R&R Mogadishu

Thank you, Sammy

I have Sammy Pollock to thank for cluing me in about Muslims. Sammy was one of Viking Helicopter’s Ottawa engineers, an old Africa hand who had spent many years on the continent. After he heard that I was heading to the Dark Continent, he pulled me aside and made me memorize a phrase [1] that stood me in good stead throughout my stay. I will be forever grateful to Sammy for doing that for me.

We love you good time

While in Mogadishu I always tried to stay at the Hotel Juba. It was pretty classy for its time, and the best place in town in 1975. The older hotels and their lobbies – both inside and out – were filled with khat-chewing layabouts, and at the time I wouldn’t have given a nickel for a room in any of them. Although, there was this one time…

Overlooking the grounds of the Hotel Juba with pool and patio. Not so bad in 1975 after coming into town for a little R&R.

Overlooking the grounds of the Hotel Juba with pool and patio. Not so bad in 1975 after coming into town for a little R&R. The pool was empty because of the prolonged drought at the time.

Jean-Marc and I ended up in Mog looking for a little relaxation. We took up residence on the bar stools of this one noisy den of iniquity because it appeared to have the best-looking women – but then, that was all relative to how drunk we became. The bars served liquor to westerners, but it was forbidden for anyone else. Of course, we both ended up shitfaced, and the Muslim bar-girls, who were drinking “coka” (Coca-Cola), were stone cold sober. All the time.

After turning down several of the uglier girls (which, given the nature of the beast, was pretty hard to tell in the dark bar) we settled on a couple of beauties who managed to speak better inglese than the others. In blackest night we ended up escorting our two favourite b-girls to their – how shall I say this – home adventure palace. After duly forking over the required shillings, we ended up in side-by-side rooms. Needless to say, the walls at best were paper thin, and each of us could hear what the other was saying, and doing.

After a suitable interlude, I could hear a man laughing, and then this girl’s voice saying, “Mama-mia, I don’t suck. I’m Muslim!”

Well damned if I didn’t almost fall out of bed laughing my ass off.

I’ve often wished Marc was still with us so that I could tell that story and get his reaction one more time. Unfortunately, he departed this earth a number of years later while flying in British Columbia.

Ed meets the Canadian Ambassador to Kenya in Mog

One of the incidents I had completely forgotten about occurred in Mog while we were all on an R&R. Some of the boys had gotten off of the beaten path one night and ended up wandering around Mog on foot in a bit of a fog early in the a.m.

Ed Pucci had this Team Canada hockey jersey that he wore on special occasions. That morning, the Canadian Ambassador to Kenya happened to be on tour in his limo. When he recognized the jersey, he had his driver pull over to the side of the road and accosted Ed and the boys and had them regale him with their tale of why they were in-country.

Small world.

Sadly, Ed Pucci and his sense of humour is no longer with us.

The benefits of clan warfare

Here’s the Hotel Juba today, from a satellite shot. Everything showing in the picture above is gone, except for the main building. If you zoom out, at the bottom of the shot even the residences across the street (see photo, above) have been destroyed. It’s such a shame. What a great way to advertise the benefits of clan warfare and Muslim extremism. As if the country wasn’t poor enough, now it’s completely broke, and broken, and I doubt that it will ever return to be even a shadow of its former self.

The benefits of clan warfare? None.

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Recent satellite view of the Hotel Juba grounds

The Hotel Juba today, wracked by gunfire and RPG attacks. The only rooms available are out front under tents.

The Hotel Juba today, wracked by gunfire and RPG attacks. The only rooms available are out front under tents.

[1] Right, Sammy’s phrase.

Salam ala’am alaikum, salam alaikum salam.

It worked every time I needed it to get my drunk ass out of a jam while I was wandering around a dark alley looking for my hotel – and believe me, I ended up in some very dark alleys. Whether it was a citizen; a police officer; a woman; every time I greeted a Muslim with that phrase, they took me wherever I needed to be, safely and securely. Thanks again, Sammy.

I wonder if that phrase would work today. Back to top

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