Monday, February 23, 2009

Aden, Yemen

Yemen is one of our most fascinating countries that we have visited so far. It is a Muslim country that has resisted the urge to conform to the west and they have preserved their culture strong in family values and religion and charity. The Yemenis made us feel very welcome. As we walked down the street, we were asked repeatedly: “Where are you from?” Our response was almost always followed by: “Welcome”.
People went out of their way to help us and wanted nothing in return. Many times we stood looking confused on a corner, looking at a map or trying to decipher a sign and people would ask us if we needed help.
One morning we stopped in front of a “restaurant” because the aroma emanating from the grill out front was amazing. There were 8 men there from the Yemen Coast Guard. They asked us to join them at their table and insisted on buying us breakfast. Most of them spoke no English but a couple spoke a few words. They told us the remainder of our trip along the Yemen coast is actually quite safe but they offered to have a Coast Guard ship escort us if we felt uncomfortable. We thanked them for their generous offer but declined.

All the women are covered from head to toe with burkas. Most of the burkas are solid black with occasionally some sparkles on the wrists. Some women even wear black gloves so that their hands are covered and some also have a veil over their eyes. Most young girls don’t start to wear burkas until puberty but this picture is of a girl maybe 8 years old. She was very poor and was selling hard boiled eggs in the street.

Yemen is all desert of mostly rock and rubble and sand in some places near the coast. There is constantly a coating of dirt on everything as the wind blows the rock dust and sand through the city streets. It gets in your eyes, and nose and teeth. Most the buildings are made out of the local rock and so are a lot of the streets so almost everything is shades of brown and beige. I found the lack of colour to be a little bit depressing at first but it is more than compensated for by the warmness of the Yemeni people.


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