Yemen has been one of our most
memorable stops - Salim, a wonderful guide introduced us to his country, and
many friendly people collaborated to help us in a war-damaged country trying to recover
from civil strife.
||Yemen - The Country
North Yemen, a remnant of the Ottoman Empire after WWI
and South Yemen, a British colony until the late 1960's fought until
1990 - are now united and trying to create a viable country with
some success. We ducked into Aden after a nervous trip through a
piracy area just to top up on fuel - and we had one of the most enjoyable
stops of our trip so far.
Aden Harbor is one of the largest natural harbors in the
world, overlooked by an extinct volcano crater and a port with very little
traffic. To get to the yacht anchorage we had to weave between ship
mooring floats and other
yachts to our spot in front of the 'night club' - little did we know that the
loud, pounding music would play on 'til 3AM! The welcoming committee
consisted of 'Mohamed Ali', who handles laundry, and several drivers who
politely offered their services after we checked in with Customs and Immigration
- a painless process that resulted in a 'shore pass' good for Aden. We
selected Salim, a driver recommended by other cruisers and were very
happy with his services - including lunch at a local restaurant.
Salim took us on a tour of Aden and the vicinity and
introduced us to local food, local customs, and some tourist spots with few
visitors since Yemen is definitely NOT on most people's route
- They were everywhere on the streets going to and from school, mostly neat and
well-mannered - the very few beggars were reported to be Somali's, probably
illegal immigrants or refugees. There seems to be hope for the country
judging from the children.
Vendors - Like many of the countries in the Middle East, vendors sold
everything on the streets from veggies to electronics. All were friendly
and polite, offering their wares and hoping to pose in a picture, but not
pushy. This fellow was selling fragrant flower necklaces and many others
were selling Qat. Qat is the mild narcotic drug of Yemen, wadded up in a cheek
like chewing tobacco, and as the work day progresses the drug takes over.
Salim condemned it strongly, but men, older children, and even some women seemed
hooked by it.
Tech - Salim took us down a side street, with camels offered for rides, to a
small sesame oil factory. A small petrol engine swung a large arm with
what appeared to be a tree trunk that mashed sesame seeds - after a few hours of
this, the oil was poured off and the mash collected, probably for animal
feed. It reminded us of the
low-tech noodle factory in China.
Salim - Without his guidance and driving, it would not
have been the same. He treated us to lunch, dinner, and ice cream - and
never asked for payment! We paid him, of course, but he left us with a
warm feeling for his country.
Other details and pix from this fascinating stop in Yemen can
be seen on our April 2003 page - check it out! From
Yemen, we headed through Bab el Mandeb to the Red Sea!