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  • Lorna Ward

10 Facts of life on camp in Mogadishu

1.  You spend the first few days with a remote control in your hand, trying to find a happy medium between fridge-like conditions with the air con on and wandering around with documents stuck to your arm with it off.

2. Outsmarting flies becomes an Olympic sport.  Gold medal goes to the individual who manages to terminate one without the assistance of an industrial size can of ‘Taj’.

3.  Every morning the shower block almost transports you to a dreamed-of beach holiday as you wash the sand off your feet and flip flops and stand under a cold shower of salt water.

4.  Meetings and meals become rather more intimate than intended when you are suddenly plunged into darkness – and it always takes you by surprise –as the camp maintainers swap generators over.

5.  You look forward to Fridays like a child listens out for the tuneless jingle of the ice cream van.  You have no idea how he does it but that’s the day the cook magics pots of sweet vanilla ice cream out of nowhere for you after lunch.

6.  No matter how tired you are when you start your day, your spirits will immediately be lifted by traditional cheery ‘Hello sister!’ greeting as you emerge bleary-eyed from your bed.

7.  You spend interminable amounts of time swearing at keypads – in a country with two mobile phone networks that cannot speak to each other, you are not anybody unless you are juggling two phones, two sim cards and two numbers for everyone you’ve ever met, and trying to figure out which one to use on which.

8.  You go through the winter months forever hugging awnings and sidling up to any kind of cover, anticipating the flash torrential downpours that strike without warning for a monumentally drenching 2-3 minutes before giving way to scorching sun again.

9.  You try to find someone juicier than you to stand next to at dusk as the resident mosquitos make their way out for a spot of dinner.

10.  You have no time to miss your pet cat or dog back home.  Amongst the more familiar-looking stray canines, you have safari-like proportions of unusual feathered and furry beasts to enjoy – among them the Somalian slender mongoose.  I believe the leader of the pack lives under our office.

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