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Published: December 21st 2009
Right off the bat my day started awfully, the staff at the front desk of the hotel does not speak English and I struggled to tell ask him for places to stay in Aden, then I need a taxi to the Farzat(share taxi station) so he send this young boy to fetch me one, he found one parked next to the hotel, the driver having his breakfast, when I got in he was saying Aden, 7,000! I said what? Just take me to Farzat Sana'a please, Aden he insists, I looked at the boy, turns out he hired me a taxi to go straight to Aden! Both can't speak English, I tried to convince him just take me to the taxi stand, when it did not work I walked out of the taxi and took my pack out the back and stood in the street fuming, the staff at the hotel saw it and they all came out and spoke to the boy whatever is happening, somehow it all got "understood" that I just want to be dropped off at the bijou stand, so I hopped back on the taxi.
Took only 10 minutes to get to the bijou stand
and suddenly the driver was asking me 700 rial for the fare, I balked knowing it costs only 300 rials, I said to him f..k off you cheat! he would not stop at the station and kept going slowly, I threatened to take him to the cops it did not work, I wanted to walk away but my pack is in the compartment, in desperation I happen to notice a group of young men standing near us and I yelled help! help! they approached me and I explained to them the situation, one of them can speak a bit of English, he spoke to the driver while the others try to calm me, and in the end I paid 500, still 200 more but I just want to walk away from this nightmare, the guys told me the driver is stupid and crazy, before he drove off I gave him my peace of mind, he heard his full dose of English for the day from me, all in expletives!
I thanked the dudes and a young boy street walker took me to the station across the road I think he was asking for tip, but quickly left when I
stared at him. I found a taxi that will take me, we waited a bit wrote my name on the manifest in Roman letters, the driver looked at me quizically but did not say a thing, paid 900 rial and off we go, as usual we are full, 9 people all in a station wagon. We stopped at the gas station to fill up, then when we left the car smelled of petrol which will permeate for a good hour, I almost suffocated and some idiots at the back would light up a cigarette even if the windows are rolled down, I wanted to kick him in the nuts, we can explode here anytime! Thankfully not. We stopped several times more, one so the driver can have breakfast, then another to pee, then to buy something hu humm always the same routine. Went through checkpoints with ease until we reached Aden, we went past several military checkpoints as well, so at the checkpoint this dude yelled at the driver for something when he noticed me, the passengers told me to hand out my permit, but the police officer was not contented, he asked for the passport, but he does not
know what to do with it, paging through it somehow found my visa, keeps asking where I am from, cannot find the info page, he gave up and just wrote America in the permit copy and we got waved to go.
Suddenly the taxi stopped and was told to get off, we are in Aden already! A guy asked me if I need a taxi I went with him, I told him where I need to go he nodded and asked for 1,000 rial I said hell no, 500! He agreed, drove to the crater but he seems lost, even if I showed him the map and where is the location of my hotel, he stopped at a hotel, I said to him this is not the hotel I am looking for, he took my map and motioned me to come with him, I stayed put but followed him later, he was asking for directions, I spoke to someone and he gave us directions actually one guy from the hotel came with us, we found the City Center hotel finally. Asked the desk for rooms, he quoted me 6,000! I said to him 3,500 as per LP, he said
no and I told him I will write to the gods of travel books to ban them for raising the prices, I am pissed now after a long day, I walked out and sat next to the taxi outside and figured out where to go next, the driver and the dude from the other hotel where helping me looking at the map, the taxi dude was about to take me to another place when one of the staff spoke to my driver and told him he will give it for 4,000, I took it. He wants my passport I said no take the copy, he asked me to pay in advance and I can keep my passport so I did.
I am staying in the crater area of Aden, millions of years ago there was a volcano here and the crater is all that is left of it, all 500meter something. Well who knew there will be a volcano in this part of the world. After settling in my nice room with a/c a treat to myself after a bad day, I walked around to find food and drink, then returned to my room and chill, coming back out
in the eve to check out the busy souq, very lively area, there's the fruit market stands, and a slew of jewellery and clothing stores, still center of attention, kunichiwa, arigato, etc being thrown my way, I just kept walking. Needed to change money so I went to one near the main drag, I was queuing up waiting for my turn in the counter when a young man cut me,when the guy in front finished I told him no, no no, I was here first you queue up like everybody else, he meekly went behind me, that should teach him a lesson. Then bought chicken shwarma and had my dinner. off to bed.
Next morning I wanted to play tourist so I asked the staff at the front desk where to go, gave me directions but right away I got lost! Screw this, I thought and went for a walk, I asked directions to the tanks, cisterns, water storage, an old man pointed me to that direction, I walked in a neighborhood a bit dodgy looking, people staring, I saw 2 big buses full of old tourists, thought to myself must be the right way, indeed, I arrived at
the Aden tanks, paid 100 rial only supposed to be 200 but the guy have no change for 500. The tanks were massive, I have to wait for my turn to go at some areas as the bus deposited lots of Italian tourists, when they left i took my time then went back to the hotel cause its so hot. I skipped going to the fortress, it does not look impressive anyway from what I saw from the taxi.
A group of soccer players are also staying in the hotel, they play league levels but are all from everywhere in Africa, they speak English with a Ghanaian accent. They are noisy and boisterous. In the eve the lobby of the hotel seems to be a gathering place for them, coaches and managers etc. Men come and kiss each other then sit down and have some tea and talk to the players. I left them and went to bed.
The next day I wanted to know the bus schedule for Sana'a, Brahm from the front desk told me I need to buy ticket now for tomorrow's travel, he wrote in Arabic the place I need to go gave me
instructions how to get back here etc. His friend took me with him and drove me to a bus stop, told the driver of the bijou where I am going but the driver forgot about me and when he remembered he stopped and pointed to me where to go, like hell I am gonna walk in this heat, I said no, take me there I dont care how! the people in the bijou talked amongst themselves and then one told me to stay as they get off, and the driver drove on, he dropped me at a roundabout and told me to get on the taxi he pointed, he spoke to the driver where i am going, I left without paying but piad the other driver when I got to the bus station office.
The office was shut! It's 11:30am and the waiters in the restaurant next door in broken English tried to tell me to come back at 3pm bless them for their effort, they wrote it on a piece of paper. I walked across the road and noticed other companies but all offices were shut, annoyed at this I just wanted to get back to the hotel,
I asked a driver of a bijou how to get back, showing him the piece of paper written in Arabic is my destination, I could not understand him! I walked away then a young boy yelled at me pointing to a bijou , I went there and I gave the driver the paper, he nodded and off we go, going to the crater we have to cross this isthmus, both sides of the road flooded with sea water anf flamingoes aboung, pink and gray I think. I got dropped off at another roundabout, was told to hop on another bus going to Aden crater, the driver refused my payment. Found a bijou and it dropped me off at Lulu supermarket where I bought my lunch, then walked back to the hotel.
In the afternoon Brahm walked me to the bijou stop to get back to town and buy the bus ticket, no one stops for me so he told me to walk towards Lulu, I did and there I found an empty bijou and convinced the driver to take me, he was happy to have me, smiling he drove off. I got to the ticketing office and bought my
ticket, there was a crowd but none was queuing, they are all around the booth. At the taxi stand where I asked for directions earlier a bijou is leaving for crater I hopped and was dropped off in the right place. At the hotel I called up Seb a French dude I was supposed to stay with in Aden couch surfing but never got the chance to email him back, he agreed to meet me in the eve.
Seb arrived with a friend, Osama a local. Seb could have hosted me and I could have saved heaps but it's too late now, he is a nice guy, teaching French in a university but works for the French embassy. We walked to the souq and had a meal in a local restaurant, then we said goodbye to each other as he needs to make his lessons for tomorrow.
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