I Alhamdulillah arrived in Sana’a airport on the 13th October 2011. This was 3 days later than scheduled due to a delay from the airline and unrest in Yemen. On arriving in Sana’a airport, everything looked as normal as ever; people were still rushing everywhere, the queues weren’t organised, you could hear loud shouting and the border control police were still as miserable as ever. But we all got through without any problems, Alhamdulillah. When we finally collected our baggage from the one turn-belt that was working at 1000% capacity, we stepped outside the airport to meet my friend who would take us to the coach station to complete our journey. This was the first time I noticed a difference in Yemen. There appeared to be a lot of military controlling the streets and many checkpoints to pass. Roads were blocked off with big rocks which made our journey twice as long, and certain areas were completely inaccessible.
On arriving in Ta’izz, it was dark and quiet, the streets were mostly deserted and I wondered why. I later found out this was because the fighting was so intense in Ta’izz that everyone had to be home by 8pm, to be safe from the gunfire. That same night, at about midnight, the gunfire started in the distance and close-by; this would form the basis of a normal night throughout the duration of our time in Yemen. The next morning, we visited the main shopping areas but shops were closed due to fighting the night before. Daily life was much more difficult now.
Apart from the unrest in Yemen, and all the problems, it was still a beautiful place to be and I enjoyed every day more than the other.
Wedding Plans and Travel Adventures
We then had to plan for my brothers’ wedding which took us a few weeks. After everything was completed and my brother was finally married, I then travelled for a week to Dubai via Aden airport. I finally realised I was back in Yemen when some random person asked me to check in one his large luggage items so he wouldn’t be charged for excess luggage! Also the usual signs such as messy queues, everyone rushing and the flight being 2 hours delayed. But to be honest, customs were very helpful and allowed me to enter the country without a valid visa and I was happy to be back in my homeland.
After Dubai, we then visited other places in Yemen such as the beaches in Aden, old mosques, high mountains with amazing views and theme parks. But the thing I enjoyed most was spending time with my family and enjoying their company.
The Capital, Sana
I spent my final 2 weeks in the capital, Sana’a. It seemed as though there was no unrest in the city, the shops and markets were open as normal, and there was a constant transport service, unlike Ta’izz. There was still heavy armoured vehicles scattered everywhere but it was mostly peaceful.
A funny moment happened in Sana’a when I was riding a motorbike to the University; me and my cousin were both passengers (as this is the norm in Yemen). The driver was very erratic and my cousin made a comment about it, but I brushed it off. Later we got into a conversation with the driver himself, and he said “this is my first time ever driving a motorbike”! Me and my cousin looked at each other with fear and laughter, realising this guy hadn’t known what he was doing at all. We thankfully concluded our journey with everything intact.
Overall, it was still the best time I have ever had, and I would go again tomorrow if I could.