The Life in Somalia You Never Knew Existed

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As a Facilities Manager at the United Nations Common Compound (UNCC), I work far from home and am now living in Garowe, Capital City of Puntland State, Somalia. So what is life in Somalia like?

I know the first thing that comes to mind when people hear about life in Somalia: Bombs, wars, and all those horrible atrocities that is shown on television. But you know what? There is also a peaceful side to spending your life in Somalia. I have had the pleasure of experiencing this first hand, and I would like to share this with you too.

 

People carry huge stacks of paper money around Somalia

People carry huge stacks of paper money around Somalia

 

Life in Somalia – fresh produce always

Garowe is mostly a dry area, sunny throughout the better part of the year. You get to experience some slight rain twice a year. Getting some fresh produce can often be a challenge – but, as a community, we get creative.

We have a garden where we grow coriander and some other herbs and plants, like lemon trees. Whoever feel like using can easily pick straight from the garden. You cannot get any fresher than this.

Life in Somalia is not as boring as you might have thought. You can get watermelon, mangoes (seasonal), tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, okra, pumpkin, spinach, and kale. Certain food items are scarce and have to be sourced from out of town. For example, cucumbers, oranges, grapes, avocados, eggplants, and others. But that did not stop me from being creative with my recipes – if anything, I get more creative!

Taking these photos of the market is not that easy. The locals are really weary of strangers going around taking pictures. In general, people living in Somalia can be a little photophobic. Thank goodness a friend of mine agreed help take some photographs of the local markets!

In the photos, you can see women selling fresh vegetables as money changers line the streets, amidst the heat and the dust. Living in Somalia, you get used to these things – in fact, they are what makes the country so special. It’s the hustle and bustle of the marketplace that counts!

 

A typical market scene in Somalia

A typical market scene in Somalia

 

Fruit stall in a busy marketplace

Fruit stall in a busy marketplace

 

Fresh watermelons, anyone?

Fresh watermelons, anyone?

Even the meat is at its freshest…

The meat we get is always slaughtered and delivered fresh. We always have to book a day in advance. The cow or goat is usually slaughtered very early in the morning – by lunch time, there is no more meat in the market.

Electricity is a bit expensive in Garowe. Most people prefer to sell all their meat rather than keep it in the fridge or freezer, because it can’t last more than a day due to the heat. Come to think of that, I get the chance to have really fresh and non-frozen meat at all times – quality meat at its best!

 

 

Life in Somalia is pretty good when you get to have fresh greens when you need them.

Life in Somalia is pretty good when you get to have fresh greens when you need them.

 

Fresh thyme right at your doorstep.

Fresh coriander right at your doorstep.

 

Fresh spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin seeds are used in Somali households so they are quite easy to find. I enjoy a cup of spiced tea everyday – it revitalises my body and keeps me relaxed. I always make sure that my stock of spices is sufficient, and whenever I get a visitor I almost always serve them a cup of Chai Masala.

My new life in Somalia, though far from home, I still find comfort. I know that I can still be able to get fresh food items that can be turned into magical meals. More fresh, even, gathered and delivered in our own unique way.