Finally – after having spent several days waiting in Djibouti City – I receive a positive answer when I visit the port office in the morning: there is a boat to Yemen, and it will depart that very evening.
I’m told to come back at 3 pm with bike and bags – apart from me, a Japanese couple, a few Somalians, a Djiboutian and a drunken Ethiopian also arrive. Two hours later, we’re let inside the port area for immigrations control, customs check and boarding.
The small open, wooden boat lies tightly squeezed in the harbor, in-between huge container ships – more resembling one of the cargo ships’ lifeboats. I and the Japanese spread out our brought with mattresses on the upper deck – a simple platform of boards stretching across the stern with the helmsman on a small stool at its very back. The cargo is made out of ”sim sim” – sesame seeds – and to no surprise the cockroaches are both fat and plenty. By the look of the boat, it appears that we are the pirates!
When the Ethiopian man climbs on-board, he positions himself by the gunwale, exultantly un-zips his jacket and shows off the three bottles of St George beer which he’ve fit tightly into his jacket’s inner pockets. A fourth bottle is in his fist, half empty. ”Fuck the Arabs!”, he proclaims loudly, and like the other passengers I ignore him as best I can – better be-friend the Yemeni and moreover Arab chef on-board, I thought, even though the offer of a shared beer felt pretty attractive too.
We depart soon after sun set.
The actual trip between the two continents take longer time than expected. Pretty rough sea, a few seasickness pills and 24 hours later, we reach Aden harbor, but are forced to sleep another night on-board as it is Friday and weekend for the immigration officials on land. I dream myself forward along the road in Yemen – desolate, chalk white beaches, villages that by themselves nearly define the word ‘calm’, and a terrible amount of police escorts as protection against the country’s few but dangerous lunatics.