From Estonia with love (Round the World)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tsiklonaut, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. Rabbitson

    Rabbitson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    567
    Location:
    Somewhere in Deepest Benelux
    Tere Margus,

    You are truly a superstar. I wish I had asked you for your autograph last time I saw you now :)

    Your trip is an inspiration!

    Until the next time

    David
  2. bartman314

    bartman314 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    Location:
    new england
    i started reading your story a week ago... at the time i had no idea how compelling your adventure would be. reading your posts for seemingly hours each day (it seems i can read faster than you can ride), i was wondering where in the world i would catch up with you.

    yemen, it seems.

    thank you for sharing your adventure. adding my 2 cents to those of so many others... your portraits and panorama's are incredible and inspirational. words do not do justice.

    :bow :bow :bow

    i've taken copius notes and have started to plan my own adventure. you can now add 'muse' to your list of "been there, done that!" :lol3 :lol3 :lol3
  3. tsiklonaut

    tsiklonaut the (in)famous boxer perv

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
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    Location:
    semi-homeless
    Thanks a lot for the good feedback guys, really appreciate it. :thumb
  4. tsiklonaut

    tsiklonaut the (in)famous boxer perv

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
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    Location:
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    One of the oldest cities in the world, the Yemeni capital Sana'a looks as if it was made of gingerbread and decorated with icing. They definitely know how to stand out of the crowd in terms of architecture here in Yemen!

    It is a great city to wander and to get lost in. Maybe not quite like Yazd in Iran or Quito in Ecuador for there is plenty to distract you from truly falling for it. While you try to grasp the elegant patterns on the houses, some tatty cats fight in a pile of rubbish on a sidewalk. Countless MiG-29 and Su-22 ply the sky, flying so low you'd think they'll start dropping bombs. And the blindingly bright sunshine fighting the icy wind (Sana'a lies at the respectable altitude of 2300 meters or more than 7500 ft) mingling with both the aromas of leaded fuel and freshly ground spices. It is a living city after all, not a museum!


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    Panorama of Sana'a














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    Typical house in old Sana'a












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    On the street of Sana'a













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    Mosque.














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    A minaret hanging over the houses.















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    Ancient mosque in Sana'a
















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    Panorama of Sana'a in sunset colours (click to enlarge)















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    Sana'a in HDR.














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    Sunset over Sana'a



    But we received a warm reception. Walking the narrow streets and trying to find a better angle for taking a picture of one minaret we were invited to a courtyard where women were baking bread. Soon after we had been offered some tasty bread straight from the oven we were already invited into the home itself. We were sat on the floor, and before we knew we were already munching on delicious local food. If this isn't hospitality I do not know what is!


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    Women making fresh bread.














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    Like in tandoori oven in Pakistan, it's cooked on the vertical sidewalls of the open-fire oven.














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    The simple yet superbly tasty food the family gave us.








    Apart from wandering around there is really not much to do in Sana'a, so we just took it easy and just wandered around, chatted with people in the markets, accompanied by the music from a random cassette shop:





    ..:: LISTEN ::..











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    A portrait of a cassette-shop seller, some CDs were as well - it's a new thing in Yemen.















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    Cats on the street.















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    A young boy in traditional clothing - minus jambiya - parents felt it's too dangerous to play in this age I guess.














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    The coolest photo camera we've seen is owned by a Yemeni guy who just bought film from the shop - all good cameras deserve to serve their owners for a very long time (not like today's consumer world with new model of latest digital camera every 2 years :lol3 )













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    Boy with jambiya

















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    All things fresh and handmade - coffee on Sana'a market













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    Yemeni man in Sana'a













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    Girls on the streets of Sana'a













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    A young man in traditional clothing.












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    Most of the houses have stained glass windows from the inside (outside it's normal) - they create warm colours inside the houses indeed.














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    Raisins on the market.














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    Kariina and a local.













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    Stuff on the market in Sana'a













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    Spiceshop seller offering us tea.















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    Bread making tools on the market.















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    Colours of the windows.














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    Men of Sana'a in traditional clothing.














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    Yemeni money.














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    Men having fun with qat on the street.















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    Sunglasses for sale.













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    Knocker on the door in Sana'a













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    A doorway to the roof of a house.















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    A rare picture of a Muslim girl.




    As you have noticed, many men (and very young ones too!) wear sort of a dagger on their belt. It is called jambiya and is a part of traditional clothing, being also a symbol of identity as people of different tribes and social status wear different kind of jambiyas. Interestingly it has nothing to do with belligerence - already pulling the blade from the sheath and threatening someone with it can entail a good fine and put you into jail. Since it is more an accessory than a weapon, not much work goes into the blade which is normally left blunt and not well polished.


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    Jambiya


    On a Friday morning we stumbled upon a steaming hammam or a public bathhouse (men and women attend at different times of course!) - one has to cleanse himself or herself before praying, and Friday is the big day so the bathhhouses are really busy. This one really looked as if it were from out of space.



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    Yemeni hammam - architecture looks like from another planet.
















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    Going to hammam.















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    Windows of hammam.














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    Fire to warm up the hammam.



    Surely, prayers are not for Fridays only but one can hear the choir of mullah's roughly five times every day - once before sunrise, once when the sun is at its highest, once when the shadows of objects are the same length as the objects themselves, once at sunset and once when in is completely dark. Often there would be someone citing Koran also inbetween those times so it is never really quiet. But those five times a day - sometimes it feels that the end is near, with "sirens" going off:




    Or religious teachings that lasted continously for over 24 hours:








    Sana'a also offers a culinary experience, and quite a different one from the rest of the peninsula. Surely there is delicious fish.



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    Grilled fish in Yemeni way - a superbly tasting stuff.



    But what makes it stand out is the local speciality called salta. It is basically a stew, sometimes containing meat and sometimes not, but when it is brought to table it is still boiling hot. You scoop it up with the fresh bread, accompanied also by rice (which, in fact, does taste like gingerbread as it is flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom and god knows what else), some salad, spicy tomato sauce and some delicious broth. SImply delicious and costs very little.


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    Salta in the making on the open flames.














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    Still boiling salta with grilled chicken, noodles/rice mix, salad and sauce.


    But of course, not all was fun in Sana'a. We did get our Djibouti visas allright, but the Ethiopian embassy only issues visas to residents, not tourists. And the same thing applies to the embassy in Djibouti, so the only option is to send our passports by DHL for processing to Sweden (the nearest country to Estonia which has an Ethiopian embassy). And of course, due to the recent events no cargo leaves Yemen for Europe so we have to do it via Djibouti and have a painfully expensive (yep, Djibouti must be one of the most expensice countries in Africa, so normally people just ride through) two-week wait in Djibouti City. Pure horror!
  5. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,554
    Location:
    NYfC, yff
    viewing the city-scape panoramas is the complete absence of any form of advertising. No billboards, no gaudy signs, no subliminal media marketing... is it even possible to have commerce without all that crap?

    refreshing.
  6. morkiukas

    morkiukas Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    60
    Location:
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    best photos in all advrider!!!! :clap
  7. Grouik

    Grouik Bike & Beer

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    Belgium
    Thank you to remind me Yemen, I love this astonishing country
  8. kwakbiker

    kwakbiker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    758
    Location:
    Birmingham,UK
    Great stuff as usual you two, hows the new suspension holding up?
  9. Chev.

    Chev. The Final Drive?

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    174
    Location:
    Norway
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Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} </style> <![endif]-->everybody else says; astonishing pictures. Really out of this world and too much to take just at a glance on the screen. Makes me understand I need to learn a hell of a lot more about cameras and photo shooting - straight out incredible and truly inspirational.

    Nevertheless a practical question: How satisfied are with the 1150 Adventure tank. as I understand you previously had the big Touratech tank, do you ever miss it?
  10. tsiklonaut

    tsiklonaut the (in)famous boxer perv

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,553
    Location:
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    Yep, this is what we love about Yemen and also Iran - they're still not globalized, and as to Yemen, it seems quite primitive in trade and services. People still buy most of their food from the market, the processed foods being a rather new thing. And all the service providers - I guess it is a community thing with everyone knowing where is the best place to get things done, so no flashy commercials needed. If you do a good job people will come to you. A bit difficult for the outsider of course, but that makes Yemen very special to travel in IMHO - and it's not just the visual outlook of the country but the people have different state of mind as well - very refreshing indeed.

    So far so good. Posted some words about Hyperpro shocks as well:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=634845


    Yes, we had 41L tank before but having crashed it once the problem is that when it cracks, it's hard to repair on the road because it needs special glues and sealants. That's why we took metal ADV tank instead and modified the filler hose so it takes around 32 liters of usable fuel (TT 41L tank has around 39L usable, so not so big difference as one would expect).

    We've crashed 3 times that would almost certainly have broken the plastic tank, so the metal tank choice has been worthwhile - just kick it out or weld it if needed, easy as that.

    Ride safe,
    Margus
  11. tsiklonaut

    tsiklonaut the (in)famous boxer perv

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,553
    Location:
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    After Sana'a we passed some more Yemen-style villages, but somehow we felt we had had enough of extravagance combined with the feeling of the place being very down-to-earth, so we only made some small detours before heading to the once famous coffe port of Al Mokha through the pretty Haraz mountains.


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    Strange Dar Al-Hajar - one of the symbols of Yemen.














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    Panorama of our route through the Haraz mountains (click to enlarge each panorama)












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    Panorama of Haraz mountains.












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    Panorama of terraced fields in the heights.












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    Panorama from Kawkaban.












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    In Kawkaban.














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    Village street in Kawkaban.














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    A minaret and a loudspeaker.














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    House in Kawkaban.














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    Looking down from Kawkaban (9500+ ft.)














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    Yemenis like to build their villages into interesting places.














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    A young shepherd in the Haraz mountains.














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    Village mosque.














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    Hairdresser posing proudly in his saloon - in Yemeni terms, the saloon is extravagant - with TV, radio and other luxuries.













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    The Haraz mountains.



    Or maybe it wasn't the intensity of Yemen that we'd grown tired of, but the uncertainty regarding what was going to happen next. Because the only way to get from Yemen to Africa is across the Red Sea, and there is no regular connection. So we were highly dependant on some cargo boat captain's will to take us onboard from Al Mokha and to unload us in Djibouti, and not charge the world for the privilege.

    Once we arrived in Al Mokha, the first thing to do was to go and look up the port to get some information. As elsewhere in Yemen, nobody spoke any English, but we were able to understand so much that there were no boats to Djibouti that day. The next day, in sha'Allah. So we went and checked into the only hotel in Al Mokha which turned out to be nothing more than an overpriced rathole without safe parking. But there was no other choice.

    Since stayingin the hotel the rest of the day would have been rather depressing, we set out to look for the shadows of Al Mokha's glorious past. Once home to some 20 000 inhabitants, today it is no more than a windblown village with one street, some ramshackle buildings and a couple of mosques, one of which dates back to the 15th century, even before the town became famous. But the locals (no more than a few hundred fishermen and smugglers today) left us a warm and friendly impression, so all in all we do not quite agree with Lonely Planet's description that Al Mokha is as close as one gets to the gates of hell.


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    Red Sea coast in Al Mokha














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    Fishermen's boat at the Red Sea.














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    Funky village boys, Al Mokha.














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    Ancient mosque in Al Mokha.














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    Local bikers have rather interesting aftermarket bits on their bikes...














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    Mosque from 15th century (before America was discovered)














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    Local man and a mosque (check the color harmonization of the minaret and his flip-flops)













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    The local grin vs our foreign GS.



    All we have to do now, is find a right dhow (an Arabian wooden ship)...
  12. Lil' Steve

    Lil' Steve PussyWagon™ Chauffeur

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,731
    Location:
    NYC, AZ


    Simply beautiful. :thumb
  13. WOXOF

    WOXOF Just wander'n

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    706
    Location:
    Ada, MI
    Front Page Stuff :thumb


    Thank you Margus and Kariina for sharing your truly amazing adventure with us
  14. Preacher

    Preacher Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    Vancouver Island B.C
    Truly inspiring...I'm hooked. One of mine concerns would be traveling in some of those countries like Yemen, where there is great hostilities towards Americans. Maybe its just me but I would be somewhat fearful for my life. I know that life is full of uncertainties and anything can happen...but what would be your advice to Americans wanting to travel in that part of the world?

    Sincerely,

    Preacher
  15. ksaidi67

    ksaidi67 n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4
    God morning Marcos Karina
    Soon welkom to africa, i thing will be a mazing story from Afric , kip coing be caurfuul.
    Khalid
  16. tsiklonaut

    tsiklonaut the (in)famous boxer perv

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    Oddometer:
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    I think it's mostly paranoia among Americans themselves.

    Most people outside understand that's not the fault of people that USA goverment tries to police the world.

    We met one American backpacker in Yemen and according to himself he was always honest about his origin with the local people and never had a problem. He has travelled in Iran before as well. Just avoid political and religious talks and if it gets there, just say you are tolerant to all religions and you're not George Bush and you don't agree with your goverment's agressive foreign policy and I'm sure no one will mess with you, they'll rather respect your opinion.
  17. tsiklonaut

    tsiklonaut the (in)famous boxer perv

    Joined:
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    The next day we were back at the port early morning. Once again there was a lot of confusion as to whether any boat would leave for Djibouti that day or not, so we just waited. An English speaking businessman-looking local, Rashad offered us his help, and although normally we just ingore all the helpers and would-be agents, this time we thought we had more to win rather than to loose with this guy. After all, Al Mokha was probably our best chance of getting off the Arabian Peninsula.

    We were not too careful though, I must admit, as we let him slip away a couple of times with our passports so we almost thought we had lost them forever. But then he showed up again and all was good.

    By 6 PM our bike had been stamped out of the country and was standing on the dock, and our passports were in hands of immigration officers who refused to give them back to us before we were on the boat with all the crowd. Oh yes, we were not the only ones boarding the wooden boat laden with fresh dung left over by the previous passengers, hundreds of goats. We were there with a couple of dozens of Africans waiting to board with their huge sacks of Tom&Jerry corn chips, canned drinks and God knows what ever else that they were supposedly hoping to sell at a good price in Africa.

    We paid our helper the USD 260 the captain had requested for carrying us and our bike, and he disappeared, wishing us all the best. Of course we had our doubts as to whether Rashad had been an honest man and not just a scam, and actually paid the money to the captain. There was no way to be sure that once we got off in Africa nobody would ask us to pay for the passage, but that is the way it was. We were too tired anyway to linger too much on those paranoid thoughts so we just hoped for the best.

    Our bike was lifted onto the boat, but it took a while with all those chips and candies as nearly one hour was spent on bargaining Arabian way over the price to be paid for taking them onboard before they could actually be loaded. People shouted and waved their hands, but they got it done, and we were finally ready to leave for our 14-hour journey.

    Then the immigration officers came, got everyone once again off the ship, counted the heads and ushered us back onto the boat. Our passports were to stay with the captain till the end of the passage.

    We sailed off. It must have been the closest our mode of transport ever was to an animal wagon, with shit everywhere - on the walls and floor we were supposed to sleep on, and the biggest cockroaches we'd ever seen.

    As we got to the open waters the boat started swinging as hell, fighting the waves at relatively unimaginale angles. The wooden panels of the boat, with the bright blue paint peeling off, were screaching as if they were about to bend beyond their tolerance. If this isn't romance, what else is?!


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    Wooden dhows - one like this took us on.














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    Living on the floor with everybody else on the dhow.














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    Our neighbour woman had interesting henna drawings on her arms...














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    And feet.














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    Some were chewing qat.














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    Our neighbours.














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    Ship's mechanic.














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    Captain's personal helper.














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    Captain came to check us out often and to ask if we needed anything.














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    Faces start to take African look...














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    Sailing on the Red Sea under Djibouti flag.














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    Being in such a small ship, we became good friends with loads of people of different ages.













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    Captain at the helm - Somali pirates, where are you?














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    Panorama from the ship (click to enlarge)


    24 hours later we were still on the boat. Some were sleeping, some were chewing qat, and some were vomiting. But we were on Djibouti's doorstep! The coast guard came to check on the boat, and to interrogate all the Somalis on board. Weapon smuggling is a big thing here.

    Nothing of interest was found on the ship so we were left alone, but since it was already late we had to endure one more night on the boat before we could land, with Djibouti port's lights blickering just a stone throw's away. It was a hot and sweaty night as we were not moving and there was no wind, but at least it was quiet as the engines had been switched off.

    The next morning we finally got to the shore. The black ladies were so happy they sang "Allah Akbar" as their stuff was unloaded by eager helpers. Those that were not approved by the police got chased away with sticks. Very brutal indeed!


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    A wooden dhow docked in Djibouti port.














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    Our GS being unloaded from the ship onto African soil for the first time.

    Finally it was our bike's turn to get lifted off the ship. No big hassle, and no more money asked. It turned out that Rashad had been an honest man after all, and the crew as well. Bless those people, and their country! Although our description might have left a slightly negative impression of our passage (well, no cruise ship it was!), we were treated well by the crew, and even tasty food was provided three times a day. What else could you wish for?

    We got our passports back (stamped), imported the bike without problems with the Carnet, and off we were to explore the Black Continent. Or, we'll be, as soon as we'll be able to get our Ethiopian visas, that is.
  18. bdarling

    bdarling Weather Man

    Joined:
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    437
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    This is simply the most amazing travel thread I have ever seen. Your updates keep the inspiration alive...even if I'm stuck in a cubicle all day. Thank you for your dedication!

    -B
  19. AdvJani

    AdvJani Gnarly Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    I have to say, never seen so beautiful photos before... Congratulations! :clap:clap:clap

    Waiting for more... :*sip* :lurk
  20. ms51ves3

    ms51ves3 Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    I really like this picture
    Looking forward to the next chapter in your awesome adventure :lurk