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Yemen

Travel memories from 1997

 

A land which once used to be a legendary kingdom of the Queen of Sheba is now called Yemen and is situated in the bottom of Arabian peninsula. Thanks to its position became an important stopover for the antic trade route to India.

 

Ancient kingdoms at Arabian peninsula became rich thanks to egyptians, greeks a and romans because they were selling them myrrh and franckincense (obtained from the trees which are yemenese endemites). 

 

Many kingdoms were born here and many dissapeared as well. The most important used to be inland's Sheba which survived 14 centuries from 1000AC. It had very rich agriculture thanks to arabic peninsula's that time unique water dam in Marib.

There are many legends saying about a fairytale treasure given by the queen to the king Solomon. They say about an enormous amount of gold, silver, precious stones, spice and camels given to him.

When in the 1st century greeks and romans discovered that India is reachable by sea, the ports were born and the inland's trade route through Sheba stopped to be important.

This was a start of Sheba's kingdom decadence.

With the new king christianity became the official religion and this is connected with the demand after one of the most important commodities of that time already mentioned - myrrh and franckincense.

 

Yemen doesn't really belong to the most visisted places in the world but if you're interested in arabian world and have a little sense for adventure, this might be the right destination for you. 

I visited Yemen in 1997. Traveling there was like taking a ride with the time machine back to the past. I traveled with my that time girlfriend Fulvia and another italian couple. We didn't see any tourists back then. Nobody spoke English. We hired a jeep with the driver for 50$ a day from a company where the owner could speak French. 

Most of the roads were dusty and uncovered. Concrete roads were only around the capital city of Sana'a.

On the road we stayed with families in their houses and they were also cooking for us.

In Sana'a we had enjoy to stay in nice hotels made from clay like all the yemenese houses.

At this journey I touched the real arabian world with its rich history, recognised its legendary hospitality which showed me how big is the heart of arab people and I touched the culture far away from the western influence.

From the locals I could hear many times in the restaurant when I wanted to pay: "It's already paid! Don't worry, welcome to Yemen!"

This is how I was welcomed in Bin Laden's fatherland.

 

I cant be only sentimental though - 

some fanatics tried to kidnap us in the middle of nowhere in the desert. We were watching our driver fighting heavily with another man carrying kalashnikov and changing their looks onto us to the car. Maybe we were only lucky or our driver who ended up with few bloody bruises on his head was a good negotiator. Anyway thanks to him we could continue in our journey unharmed.

This was not the only tense experience we had. After I took the photos in Ma' rib I could hear few gunshots. I'm not sure if they were addressed to me, maybe I was only at a wrong place at a wrong time.. Anyway this experience didnt destroy my love for arabi people and this country which for me personally is the most beautiful place in the world and will always have a place in my heart. 

I will come back one day, Yemen! 

I hope that those experience didn't destroy your interest in traveling this special country. Maybe I will have a pleasure to explore unexplored with some of you who have just read this article. 

 

Yours Uccio,

Learn to Travel

 

Next time I would like to visit also Socotra island which belongs to Yemen. It is considered to be Galapogos of Indian Ocean. It lies to the south in the Gulf of Aden. It has an amazing biodiversity not only thanks to its flora, also majority of fauna is endemite, white sand beaches without resorts and crowds, crystal clear water with coral reefs and its marine life.

 

More of my pictures taken in Yemen you can see at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=319024&id=295476770537

FB page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Learn-to-Travel/295476770537

www.learntotravel.net under construction

 

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