02 April 2008

Aden, Yemen

Anchored Port of Aden

Our last morning in Aden, Yemen... we hope. We tried for a get away yesterday. But the water pump did not want to cooperate. So we will try again today.

This morning finds us busy preparing the 'Piper for an afternoon departure from the anchorage, along with S/V Shiraz and S/V My Chance (from Turkey). Tom and Steve are currently filling up fuel jugs. Then they are off to pick up, fingers crossed, our perfectly repaired water pump. Then we will pull the 'Piper up to the wall to fill up with water and wash the decks. And then finally we check out of Yemen with proper authorities and off we will go.

While Tom takes care of the 'blue' jobs, I'm here on the boat taking care of the 'pink' jobs. Because I thought we were leaving yesterday, I'm ahead of the game a bit. I have pressure cooked chicken all cubed up and ready for sandwich fixings, along with some very spicy salsa.

While underway we sleep up forward on the starboard bunk. So the bed is all made up, floors washed, head cleaned, dishes put away, salty snacks and candy strategically placed for easy access in case of an unpleasant passage. And my final job... write the Aden wrap-up.

Our time here in Aden has been a positive and pleasant experience. We have found the locals to be very friendly, most wishing us a warm "Welcome!" everywhere we go. After clearing in we wanted to do the usual drill that happens when in a new port. We find internet access, and some local restaurants and shops. To our surprise, when we were directed to 'the mall', it turned out to be a real mall, just like home with everything we needed.

In our short visit here we have made a trip to the mall everyday. The internet is good, along with grocery store Lu-Lu's. Most stores are shut down between noon and 4. But after 4, the mall is busy. And just like back home, you see teenagers hanging out and families out for the night. It is just a little different in that all the women are in burqas. Or as Tom calls them, the 'Hamburglar dress".

We did a three hour tour of Aden where we went to 'Old Town Aden' and bought lots of great fruit and veggies. Our guide was saying that not too many years ago cars didn't rule the streets like today. Instead they had camels with a two wheel cart that they would pull. We went to the camel queue, and just like a taxi queue, they patiently wait until hired out. They take just about anything they can fit on their cart around town.

They say that camels here are different than those in Oman. But I'm not enough of a camel expert yet to identify the difference.

Walking around this old part of town we felt like we were on parade. Everyone stares. And when our cameras came out, EVERYONE wanted their photo taken. "Hold up this dead baby shark and take your picture with me!" one man said. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

A few more things I need to mention before wrapping it up. A lot of folks back home always ask me "What do you wear while out around town?" "What do you eat and drink?" Since we are guests in a Muslim country, it is important for us to respect local traditional customs. I'm not walking around wearing a burqa. Instead, I wear long pants, or a long skirt, and usually a t-shirt style top with a long sleeves always at the ready. It is customary to expose as little flesh as possible. Tom usually sports long pants and a button down shirt.

Now as far as food goes, here it is all about the roasted chicken. It is the most popular dish here in Yemen. And I have read somewhere that we can look forward to seeing this dish on the menu the entire way up the Red Sea. My favorite items to go along with the chicken is pita bread with humus, and wonderful Greek salads. In other words, the food here is good. A meal typically runs about $5 a person.

To find alcohol in restaurants is not easy. We did get a recommendation for a Chinese restaurant that served alcohol. So we took advantage of this information and can say that both the food and cocktails were great. Alcohol is not very popular with the locals because many Muslims don't drink. However, I must mention 'The Sailor's Club' located directly across from us here in the anchorage. Not only do they serve alcohol, but they have bands that start at midnight and play until 4:30am. And, it is also a house of ill repute, which we just find fascinating since the ladies are always burqa'd out. We of course had to check this out. So we went in for a few beers. When we were told "No photos", you know something is sketchy there.

Our visit was short and sweet. Just enough time to check things out, and we were ready to go back to the boat. That is probably more than you ever wanted to know about our short visit here. So I will wrap it up. As I type away Tom is wedged in the cramped engine room installing our newly rebuilt water pump, once again.

We are officially checked out and will head out for our 100 mile trip around the corner of Yemen. Tomorrow morning we will be going through the 'Gates Of Sorrow'.

Hope everyone back home is well we are always thinking of you.

One Love,
Amy and Tom

Notes From Ron:
  • I think that Tom is thinking about Grimace, not "The Hamburglar", when he mentions burqas. The Hamburglar is a small red-headed man dressed as a burglar in black and white stripes. Grimace is a monotone purple...thing, something like a mutant Barney the Dinosaur crossed with a gumdrop.
  • Old Town Aden is called "Crater" and is built inside the crater of the collapsed volcano that makes Aden and it's natural harbor.
  • The Gates of Sorrow, actually known as "The Gate of Tears" in Arabic (Bab-el-Mandeb), is the narrow channel connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
  • I really couldn't find any photos of The Sailors Club. I guess they really do enforce their "No Cameras" rule.

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