Uneasy in Mogadishu

Airport security use whips to keep order in the Mogadishu Airport, one barely grazing Amanda’s head. Amanda’s traveling with her ex-boyfriend, who left his job as a gardener in Glasgow to have some thrills. But on the flight to Mogadishu, he projects uneasiness. Amanda’s managed to snag an actual assignment this time, but the organization pays for hotel, transportation and food only, NOT security. Since she is not completely reckless, she’s arranged for a private security firm.

Once on the ground, it is immediately apparent that Amanda and Nigel are rank amateurs. They’re targeted almost immediately, this Canadian woman handing out $5 tips and this Australian man tagging along to take pictures he can hopefully sell.

They are met at the airport. Aside from the driver, there are two other men who pile into the car with them, all holding weapons. They take off for Mogadishu at high speed, at one point passing “a pickup truck with four lanky teen-age boys riding in the bed, their arms clamped over a mounted machine gun that pointed like a spear out the back.”

And yet: “The city was beautiful despite itself.”

Self is beginning to understand how Amanda Lindhout survived her experience. But Nigel? The jury’s still out on Nigel.

It turns out there is only one private security firm, and they’ve assigned their best people to escort a team from National Geographic. Amanda and Nigel are assigned the B Team. One guy quits before he even meets them. That leaves ONE inexperienced guy to provide security.

Amanda asks the National Geographic photographer (who is French) what places they’ve been, and he politely but firmly declines to tell her because “In Somalia, you can’t do the same thing twice. They will catch you.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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