I have FINALLY made it to the place that I’ve been trying to get to for 3 years. I still can’t believe I’m really here. I wanted to share my first experiences and thoughts with you.
My flights were really long and boring, but I finally made it to the airport in Aden. It was a very small airport, so I was a little confused when half the people went to the passport control line, and the other half were around a table filling out some kind of form. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, and that flight messed with my ears, so I don’t think I could hear out of one of my ears and it was a little distracting. So I finally decide to get in the passport control line, and the guy asks me if I have a visa. I showed him the copy I had of the visa and gave him my passport, but he kept asking for the original. I told him I didn’t have the original, only the copy. He asked who was picking me up and if I had a phone number, so he called my contact who said he’d be at the airport shortly. The principal’s son (Ali) finally arrived to pick me up, and I was able to leave the airport. Ali didn’t drive, we had a driver who I think is a driver for the school who doesn’t speak English. We then had a 3 hour drive back to my city, but we stopped and got breakfast first. I was told that it was actually one of the nicer restaurants.. but it really wasn’t a nice place at all. The building was run down and there were a lot of bugs flying around. I went to the bathroom and there was a squatty potty.. with no toilet paper, so we had to get tissues from the car. When we were about to leave Aden, Ali told me that we have to go through a military checkpoint first and that we’ll have to pull over because I was with them and they’d need to see some documents. We got to the checkpoint and showed them the papers, but it wasn’t enough. We had to get a paper stating that it’s okay for me to travel within the country. Ali said they’ve never had this problem before, and it was probably because I’m American. We had to go to a security office and get the papers, so by the time we left the checkpoint and got back, 2 1/2 hours had passed. It takes a long time to do anything here. We had to go through probably 10-15 more of the checkpoints before we arrived in my city, but we were able to go through them much quicker than the first one. Our driver just told them they had an American with them, and sometimes we had to show them the paper, but a lot of them just waved us on through.
So far, it’s been a pretty good experience. I’ve only met a few of my coworkers, but they’ve been very friendly and helpful. They took me to a restaurant on a mountain, and we had kebab, chicken, and fries. It was pretty good and the view was amazing!
This country has a lot of beauty, but it also has a lot of poverty. There’s trash everywhere, and people are constantly honking and the driving is crazy. There’s also a lot of people walking in the streets where it’s definitely not safe. The power goes out several times a day, but for me it’s not a problem because my school has a back up generator. I knew it was the poorest country in this region, but I didn’t know how poor it actually was.
This will probably be quite an interesting experience!