Djibouti & Yeman

Mail sent: Wednesday January 19 2005 

Yip, believe it or not we are in Yemen, the southern tip of the Middle East.
And let me tell you, the people are very friendly and this is a beautiful country.   Very dry like Namibia, but has many high mountains and believe it or not they have buildings and 3 level houses all the way to the top.  And the roads are like the N1..... all the way to the top!!Yeman Mountain Twisty RoadThe price of petrol is rather different to Africa, it is about R1,10 per litre - cool hey!

It was a rather quick journey from Addis Ababa to Djibouti.  We only spent 22.5 hours in Djibouti as we were blessed by chatting to the right security at the harbour entrance; who phoned the 2nd in charge of Djibouti harbour; who put us on a cargo boat (with 2800 sheep!!) to Al Mokha, Yemen.But more about this adventure when we reach San'a, the capital of Yemen.

Mail sent:Saturday January 22, 2005  Sana's Yeman

Well as you all know we are in Yemen.  We are enjoying the town of Sana's which is the very huge capital. 
Out of Ethiopia and into Djibouti was pretty hassle free, and we didn't have to pay any road taxes, thank you Jesus. We rode about 10km and Johan decided to find a spot in the desert on the pan to camp as the road runs right through some sections of the pan.  At first I wasn't too happy about this as all I could see was rocks next to the road and they are not my favorite surface to go over with the GS.  I walked onto the pan to test the surface, then Johan rode on with the GS, and we rode across to the other side (about 1.3km) and found a place to pitch the tent behind some palms next to the slope of the mountain, out of site from the road and very romantic!  - except that we were rather sticky, sweaty and smelly!!  Surprisingly there were no animal sounds, except for bats.
Dijibouti Desert Salt Pan

Next morning it was Djibouti City.  Well what a surprise, from the beautiful desert and pans to really, really dirty towns and the 'soweto rose' (plastic bags) everywhere.   The closer we got to Djibouti the worse it got.  Johan  was amazing,   we rode straight to the harbour and Praise the Lord, He led us to the correct entrance and the correct people,  in 4 hours we were loaded on a cargo boat (with the 2800 sheep) and heading for Yemen. 16 hours later we were in the Port of Al Mukha, Yemen.  The customs clearance and immigration took longer as the officials love to chat and drink tea.  Then we were on our way. 

Djibouti and Yemen

Let me tell you about our little boat ride from Djibouti to Yemen. Djibouti is very dirty and very expensive, reminded me about Maputo and Beira. Their number plates are also black with white letters. While 'Maine was doing the negotiations at the harbour and me watching the bike I saw a big blue wooden boat loading hundreds of sheep. Another bigger ship was loading cattle with a crane, 3-4 at a time hanging with slings while the poor animals kicking like mad. Not a place for animal lovers, the SPCA will not like how Africans handle their animals. However that was not my concern, as I was thinking how to load our GS. 'Our' boat was indeed the sheep one, with 3 decks of sheep packed in like sardines, 2800 of them. Johannes, jy en Josef sal nou presies weet hoe groot die boot is. The Captain, from UAE, wanted me to rent a crane to put the bike on the upper deck, next to the steering wheel 'house', away from the sheep. But instead I told him not to worry, the bike can go in between the sheep, as the GS was so dirty from the muddy roads in Ethiopia, a little sheep poo would not make a difference. Then the boat's crane can be used.And so we did, load and tied theGS with the  GS with the Dijibouti Loading GS on cargo vesselAnd so we did, load and tied the GS with the sheep next to the GSgs and sheep1.JPG.bmp (515560 bytes) Little did I know sheep like to chew on anything, including bike parts! We had our hands full trying to keep them from chewing on the GS. Then we covered the bike with our tent sail, so the sheep had something else to chew on other than our bike.

As soon as the boat left and started rocking on the waves, the sheep stopped chewing, thank you Jesus. I had the GPS on and we could track our way on the sea, It took us 16 hours to Al Mucka with an average speed of 14km/h. God blessed us with good weather and we did not get sea sick or anything. It is an amazing site to see, all the big container ships pass us, they are huge. The worst part of the boat ride was at night, when the rats are doing their bussiness. I hate rats, especially if they run over your face while you are sleeping! I screamed like a woman, I got up and rather sat on a chair. To my suprise, "Maine was still lying on the deck, not too worried about some rats. The crew on the boat was very friendly and even fed us excellent food. It cost us only $100, what a blessing from our Dad!
Actual route across the Red Sea
Actual route across the Red Sea

The next morning we docked in Yeman and offloaded the bike. After the magic stamps in our passports our unofficial guide, who lead us to the immigration and customs office, wanted us to follow him in to town with his little 100cc. We were tired and not very "lus" for the bunch of small bikes around us, and I was sure he would want money for his service, so I shook them off and left town. The maxinum speed is about 100km/h, shame! Yemen is surprisingly different from Africa and but still very beautiful.   Very dry, very mountainess, absolutely brilliant roads (but the Arabs are very aggressive drivers and overtake any where and love the hooter/horn), extremely cheap petrol (R1,10 per litre) and unbelievable house construction from in the valleys to way up in the mountains.  I can't wait until we can find a place to down load the photos to send to your all.  We have arrived here during a Muslim celebration, so there are public holidays until Tuesday next week, then we can go to the Embassy's to find out about the visa's for Saudi, Jordan or Oman, UAE.

We love and miss you all. God bless Middle East cell no:  +96 771071568

Yemen is nothing like Africa. They say things are bigger in the USA, let me tell you everything here is bigger than Africa. Cars are big, Landcruisers style, roads are wide, and I mean wide. Sana has got 2 and 3 lane roads right around and in the city. Big buildings, most higher than 3 stories. The hotel room beds are big, 4 people can sleep on it!  People are friendly, but very few can speak English, and no one can speak Afrikaans?  They got a interesting culture, and it seems it does not include woman. In some restaurants they wanted to put us in a private room, but we refused to be in the dog box. While eating some  people starred at us, as they are not used to share the restaurant with woman. Many people looked at us,as if we are strange when we walked in the street, holding hands. Very interesting to see the restaurants full of men and boys only? I thought driving in Nairobi and Addis is hectic, it's a peace of cake compared to Yemen. Traffic is much faster, once you are used to the style, you start to like it. One oke here stopped next to us in his big Land Cruiser, saying: "Germany? Hitler number one" and show us the thumb up. I do not know why most think we are from Germany, probably because we are on a BMW? In that case they must be all Japanese. Johan & Charmaine YemanThe military presence in Yemen is big. Everywhere there are armed military with Land Cruiser bakkies with big machine guns on the back. We walked passed a normal shop that sell guns. Some people walk with guns and have it in their cars, not pistols, military style rifles.  People seemed to trust one another, in some shops cash is laying on the counter in stacks. It all sound funny and strange altogether, but they make you feel welcome in their country. I would not recommend a woman alone to visit here, but with your husband no problem.  What does Yemen look like? Nothing like Africa I tell you. Dry, Mountain scenery like Lesotho(not as green), excellent roads. Very beautiful, I thank the Lord for bringing us in this direction. It is unfortunately very dirty, everywhere you stop next to the road are bottles, plastic, cans, rubbish, you name it! The fuel stations are something else, hard to describe, the dirtiest we have seen. You can see the Arabs don't care about being neat, but they do care about eating good. Their food is of the best quality and you can get anything except pork chops and braaivleis. Roast chicken seems to be their favourite, and not the skinny African chickens, menere soos Suid Afrika.

Thanks Jordan and Deon for the sms's you sent us. Jordan, we will be seeing you in Canada, when I do not know, it is in God's hands. Our journey is far from over I tell you. Many people ask us what is our plans. We do not ride on plans, but rather on dreams, may we never stop dreaming! When we left Cape Town on 13 June 2004, we wanted to see Africa, Middle East and Europe. As we went on we decided we also want to see both North and South America, as well as Australia. So that is our dream. After Europe we will probably go to Canada or USA, and work our way South. But that might be in a year or two. The next question is how long will it take? Answer is as long as it takes. Never rush your dreams.  The GS is still going fine. Even with the big setback we had in Kenya, I would not choose another bike for this ride. We also had some problems with the bad quality of petrol in Malawi and especially Ethiopia. We have traveled 19000km now.  May God be with you all and you will hear from us again once we are in UAE. Fasbyt manne, Jesus het julle lief.

PS Something else to read below

Bring What You Have .......................By CJ van Zyl

At the beginning of a new year, it is quite normal to think about the  things one would like to accomplish during this year. One may set new goals, make New Years resolutions, or simply just have  a vague idea about these things to be accomplished. Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that as Christians, we rely  on the Lord to help us to accomplish our plans. The Lord reminded me about a portion of Scripture that displays His  attitude towards our plans, goals and ideas that we would like to see  fulfilled. It is the story about a young boy that happened to be in the right  place at the right time.He had a few fishes and a few loaves of bread with him. Jesus used what the small boy had to feed 5000 men, not counting women  and children. The small boy did not really have to do anything. He just gave what he  had.

And this is exactly what God requires from us.

We don't have to be somebody very important to be used by God. He took  what the small boy offered Him, and did a miracle with it. Each one of us has something that we can offer the Lord to use. And He can touch the lives of thousands with what we bring. At the beginning of this New Year 2005, bring what you have and who you  are to the Lord, and allow Him to use that to touch the lives of  others. Let us lay all our goals, plans and ideals before Him, give it over to  Him, and see what He does with what we have to offer.

E pos :Sunday January 23 2005

Midde Ooste is 'n plek daar ver, of so het ek nog altyd gedink. As jy die TV aanskakel dan sien jy hoe skiet die mense mekaar in die midde ooste. Dis gewoonlik Isreal of Irak, maar ook deel van die M O. Nou is ons hier. Dis glad nie vergelykbaar met Afrika nie. Afrika is geweldig arm in vergelyking met Yemen. Mens sien nie plakkershutte of strooi huise nie, al die geboue is groot en met bakstene! Bedelaars is bitter min, omtrent niks nie. Ek glo nie hier is arm mense nie, nou nie so ryk soos Shumacher nie, maar middelklas en op.  Afgesien van die goedkoop petrol is die ander nuwe ervaring hier die vrouens, of sal ek eerder se die te kort aan hulle. Vir elke vrou wat jy op straat sien is daar so 40 mans, dit is hoe min jy hulle sien, en dan sien jy hulle ook nie eintlik nie, want almal het pik swart klere aan en alles is toe behalwe hulle oŽ. Lyk soos Ninjas ek sÍ. So nie 'n goeie idťe om moeilikheid te soek met hulle nie.Charmaine Yeman Maar iets wat vir my baie interesant is, ek kry die gevoel die ouens hier is nie so 'heilig' soos hulle voorgee nie. Hulle vrouens word soos kluisenaars behandel en nerens by resturante of publiekke plekke sien jy hulle nie. Ek se nie hulle word sleg behandel nie, jy sien hulle net nie. Nou ek weet nie wat die rede hiervoor is nie, meskien staan daar iets daarvan in hulle koerant (Koran). Skakel jy die TV aan dien sien jy hoe lyk hulle vrouens, met normale klere aan soos enige westerse mense? Nou hoekom mag hulle nie in die strate so loop nie? Ook het ek op gelet hoeveel van hulle by die internet kafees pornografie kyk! Nou hoe verstaan jy dit? Wonder wat sÍ die koerant daarvan?

Die wereld is siek! Maar gelukkig is daar verlossing in Jesus!  Kenia het my biindruk want by elke internet kafee staan dit duidelik dat hulle nie pornografiese site toelaat nie. Kenia is die mees Christelike land wat ons deur gery het. Maar ek weet dat jy sulke siektes ook in die Kerk vind, ja, Jesus se hart moet seer wees daaroor. Ek glo ook dis die oorsaak omdat heelwat mense nie christene wil wees nie, want die kerk is nie altyd wat hy behoort te wees nie!  Hulle rekenaars is ook in arabies, kan jy jou voorstel Microsoft windows in Arabies? En alles is van regs na links, dis mos soos hulle skryf. Ook die keyboard het arabiese letters, maar ook engelse, anders sou ons saffer.  Die rekenaar wereld is darem nice, sit nou hier in 100% Moslem land en luister na radio kansel! Prys die Here! Daar is nie stop om God se woord te hoor oorals op die aarde nie!  Oor die algemeen is die mense hier nice en baie vriendelik teenoor ons. Baie van hulle het nie 'n idťe waar Suid Afrika is nie en ken nie ons vlag nie. Hulle praat ook baie min engels, so as jy hom klaar gewys het die RSA vlag en 320 keer South Africa gese het antwoord hy met 'n vraag, Germany? Dan lag jy maar net en gaan aan. Ook in EtehpiŽ is vir ons telkemale gese ons is van Europa, want ons is wit en net swart mense is van Afrika. Ek glo ons het 'n paar oortuig dat daar wit mense is in die suide van die kontinent, waar anders sou al die ontwikkeling vandaan kom? Dis nou nie 'n rasistiese aanmerking nie, voor jy iets daaroor wil se kom toer eers so bietjie in  die res van Afrika en kyk wat daar aangaan, Zimbabwe is 'n goeie voorbeeld.  EtehopiŽ was baie nice en baie anders as ander Afrika lande. Hulle gee voor hulle is die armste land, maar my opienie is dat Mosambiek by verre die armste is wat ons gesien het. Djiboeti is net so vuil soos Beira en Maputo. Ek dink na Kenia is EtehopiŽ die welafste land. Dis nou RSA en Nam uitgesluit. Die meeste Etehopiers laat jou nie baie tuis voel in hulle land nie, op straat word vir jou geskree you you you you you so ver jy gaan. Baie kinders hou van klip gooi, maar het gelukkig hulle klipgooi klasse gebank, nie soos Kaialitcha nie.

Dis die land met die mooiste natuur, Kenia nie ver agter nie, net so pragtig. As jy eers Kenia en Etehopie besoek het, hou jy nie meer so baie van Tanzanie, Malawi en Mosambiek nie, waar jy as wit mens heeltyd afgerip  word.  Goed, ek sluit nou af. Mooi gaan en mag Jesus julle seen. Vandat ons rigting verander het en Yemen toe gekom het eerder as Sudan het so baie deure oop gegaan en ek twyfel nie dat Hy ons hierheen gestuur het. Deure gaan nou oop en ons oorweeg dit baie sterk om nie meer Suadi toe te gaan nie, maar eerder Oman en UAE, Dubai. Daar sal ons kyk vir werk. Toe ons die GS aflaai van die boot af en hier begin ry, was die tenk leeg en ek het net 2000 Yemen rails op my gehad wat ek geruil het in Djibouti. 2000 Rails is so R60. Gewoonlik kos my bike so R130 om vol te maak in EtehopiŽ. Die mense praat nie 'n woord engels nie en ek wys toe die outjie by die vulstasie 'n 1000 Rail noot en hy kyk my snaaks aan? Ek verduidelik hom dis al wat ek kan bekostig, want ons moet eers by die bank kom. Ha, hy maak daai GS vol met net 800 Rails (R26)! 26lieter. Ek kon dit amper nie glo nie!  Ons het ons CMA badjes afgehaal want mens weet nooit wat die arabiere kan maak nie. Ek het vir 'Main gesÍ ek glo nie ons gaan 'n prys wen deur probeer braaf wees nie. Die midde ooste is 100% moslem. Ons sal dit weer na Turkye seker aansit. Ons het niks om te bewys nie.

Die GS lyk nou ook al soos 'n bike wat deur Afrika was, want kom ek se Kenya se paaie het die arme bike goed verinniweer. Die shocks is moeg en die een voor shock lek olie. Ek het al seker 6 bulps vervang op die voorlig. Die petrol in EtehopiŽ is van baie swak gehalte en die enjin het vreeslik gesukkel en min krag gehad. Meeste van EtehopiŽ is hoŽr as 2000m. Hierdie petrol is baie beter. Maar as jy 'n droom wil uitleef moet jy iets op offer, so die slytasie wat die GS nou op doen is nie 'n patch teen die avontuur wat ons het nie! Hy het nou 63 000km op en is 25 maande oud! Hoes daai? Oja, en pap wielle, het seker al 6 gehad, meestal omdat Kenya se pad die nuwe tyres lelik gesny het. Maar ons patch maar en gelukkig het ons die toeristing om dit langs die pad reg te maak.  Ma, dankie vir die mooi foto van Jakes en die Jeep, eks bly hy laaik my Jeep.  Soos ek sÍ oor die Dubai storie, ons is nog nie seker nie. Saudi sal seker nie 'n probleem wees nie, maar as ons kan werk in Dubai, sal dit baie help, ons het die geld nodig. Die herstelwerk aan die GS sal heelwat kos en ek wil graag baie goed vervang in Duidsland, soos die shocks en die gebreekte fering van die Mosambiek ongeluk. As ek nie my hand op hom hou nie, dan gaan hy lyk soos 'n wrak as ons klaar is. Ons is nou is eerste wereld, of so voel dit na Afrika. Ek kan sien Afrika is baie arm in vergelyking met midde ooste. Het nog nie een arm mens gesien nie, baie min bedel, soos in baie min. Alles hier is groot, groot karre (meeste ry Land Cruisers, by verre) breŽ paaie, groot geboue, selfs die beddens in die hotelle is King size! Mense is verbasend vriendelik, maar hulle ry soos varke.  Die rekenaars is onderstebo, werk van regs na links (soos hulle skryf) en is in Arabies! Gelukkig is die tekens dieselfde so ons werk op die prentjies.  Keyboard is ook engels en arabiese letters. Ons het al 600 fotos geneem vanaf Nairobi.

Mail sent:Tuesday January 25 2005

We have decided to skip Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and rather go to Oman and United Arab Emirates. We have been told to be super cautious in Saudi, by Yemen people, even they do not trust them? Once we are in UAE, we will seek for a Job there to fill our funds. If so, we would like to go to the Bahrain Grand Prix. Please Jesus, We've never been to a F1 race! Will be a huge blessing. If any one of you know someone to contact for a job in UAE, Oman or that area,(Agency or Company) please be so kind to let us know.Actual route through YemanWe got our Oman Visa today while waiting for it, it cost us  $21 each. Tomorrow we will be getting UAE visa, and the next day we will leave Sana'a It is about 2500km to Dubai, will take us maybe 5 or 6 days.

Actual route through Yeman


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