I felt comforatable in Sana'a, enjoyed the weather and felt I had become oriented to Yemen in the mere three days I was there being introduced to my school and surroundings. On the 22nd I took a Yemenia flight to Aden, a short 45 minute plane ride south.

Yemenia is a decent airline despite what everyone told me prior to my flight, saying it was a no hold bar kind of airline where anything goes. Except for the annoying three year old French girl who kept kicking my seat, I found it to be enjoyable. They even played music all during the flight, my favorite was the Godfather theme song playing prior to landing.

My first impression of Aden? HOT. And humid. Mind you a week ago I was in subzero weather of the United States under a blanket of snow. Aden is a city built into the crater of an extinct volcano. Mountains surround the city which has beaches lying on the sea. The people are very laid back here which is nice. I have shed the abeya (big black dress) and veil I wore in Sana' need to pay me to wear that in this heat. I have no idea how the women here do it.

The director of the school, Shukri, was the man who greeted me at the airport, wearing his skirt and with the biggest wad of qat (I'll write more about this stuff later) I have ever seen stuffed into his right cheek. He along with a random guy in the passenger seat drove me to my apartment, which to my surprise is private. I thought I would be sharing housing, but I have my own place here. It's nice...two bedrooms one sitting room, kitchen and bathroom with a 'throne' toilet. Not the normal hole in the floor so traditional of Yemen. I still have no idea how to get the hot water working properly.

At first Shukri took me to the wrong apartment, one floor up where a man named Abdullah lives. Shukri knocked ont he door, Abdullah emerged and greeted me as if I were going to be living there. I had joked to my friends and family about how I was being sold into white slavery and it was at that moment that I actually thought I might be! However, it was an honest mistake, and Abdullah is a sweetheart. He came down the following day to introduce himself properly, gave me his number and told me if I needed anything I could contact him.
I only had one day before my classes began and I spent it getting oriented, cleaning, unpacking and lesson planning. This was also the day I experienced my first real bit of culture shock. I don't know if it was from the jet lag or the fact that this place truly foreign to me...but I did feel quite uneasy. My mom called me which seemed to make the feelings subside and today I'm better. But it really did blow there for a while.

I also feel homesick not for the United States, but for Egypt. Strange.

Welcome Home?

I have finally arrived in Sana'a, Yemen to begin working as an English teacher after signing my contract with MALI (click on one of the links to learn more about it) nearly four months ago. I will be living in the coastal town of Aden until summer time when it becomes unbearably hot and humid, I will then be living in the Capital city of Sana'a which has a year round mild climate.

I am not experiencing any culture shock. Rather, I am feeling strange about not feeling like this is a foreign country to me any more. Several people have emailed me, writing 'welcome home'. In a way it feels that way.

So you may find yourself asking, 'Where the heck is Yemen?'. It's simple. Start in Egypt and go east until you get to Saudia Arabia, then make a sharp 90 degree turn right and head south. You will find yourself crashing into an enormous mountain range and ir's around this point that you have arrived in a part of Yemen. However, it is not only mountains, Yemen is split into thirds: desert, beach, mountains.
It cannot be compared to any other place in the world. Yemen is a place with a unique culture and history that I am only beginning to understand. It was not until the fall of the Imam in 1962 that the Yemeni started opening up to the rest of the world and it was not until the 1980s's that foreigners began traveling to the country.

So now you ask, 'Why the heck are you in Yemen?'. Again, it's simple. I like teaching English, I receive a decent salary, have my airfare paid for, cost of living is cheap, I do not pay for an apartment and I receive private Arabic instruction for free. These are just the logistics.
As a friend of mine once said, Yemen gets into your blood and you keep going back for more. I do not believe a country hosts a more hospitable people combined with a culture and history that includes the Queen of Sheeba along with where Noah allegedly set sail in his Arc. Walking around in Yemen is like walking back in time.

More questions you may ask...

Is it required to wear burqua or veil for women? NO

Can women drive? YES, the only place they can not is in Saudia Arabia because that country is crazy.

Don't men harrass you? NOPE. If a man were to touch or say anything to me it would be shameful. I once saw a man beaten by a baker with his shoe because he had followed a woman home. I'm not exaggerating.

Is it safe? YES

Aren't you scared? NO

Don't they hate Americans? No, they just don't understand America's foreign policies. Come to think of it...neither do I.

Will you be kidnapped? I don't think I will be. You are more likely to be kidnapped in Mexico City. Even if I were I would be treated as a 'guest'. Lots of food, lots of tea and lots of gold given to me upon my release. Foreigners were kidnapped in the past by tribes because they needed money to build infrastructure in their town or wanted to get the government's attention. Now the death penalty is enforced for any involvement in kidnapping and it is virtually non-existant.

Isn't the country full of terrorists? NO...the terrorists who have operated here were not Yemeni. Psychos from other countires using Yemen as a base.

Is the food good? Hell YES!

Are the people friendly? The nicest and most hospitable people I have ever encountered in my life.

So now you wonder why the heck is there so much bad press about Yemen? And the Middle East for that matter. Very simple. Over sensitive governments (not mentioning names here but I'm sure you can figure that one out on your own) irritated that foreign governments will not follow on a leash with policies instilled by the West. And blowing a few events up so that they characterize the country. Imagine America portrayed by Oklahoma City bombings or 9/11 or the bombings in London's Tube.

The other reason is ignorance. For anyone who has traveled to this land knows the treasure it holds.

Still don't believe me? No worries, I'll just sit back and enjoy it all myself.