Sunday, February 24, 2008


Well of course I made it to Dubai and with recent hurdles I have faced i have not had time to update the last leg of the journey across to Yemen from Djibouti then onto Oman and here. So these are the last days of the mother ship.

The journey to get here was sure eventful with many surprises. It started with the 250 kilometer crossing from Djibouti to Mocha in Yemen aboard a small wooden Dow. So it was myself, Rene the Canadian and Micheal from Germany. We man handled our bikes aboard the old fishing boat and tied them down as the sun set on us in the Port of Djibouti, with our passports stamped this was the last hours on African soil, I could not believe it I was leaving Africa, as the captain head us out to sea, I had left Africa, after just over 17 months I had conquered, slept, eaten, survived Africa.

Loading the bikes onto our ride to Yemen.

My last sunset on Africa, Djbouti Port.
Suddenly it seemed so far away as the stars became the roof over my head as I lay on the deck of the rocking boat, sharing it with a goat, a sheep, three bikes and about 20 other people, all with different reasons why they were aboard this old boat, mine was to take me out of Africa and to the Arabian peninsular. I lay there thinking off all that had happened since leaving London almost a year and a half ago, what an adventure it had been, in the beginning I always knew Africa would provide me with the adventure I yearned for but the question was how much? Well Africa delivered and delivered well, everyday was a new adventure not knowing what was around the next corner. At times I also wondered if I would make it out of there in one piece, I had, I had survived, the mother ship survived as well, what a bike, it got me through everything, never letting me down. My last thoughts as I tried sleeping on the deck getting sprayed by sea mist was lets just hope this boat stays afloat, there is more adventure to come.
Arrival at Mocha, Yemen, Oil Tanker on the right, camel carrier on the left.
The arrival in Yemen saw the arrival of a new continent, a new country and of course a new adventure. As we clumsily bumped into a mooring position it was quite a sight, one side of the
dock had a huge Norwegian tanker unloading perhaps oil, the other side a ship not of such a high standard unloaded camels, was a sight for the eyes. Since we were not able to pull right along side the dock there was a 2 meter gap between it and the boat. So now of course a bidding war started between us and the local port men on how much to pay to get these quarter of a ton bikes up out of the boat and across this gap to land. I got frustrated they wanted too much money so I looked about the boat for some planks, of course not to start swinging them in anger but to try and make some kind of ramp. We found three thin planks to bridge the gap across the water, and at this point we were all thinking the same thought, to hell with paying these guys lets lift them out ourselves, I was feeling strong! We lifted the first bike nervously up over the edge of the boat onto the planks, one bad move and the bike would have plunged to the bottom of the harbour, very slowly and carefully we rolled it across the plank to Yemeni soil. One down two to go, the other two bikes went across without a hitch but lifting the third seemed quite a struggle, not so strong after all! So after that ordeal, customs and immigration clearance commenced, this involved a lot of waiting and sitting around in the thick dust that blew in the air, eventually we got the nod to pass the Port barrier, we were in Yemen.

Unloading camels from the ship.
With the questions and hesitation of coming to Yemen due to recent killings of the Belgium tourists, our senses were heightened and all a little nervous. The quick stop in the first town for a cool drink and fuel did not do anything to settle our nerves, a white van pulled up abruptly and out out jumped a young man, looked at us went back to the van gestured something to his companions, they passed him an AK-47, walked passed us then proceeded to buy something from the shop, hopped back into the van and left by spinning the wheels, hmm all a bit strange for me, it was only really a taste of what was to come.
One of our escorts, a mounted anti aircraft 50 calibre, bit over the top boys!
Armed guard whislt we fix a broken fuel pump.
We rode onto Saana on the crazy but beautiful roads winding through the mountains, this would be our last part of the journey in Yemen with out company, from the capital we would have a police or military escort with us all the way watching our every step, which had just been enforced since the shootings. Due to this, the route that we wanted to take was out of bounds and the only road was along the coast. Each day involved a high speed race with the police, they had no concept of the way we wished to travel-wanting to stop when and where we wanted, may have been for our own safety, but it was a bit backward to me, they would have sirens blaring, lights a blaze and telling people to move out of the way over the loud speaker, my theory was if 'they' the people wanting to cause trouble wanted to know where we were, simply look out for the police escort, hard to miss. So along with the escort came no bush camping, only possible at police check points, not so desirable.

Another police escort, holding his bag of 'qat' with his cheeks full of the hullicinating plant.

All the women cover up completley in Yemen.

The scenery was spectacular, lunar landscape to volcanic fields and high plateaus, the people also were amazing, from invites to sharing food to a police commissioner insisting he fill our tanks full of fuel, at 25 cents a litre I did not feel too bad about taking 10 litre's on board, Yemen was a pleasure on the hip pocket.

The capital Saana, some say the most beautiful City in the world.

A checkpoint camp, the wet patch at the back of the photo is the toilet, not good on the nose!

Talk about a small world, while in escort one morning we pulled into the a checkpoint and there parked was a bicycle, of course not an ordinary bicycle as they are everywhere but an overland bicycle with panniers, as I pulled up the owner of the bike stood up and came over to introduce himself as 'Lars', I said 'ha I know,' I took my helmet off and he also recognised me as I did him. I met Lars, from Sweden in Namibia, riding his bike from Sweden to South Africa and last I heard he was in South America, now due to the escorts he was not allowed to pedal a metre. Especially in the area we were in, Wadi Hadromat, Bin Laden's home province and where the recent killings took place.

Lars, in a police escort, no pedalling for him.

Young Yemeni boy resting on the mother ship.

The coastal road, a very scenic, rugged coast line
A low early morning fog settles on the back drop.

'Attack' is that a sign!!
So since Lars was stranded and the roads were nice, all tarmac, a plan was born, three motorbikes, one to take his luggage, one to take his bike and one to take Lars himself, so after a bit of rearranging of our luggage a new member was added to the entourage.

Lars's bike strapped to the back of Micheal's bike.

I took Lars on the back of the mother ship, took the extra weight in its stride!