All posts tagged: Hargeisa

on starting over, again

It’s 3:00 a.m. in Hargeisa, and I’m caught between a (literal) nightmare that woke me, and suhoor, the pre-dawn meal before Ramadan fasting begins, which makes it useless to go back to sleep now. So, let’s do this… I’ve long been a fan of the start-over, the blank page which holds promise, tabula rasa. I made “art” prolifically as a child, but one errant mark of the crayon gave way to a whole new creation, the first (second, fifth, twelfth)  “failed” version tossed aside. Even today, my amateur paintings are often four or five layers deep, whitewashed multiple times in dissatisfaction, a more economical alternative to swapping in a fresh canvas. I never had much patience with fixing, or saving a sinking ship, which always seems to get me in trouble. When I do stick it out, it’s with a “new leaf” mindset: This isn’t what it was before, it’s something different. That’s how I’ve always found the energy to dig in to relationships, jobs, creative projects, etc. Ironic, then, that in my newest endeavor I …

what’s to eat #46

I’ve lived in Hargeisa for nearly three years, and learned a lot through trial and error and… more error. I can get around pretty well on my own, including at the market, diving in, finding what I need, negotiating a bit, and jumping back out.  But there’s one section of the market I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around: Grain Alley. (This is a totally fabricated name that I established to reflect how intimidated I am by this place. It works, yes?). Grain Alley is lined on either side with giant sacks of legumes, cereals, and other dried goods. Vendors, all women dressed in colorful jilbab or wrapped in patterned scarves, sit perched atop their mountainous spreads , each sack not much farther than arms length… So, I’m reaching out, friends. Anybody out there a cereals/grains aficionado? Anyone cook regularly with these? What am I working with here? 

mid-week link love

Last stretch of 2017, friends! Sliding right on into the new year with a few fun links. I’ll be on an airplane shortly, hopefully coming out the other side in Tokyo, assuming all goes according to plan. If you’ve got any recommendations, let’s hear ’em! Freakebana, the “turnt cousin” of ikebana, ancient Japanese art of flower arranging. I dig it. (Above photo from NYMag IG. More at Freakebana.life IG) Disequlibrium is the uncomfortable secret to creative success. (Quartz) Consider also that swearing can “fuel intimacy and bonding” among co-workers: [T]he development that intrigues me most, and that Byrne discusses in colorful detail in her book, is a series of studies showing how swearing can fuel intimacy and bonding — and make you more likable. Byrne, who works by day in a male-dominated tech job, says that for her, swearing is a “necessary rite of passage” when she joins a new company. And she’s not alone. “From the factory floor to the operating theatre, scientists have shown that teams who share a vulgar lexicon tend to work …

on the dots that connect

One of my closest friends talks to me about “upward spirals” of life lessons: Our baggage is ours, our faults and failings won’t leave us, and they come around again with cyclical persistence. But we face each approach differently, with a higher level of understanding. Each time, it’s a newer, better, stronger us that takes on those tired challenges. This is how you manage to accept the stuff that haunts you: it’s never the same you, even if it’s the same stuff.

Are you familiar with fernweh? A German friend mentioned it to me the other night over pizza. It’s all the nostalgia and longing of homesickness, but not for home–for somewhere far away. In the dry, dusty capital city of Bamako, at the edge of the vast Sahara desert, I cried over stunning loss and dreamed of the lush greenery of Ireland. In fact, I longed for it, I felt fernweh for Ireland, though I’d never been. In my gut it was a place I had to see, a place of my ancestry, and an antidote to the sand pit (literal and figurative) in which I found myself. Years later, after I’d moved on to work in the Horn of Africa, the Addis Ababa to Washington D.C. flight route was rearranged to include a fueling stop in Dublin. Embracing serendipity, I extended my layover on the Emerald Isle, my first trip as a solo traveler. It was, indeed, the tonic I’d sought, albeit delayed…

mid-week link love

Glad tidings, glad tidings! (I always wanted to say that). Hope your week is running smoothly, and the final stretch of September is well-spent. Below are a few links I’ve been lovin’ and some photos from around town, including Ambassador Hotel and La Afrah Tea House, where a friend clued me in to the most intensely delightful date syrup, served up with proper French toast. WHO NEEDS MAPLE SYRUP ANYWAY.

on winter in the Horn

‘Tis the season here in Somaliland: winter winds, chilly temperatures, and thick layers of morning fog all around. It’s enough to keep you in bed much later than you intended. Truth be told, I’ve been waiting for this moment; last winter surprised and delighted me, cold weather devotee that I am. I hadn’t imagined I would wrap up in sweaters or pull on socks in this relatively arid climate – camels, cacti and wool hats seemed like unlikely pairings. But here we are again, and I’m doing my best to take full advantage. Thanks to later dawns and earlier sunsets, I snuggle in bed as long as I can. Breakfast under cover (quite literally) has become a beloved ritual. When I manage to peel myself off the mattress, a polite but impatient (canine) spirit awaits me, ready to charge the clouds of fog and greet the day. (Don’t let her fool you, though–given the right bedding she’s as lazy as they come). Winter morning walks in our neighborhood are truly stunning, once you shake off the …