And finally YEMEN!

It’s 4 am in the morning and I’m taking the taxi direction Beirut airport. After year and a half in the city I’m leaving behind so many friends, parties, tabboulehs[1], broken hearts! But it is time to head to my next destination: Yemen. Not without fighting one more time with a taxi driver (it wouldn’t be Beirut if not!) I arrive to the airport without much trouble and much of the typical Beirut traffic but… surprise! Apparently the ticket I bought online from the national and highly trustable Yemeni airways apparently is… non-existent! After negotiating and negotiating with the manager of Yemenia (madam, it’s the middle of the revolution, why do you want to go there?!) I manage to get a seat. Boarding pass in hand I successfully go through all the immigration controls.

With and exit stamp in my Lebanese visa and bye bye Beirut in my mind I arrive in front of the gate. My mind is full of mix feelings, I tell myself “the past stays behind, a new adventure is about to start”… but when for a second I land in planet earth I realize that in the screen in front of me is written in big red lines: DELAY. My flight has been delayed for 6 hours! What! And I cannot get in the country anymore to enjoy a last Almaza[2] because that good-looking soldier has put a big EXIT in my visa! So during 6 hours I am stuck in one of the little uncomfortable chairs of little uncomfortable Beirut airport.

Finally the plane takes off and my new destination seems closer. The plane is almost empty and the bunch of teen stewardesses (almost more than passengers) plays along the corridors of the plane and laugh loudly. But I don’t mind… I am going to Sana’a! Or that was I thought.. A couple of hours after our departure the captain makes the first brilliant announcement of the day: we are doing an unexpected landing in… Damascus. Apparently Yemenia just decided to join the Beirut and Damascus flight without previous notice to the passengers. It is not that I have something against doing surprise stops on my way but… in Damascus! With all what is going on in there! Thank you but my passport is not the most appropriate to land there at the moment!

Night time, we reach Damascus,, a whole city in darkness, with only a few explosions bringing some color to the sky. The new passengers start getting in and in short the flight is full. Yemeni students, Yemeni workers, Yemeni families, all fleeing Syria to return home.

The trip continues and the Syrian airspace remains finally behind us. Bloody tires, I fall asleep till the captain makes his second brilliant announcement: There is a sand storm in Sana’a, we cannot land, therefore we need to go till Aden, in the south of Yemen and see if, maybe, we are more lucky there and we can land. Sand! Storm! Sandstorm! Really? It has to be today? Aden might be nice, next to the sea… but my arrival visa is in Sana’a airport! No way I can enter the country without it… but what can I do? To whom I can complain? To the bunch of youngsters stewardesses to be having the time of their lives playing in the corridors of the plane!

(Un) fortunately, the captain changes his mind. We are going to land in Sana’a. Yemenia airplanes are from the soviet time so they should resist a Saudi sand storm according to him. Landing takes places and miraculously my suitcase with all my beloved memories from Beirut inside arrives. I take it with decision, 16h late I am finally in Sana’a. To pick up my visa is the only missing step and I hope my new company, which brings a poor girl alone to Sana’a in the middle of the Revolution, would have taken care of that.

“Visa? Which visa?” is the answer of the scary officer at the immigration post. “No one brought any visa here for you! What is the exact purpose of your trip, madam?” And from his eyes acquiring a suspicious look directly to interrogation room. That’s the end of the worst trip of my life. How I manage to get out of there and eventually entering the country is another story!

O Aymerich

[1] Traditional Lebanese salad
[2] Local beer brand

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