Jan 172012

When I started planning this trip, my goal was to complete the trifecta of three years with New Years Eve in unusual places. After Iraq and Afghanistan, Somalia was the logical choice. No matter how much I played with the flight schedules, however, it just wasn’t going to work. So, I had to settle on Somalia being part of the trip and then building some fun stuff around it. That’s how we ended up in Bujumbura for New Years Eve.

Talking to a few friends and colleagues who had spent lots of time in Buj, it was quickly apparent there wasn’t too much to do. But, with just over 24 hours, we were going to make the most of it. We found a good driver online, hired him, and it turned out to be a great idea. Quite on the expensive side, but the amount of sightseeing we crammed into just over six hours was insanely impressive.

We got to our hotel quickly thanks to the hotel’s complimentary airport pick-up, the “Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika.” We got offered an upgrade to a “junior suite” for very little, and took it for the awesome view onto the beach plus the bigger room:

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Jan 082012

…but then again, I’m not right in the head. I was probably dropped as a child, or something similar, but something clearly isn’t quite right up there.

You might remember the last two years where I spent New Years Eve…yes, Iraq and then Iran/Afghanistan. I was taught in High School that things always seem to happen in threes…some sort of natural law thing. I had a good friend working in Djibouti, and that got my head to spinning…what’s perhaps the only place worse than Iraq and Afghanistan in the mind of most? Could I…I mean, Somalia is only about 20km from the capital of Djibouti!

Of course, when planning, that wouldn’t be enough. That would just be two new countries. I had to add more…and they couldn’t be boring. So, the final trip came out looking like a place of 8 years that normal people don’t spend new years:

1. Djibouti
2. Somalia
3. Ethiopia
4. Rwanda
5. Burundi
6. Kenya
7. Egypt
8. Yemen

Now, I admit normally a couple of these are a little tame. But Egypt’s been more than a little exciting lately, and Kenya is all a-twitter about Al Shabaab reprisals. So that made things a little more exciting. Things got more exciting when Yemen pulled my transit visa…boo hiss! Must find another way from Addis to Cairo. A normal person would have booked the direct flight even though it was at 3am. Nope, that wouldn’t do.

So Yemen was replaced with the world’s newest country: South Sudan!

Sit back, buckle up (well, unless you’re on the one of my flights that didn’t have seat belts, and prepare for a very very wild ride!