Tuatara

Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
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18 December 2013 | Auckland
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13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

Eating Out in Yemen

08 March 2010 | Aden, Yemen
Jean
Eating, Yemen style.

Negotiating the new restaurants, food and eating out rules of a new country is always a mixture of fun and uncertainty. It has been no different in Yemen some things the same some things different than other countries. Here roti is not flat bread but French stick type bread and flat bread is called hobbs, that is how it sounds I don't know how its spelt.

The first day we were in Al Mukalla was the first day of eating out in Yemen, no restaurants at Ra's Sharma. On our first day over half of Mukalla town was closed as there seemed to be a national strike on. After traipsing around finding laundries, money changers and functioning ATM machines we were a hungry group with no obvious restaurant in sight. Someone asked a nearby man where was a place we could eat. He took us down any alley through to the next road to a small restaurant. We would have missed it, there were no tell tale tables outside and no signage, not that any of us could read Arabic! He stayed and acted as translator and waiter to make sure we all got what we wanted. There wasn't a big choice, chicken and rice or egg and cheese sandwiches, the locals seemed to know to ask for other things but we got a choice of two. The draw of westerners eating local attracted an increase of customers, I am sure the takings would have been up for the day. As we finished our lunch our kind guide disappeared off down the road to carry on with whatever he did normally.

Cruisers know how to scope out a town quickly and by next morning the VHF was abuzz with instructions about where to find bakeries, internet, functioning ATMs etc. Mahe our agent had a town outskirts tour arranged for the afternoon. So we had the morning to wander around the old town and find lunch. Joanne and Selwyn from Morning Cloud had found the ice cream shop, a bakery full of hot crisp French sticks and talked to the only other tourist in town about the best restaurant in town. He was Italian and they know their food so we took the recommendation seriously. By the time we wandered through the old town it was lunchtime and there was the fish restaurant we were looking for. The place was still shut for midday prayers but we waited a few minutes and it opened. Eleven of us sat down at a long table by the busiest roundabout in town, the waiter covered the table with newspaper. Newspaper is what is used for table cloths here, this particular one was The Straits Times from Singapore, any thought of reading up to date news went by the way when we saw the date, June 2008! The benefit of newspaper table cloths are many, good for wiping hands on without offending anyone, you can tear a bit off to hold your hot glass of tea so it doesn't burn and there is no laundry to do. The menu here was one thing fish and flat bread. The bread and fish are cooked in an oven similar to a tandori oven. Huge round flat breads are slapped on the side of the oven and pieces of fish are lowered down into the oven to cook to perfection. A small side dish of, I think, cucumber, tomato and yogurt dip. Rod Heikell talked of this meal when we met him in Galle, except when he was here over ten years ago they were cooking whole fish on the side of the oven now its just pieces. A moist chunk of fish each and a huge bread shared between two with the dip made a fantastic meal. The bread was so big that there was no room to read the newspaper even if it had been up to date.

After our tour around Mukalla we had dinner in a chicken restaurant. Rotisserie chickens are a popular food in this part of the world and like the fish they know how to cook them so they stay moist and succulent. There was a choice between chicken and rice or chicken and bread. We decided on rice and as were not really hungry after our big lunch, Alan and I shared one meal. One meal was half a chicken and a large plate of rice and a salad. When we saw the size of it we were pleased we had only ordered one. Although those who ordered one meal each had a doggy bag of chicken to take home for lunch the next day.

Eating out is a male thing here ... well most things are male things here. So it always causes a bit of a stir when we arrive in a place to eat, men and woman eating together. A very few places have family rooms where woman eat, I think that is the intention as we haven't seen a woman eating out yet. The ice cream place we stopped at on our tour had a family room and a mens room... no not a toilet, a mens eating room. We could have done with a toilet there as well but no such luck. Finding toilets for women is another story all on its own.

Here in Aden the restaurants are a little different and a little the same. Newspaper on the table, hot sweet tea in glasses, egg and cheese sandwiches on fresh rolls and hobbs /flat bread to eat with. Did I mention no spoons or forks, just fingers and remember the right hand only. The first place we ate at here we just went in for tea and an afternoon snack. Well the snack turned into dinner, two things on the menu this time. The choice was between a dish of hot tasty beans and a dish of hot meat and vegetables to be scooped up with bread. The beans or meat were cooked in a flurry of flames and served in the small frying pans they were cooked in. Newspaper also saves the table from being scorched. There was 8 of us so why not try a dish of each, by the time we got to the end of the first 2 dishes we decided to order some more then with all the talking, eating, reordering, talking to the locals on the next table. Day had turned into night and we found we had had dinner. A delicious dinner for two for $NZ3.

At night the towns come to life, the restaurants spill onto the street, vegetable markets provide a splash of colour in the night light, fish glisten under street lights, huge pieces of yellow fin tuna are sliced into chunks to be taken home to cook, the smell of fresh bread wafts out of small bakeries. The quat sellers sit on their iron beds selling the leaf and stuffing their own cheeks with the mind numbing drug that all the men here seem to spend the family money on.

The only thing is I can't find a decent cup of coffee anywhere except on Tuatara.
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Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ