It took over 21 days for us to cross the Indian Ocean from the Maldives to Yemen. The winds were light and the days long. At the Gulf of Aden, we met up with four other cruising boats, Ohana Kai, Luna, De Pelikaan & Fafner, to form a convoy past the pirate ridden area of Somalia.
The last Muslim country we visited, the Maldives is vastly different than Yemen. Comparing their capital cities, Male to Aden is like comparing a castle to a tool shed.
Yemen’s the civil war of 1994 seems to have left the city and economy deflated. The poor are everywhere. Beggars take full advantage of “karat”, the Muslim obligatory charity which many of the recipients are Somalia’s destitute seeking refuge in Yemen. Buildings are in major neglect and automobiles appear beaten down. The women are completely covered from head to toe, only exposing their eyes; the men wear traditional head scarves and skirt wraps while some are in western clothes.
However, people seem a bit friendlier here. They are not a nation overrun with tourism so as my husband and I were walking down city streets, looking for fresh produce, many times we were approached and asked our nationality. Some times our questioner would belt out,” English or German”, but a look of surprise usually followed our answer of “American”, and on more than one occasion, a local would say, “Welcome to Aden.”
These three young ladies came up to Lisa and I as were shopping. They welcomed us to Aden and told us they were college students. This was good to hear because we hardly saw women working in Aden. Women have few rights and fathers are allowed to marry girls off at the age of 6.
Visiting the tea shop, the men in our group asked if it would be alright if us women could come into the establishment. It was okay for us westerners, but Yemeni women can only dine in restaurants that has a section screened off for privacy. This reason is so no one can see their face.
Our experience of Aden was short. We stayed 3 days to provision, get Visa for Egypt and fuel up. We didn’t want to over stay our welcome, even though many people were sincere in welcoming us to their country, a few were put off that we were Americans. Three days in Yemen was enough.