Stranger in Somalia | Ryan R. Nolan

The “English” of the attendant at the information desk was neither attending nor informative. “Yes your bag arrive.” “No I don’t have.” “Security X-ray machine not pass.” “Manager help soon.” She never looked up but only flitted her hand towards an over-crowded waiting room, patrolled by under-dressed security guards armed with exceptionally-intimidating machine guns. “Special area to wait manager,” she called it, and “Christian,” she called me.

Filthy travellers filled every chair, so I sat on the dirty floor. Tiny rocks gouged into my back, the air reeked of mildewed shit, and my ears burned from whispered babble, likely “look at the white boy” jokes in a glottally-constricted or clicky-pitched language that was a million miles removed from even McDonald’s and Starbucks. I smiled. Rule #27 of the missionary handbook: blend in with the indigenous population.

“How much time. Have you. Been waiting?” I asked one of the “clickys” while pointing at my watch, then him, and then his chair. Without a word, he got up and moved to the other side of the room. Didn’t even look at me. None of the travelers looked at me. Only the guards looked at me. I took the seat and just as my back started to enjoy it—

“Christian!” I whipped my head around towards a new guard brandishing a scarier machine gun and a fancier army uniform. “I’m the manager,” he barked. “Come with me. Now.”

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