Saturday, January 19, 2008

To Yemen or Not to Yemen that is the Question

We managed to land on our feet the day we were homeless, the kind owners of the internet cafe let us pitch our tent in their back yard, it was no Hotel British Consulate but more my style I think plus it saved a walk to the internet everyday, we are living here now! And the place has aircon which is a welcome relief from the hot days.

The Cold Spot Internet Cafe, our new home.

Thats my tent, well sleeping spot on the right, my blue mat!

Everyday we have made the walk to the embassy of Yemen only to be told tomorrow, tomorrow, it became beyond a joke, so yesterday we pitched up again, no sorry no visas, what this is crazy! Atleast there was one man on our siad an Arabic chap by the name of Riad, he told us the consular was on his way, we waited and waited and then Riad tells us the consular is not coming he is staying home today, "NO" I said we need our visa today as there is a boat to Yemen and we are going to be on it, so he said lets go, I took him on my bike to the consulars house in the heart of the city, and boy was it a shit hole, I expected it to be nicer but we climbed a grubby staircase in a block of units with washing hanging about on lines strung about like a spider web, Riad knocked on a door and a lady opened it, Arabic was exchanged and in we went, down a passage, through an empty room to another and there sitting on the floor watching TV wearing nothing but a towel and a peice of tissue on his face from a shaving cut was a tiny little man, the Yemeni Console, I entered sat beside him shook his hand and gazed at the TV, he was watching bloody Gilligans Island!

Whilst Riad explained that we desperatley needed a visa I sat there not beleiveing the scenario I had ended up in, In Djibouti, in the Yemeni Consoles house, who was all but naked only wearing a towel watching Giligans Island, get me out of Africa my mind screamed silently. So Riad turned to me and said "lets go we get the others", back we road through the hectic traffic to the Embassy, got the others, there was now another person in the equation, Michael, an American also aboard an Africa Twin going the same way as us, Rene and I had our passports on us but Micheals was with the two other office men known as Tom and Jerry, go figure Gilligans Island, Tom and Jerry, a naked Consular and we need to find the Skipper for a boat to Yemen, I sure hope its not the SS Mino this is all becoming a bit much. When Michael asked for his passport they refused, well Jerry did, Tom seemed to be on our side, after asking again Jerry gave Michael his passport but proceeded to rant in Arabic and tare up his visa apllication, strange, we all then rode back again to the Consulars house.
So we all now sat on the same floor as I was sat before watching Gilligans Island but this time the Consular had put on his long Muslim dressing gown but still wore the tissue stuck to the side of his face. Proceedings began, began slowly, lots of talk between the other various men that had gathered in the room, Riad, the Consular and us, then proceedings were slowed by the Consular finding out that Jerry had ripped up the application form of the American, visa proceeding did not just slow they stopped and phones were dialed, they were ringing the Foreign Affairs Minister of Yemen here in Djibouti, "come on guys we just want our visa" I thought. But they were all on our side and it looked like we were going to get the visa it was just going to take time, which we were well a custom to now. So then the consular handed Micheal the phone and he had to tell the whole story to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Riad suggested Jerry was in it up to his neck with his little act. Now the Consular wanted Tom there in the house to assist with the visas, so back Riad, Rene and I went on two bikes to the embassy to collect Tom, this was out of hand now, if the little important man had just come to the embassy we would not be moving the whole embassy to him bit by bit or person by person, aarrggghhhh. And whislt there Tom was to bring Rene and my visa applications with him to the Consulars house, which he forgot! So all again in the house with Tom and another chap who appeared from nowhere who was the Captain of a boat leaving for Yemen tomorrow, great thats that sorted then. Things got under way again but first we all had to fill out a compliant about Jerry and sign it, so the conclusion I came to was to get a visa for Yemen you need an application form, a photo, a photo copy of your passport and a complaint letter about an angry man called Jerry!
The ball was rolling agian after the complaint letters, Rene and I had to fill out new applications and I had to run down the street to get another passport photo to go with the application, we all sat on the floor watching closely as finally the visas appeared from the Consulars pocket, we had waited 11 days for these preciuos stickers, eventually they were in our passports and our passports in our pockets, ready to say our goodbyes and leave this comic strip the Consular then insisted we now stay for lunch, well no boat today why not, I dont think we had an option it was manditory to eat lunch with him and about 6 others. It was a feast we all sat on the floor and shoveled food down with our clean right hand, you know what he left hand is used for, delicious Yemeni dishes of meat, soup, spaghetti and something like a stew, traditional Yemen food, we had made a new best friend. After feasting like 18th century Kings the Consular gave us his brothers number who is head of Police in Yemen and wished us farewell.
Gilligan with his visa to Yemen, FINALLY!!!!
Once back at our home, the internet cafe, we learned that Al Qeada have just gunned down 2 Belgium tourists in Yemen, in cold blood, road block set up and they just opened fire, right in the area we need to pass, so last night and this morning we have tried to come up with a plan B, maybe routing through Saudi Arabia to UAE, but depends on if we can get a Saudi transit visa, fancy that hey, having to go through Saudi Arabia to avoid trouble in Yemen, I dont know what may be worse.
I have started to question is it all worth it now?? It has been of course thus far but from here on?, how long does one keep saying to oneself, it will be ok, so far it has but I guess I need to really take a look at the situation and make a sensible decision, I am not bullet proof, quite literally. I will cross to Yemen and reasses things there, the boat leaves this afternoon sometime, which also we have been warned about, they are over crowded, sea worthy is questionable, they get done for smuggling goods, pirate attacks and of course to top it off they sink! Shit.
So whats your weekend been like then???