Here another entry from one of our Yemen 2010 tour participants -Thanks Pam!
First of all you must conquer fear in order to go to Yemen to truly enjoy the trip. Friends were most concerned about this trip and many asked if my financial affairs were current. Nevertheless, I decided that I really wanted to go to Yemen and would not let negative thoughts dissuade me. I was amply rewarded for this decision. This was probably the best trip I ever took–the country, sights, food were amazing. The people of Yemen were most welcoming.
The tour was excellent giving us time to travel thoughout many regions of Yemen and enjoy the architecture. Frankly the afternnon at Shibam, the Manhattan of the Desert was undoubtedly one of the best, most intriguing places I have ever seen–and I have travelled throughout the world for over 30 years. Shibam was almost mystical especially at sunset.
The food was also a surprise–very fresh: salads, bread (terrific), goat, camel, beef, lamb and chicken (no pork of course). A lot of times for lunch we would stop at places along the highway where the locals eat. Shopping for souvenirs was also fun–that much room to bargain but the silver and other trinkets were well worth getting along with the local honey. After experiencing such dining and shopping experiences, I must say that the US stores and restaurants are boring.
But the real prize in Yemen was its people. Throughout Yemen we were constantly amazed that people were so welcoming and friendly. We had opportunities to talk to women (men and women are segregated and do not socialize together) as well as getting the benefit of a talk by a Yemeni analyst, Abdul Ghani Iryani, used by the western news media. We are not getting half the story in the US as Yemen and the Middle East are much more complicated than what is presented in the news media now.
Did I personally feel in danger. No. But it is advisable if contemplating this trip that you choose a specialist in Middle Eastern travel. Fortunately Rita is extraordinarly well connected and savvy and I would not hesitate in recommending her for any future trip to Yemen or to other Middle Eastern countries. We had police with us at certain points in our travels but they in no way interfered with our enjoyment and provided security for those who needed it. I do not want to mitigate Yemen’s very really problems that are well known to anyone who reads the papers but the news media misses the beauty of the country and the resilience of its people.
I do feel that I was personally extremely privileged to be on this trip and met in albeit a very limited fashion the Yemeni people. The people are the tour–seven including me–were all very adaptable to any schedule changes and needless to say quite well travelled. The other best thing about this trip is realizing that I could overcome unreasoning fear and be rewarded with a most fascinating and intriguing destination–Yemen.