news agency, law enforcement officials and local residents. According to police, at least 10 people were killed in the blast. Presumably, the explosion was aimed at the destruction of high-ranking officials the state government. The agency reports that, despite the significant improvement in the security situation in Mogadishu since the Islamists overran the city associated with "Al-Qaeda" zryvy and killings still occur there often enough. " "At the time you have left Mogadishu," - says the waiter, - "Who would be stuck there Airport closed, the city is cordoned off, looking for the Islamists."
In the morning I go to the local military base. Do not give a shoot. While I was lead to the head, I photograph the secret weapon of the Somali military.
The head sits in a room in a huge leather chair at an empty table. Behind him stands two empty cabinet and hanging old map, where there is still the Soviet Union. On the table is the only book: "The military strategy in a democracy." I do not really understand the title of chief, but he is treated very respectfully. Let this be a general. His aides have asked me where I was.
- From Russia, - I answer.
- How do you do - I asked the general to the terrible Russian. Actually, I made out a miracle that phrase ...
- Well, how do you know Russian?
- Vo ELI elrvichil uaego in schtkola rousaei - understand what the general says it is almost impossible, the room still terrible acoustics and echo greatly complicates the task. But he refuses to speak in English.
We talked for about 20 minutes as I understand, he learned Russian in the Soviet Union, where he studied military affairs. He asked me what I want to do. I replied that I wanted to learn more about pirates and shoot Harbor. The general said that there are no problems, but he wants $ 50. I said I did not understand why I pay him. If he does not want to tell me about pirates, I'll just go and find another. General offense: "Russian have always been greedy From this, all your problems."
Another general. In the end, we agreed to $ 10. For ten I was given a soldier who ride with me on the boat.
The Somali men are now doing repairs in the barracks.
The soldiers. Pay attention to the shoes, it is all different. Soldiers give only his pants and shirt. Shoes they buy themselves. Therefore, someone walks in rubber slippers, and someone in funny socks.
It seems that the Somali military can only be well protected trees from the goats. See which strengthen erected so that no kid is not stolen up to a sapling.
I went to the local fishermen, to rent a boat.
Here on these boats the pirates are operating.
This is Mahmoud, my guard.
The fishermen tell me about pirates. Each left a pile of tales and legends. To distinguish truth from fiction is impossible. Someone's brother grabbed one huge ship, and then received a $ 5 million ransom. Someone grabbed one oil tanker and one allegedly in lieu of oil transported tons of heroin. In general, I write these stories you will not.
The boat sits a soldier for $ 10.
We are sailing somewhere.
- Where are we sailing? - I'm interested
- In the sea. You wanted to see how seize ships
- And we will seize the ship?
- Of course not! Just to show the place where the captured
- And what is this place?
- Nothing, just the sea
- Why do we go sailing?
- You wanted to see how seize the ships! - does not understand the soldiers, what I want from him
We decided not to swim far, and I have shown on the example of small fishing boats.
In the harbor there are old ships, as a monument to bygone victories.
Rode hour by boat, the fisherman asked $ 30 for gasoline.
In 1974, the Soviet Union and Somalia have entered into a full-blown treaty of friendship and cooperation for 20 years. We arrived in the country several thousand Soviet military advisers and specialists. The armed forces of Somalia began to receive Soviet weapons and military equipment. In return, the Soviet Union has at its disposal a number of strategic facilities in Somalia. In Berbera built an entire city block, which is still called "Moscow". 40 years ago, there lived a family of the Soviet military. Today - this is the coolest and most prestigious area of the city. This is the best house. Everything else - sheds of rags and twigs. This picture I took today.
This shot took Mitya Aleshkovsky in 2010. As you can see, nothing has changed in 3 years. Only the right fence completed. Stability.
November 13, 1977 President of Somalia announced the denunciation of the treaty with the Soviet Union. "And that's what struck me - how quickly one can become an enemy, - she recalled one Soviet diplomat. - In the morning we are greeted with Somali colleagues, smiling at each other. In the evening, we were enemies. For Moscow, lulled by tales of unbreakable friendship, it was an unpleasant surprise. And for us - a nightmare. In homes where Soviet families lived, cut off electricity and water. Enraged crowds flocked around, shouting threats and insults hurled stones. Difficulties began with meals - in Soviet stores do not sell. I managed to shoot a few wild pigs whose meat is considered inedible in Somalia. " All Soviet citizens had to leave the country within a week. Soviet property in Somalia was again confiscated.
"Our group began to cross the airport, which was a trap there above us just humiliated Behind us were sent special flights -.. Passenger" ILs "who were experienced military pilots in civilian clothes when at night the planes were landing on runways completely. cut down the electricity. Only a miracle and skill of our pilots rescued from disasters.
"The queue for customs inspection has become infinitely long. Women and children were sleeping on the floor, they began to ache. A customs slowly, day and night, one after another, gutted suitcases and bags. Were selected almost everything, including the well-worn children's little things. Shakes customs suitcase and simply robs . he laughs and puts vending him things, says. "it's - my 'turn came to one of our specialist When the customs officer started a mockery of his family, scattered along the floor children's clothes, he burly man, hit him as it should. uet. And then all of us, unarmed, armed with full bottles of "Pepsi-Cola" and stood up the wall, ready to fight. Those realized that any mess with the shooting of unarmed end badly for them. chickened out. There is just and our marines arrived. The case immediately went faster. I flew last on the AN-12, I am not at all to inspect customs. well, when we arrived home, we had to sign a non-disclosure ... "
By the way, the desire to punch someone properly, does not leave me for the fifth day. Unfortunately, there is no our amphibious force, and in general I'm a tourist. So it is necessary to endure.
In Somalia, the Russian left home point at the port of Berbera, a purpose-built communication center, tracking station, storage for tactical missiles, a large fuel storage premises and a half thousand people, an airport and a lot of weapons.
That is, as described by Berbera Soviet squadron leader of Rudolf Vote 40 years ago. "Berbera - a small town, no attractions, except the most wretched suburbs, nicknamed the sailors" Cheryomushki "According to the stories, the local authorities had been brought here of the city and its surroundings all the miserable housing -.!. hut of the boxes, pieces of iron, cardboard and rags Stunning poverty, "bottom" Contrasts XX century population, in the bulk, poor morning at the gates of the port there is a crowd of exhausted men, barefoot, in long robes per to get at least some work. At night, some here and spend the night on the ground, wrapped in their robes, in a sleeping bag. "
In 40 years nothing has changed.
This is the best house Berber. Best, because a Soviet. Inside, of course, is nothing other than the concrete bag. There is no sewage system, no water, no furniture. Nothing. Just a concrete bag of rags.
But the people are sincere.
Prosperous Somali, he has a car! See what he has built a garage near the entrance.
And in Somalia, no furniture. That's all there is. Maximum - it's such improvised seat. In the houses of all sleep and eat on the floor. Eat, by the way, by hand. Smalyvayut food and fill up a ball in her mouth.
The Somali cemetery.
Camels here, by the way, taste good.
Near the city is the source that supplies the Berbera water.
In the evening went to sea ... the water was unpleasantly warm. In the evening, I call the airline to check the departure time of my flight to Djibouti. The airlines say, "Sorry, sir, but we canceled the flight because they could not sell all the tickets next flight will be the day after tomorrow, but in it we just were able to sell all the tickets in all, your ticket canceled, good luck to you, yes.. God bless you. "