I’m finally on the island! Yes, it is paradise.
I haven’t been able to write anything about my trip to Yemen (and Paris), but I’ll offer a quick summary. Yemen is HOT.
In all seriousness, it is very, very, uncomfortably hot. Nonetheless, I had an incredible time getting to know the city of Aden and the extinct volcanic crater in which it sits with my friend Matt, who lives there. I hope winter comes soon for him.
And now, I have settled into the house of an English Teacher I’ll be working with for the next 7 months on the south coast of the island. On the day of my arrival, apparently the very active volcano on the southeast coast began to rumble and the vigilance of local authorities has been heightened towards detecting possible eruptions in the near future. Some sources are calling for an “imminent” eruption. The last eruption was less than a year ago (in January) and lasted approximately 10 days, spewing rocks and lava here and there but not affecting life on the island at all. This seems to be normal?? Here’s an article in French: http://www.lequotidien.re/actualites/en-direct/139118-le-volcan-bouge-encore.html
Speaking of imminent eruptions, I am reminded of the concern one of Matt’s friends in Aden expressed over social and political instability in South Yemen. It is an unfortunate and volatile situation that hopefully will not end in violence. In short, South Yemen was an independent country under a communist regime until unification with North Yemen in 1991. Since then, the capital has been located in Sana’a in the north, and citizens of the south have not responded well to northern control, including a bloody civil war in 1994. There is much more to the story that I do not know about, but recent events in the Hawta region of the South are alarming (see NYTimes article here http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/world/middleeast/22yemen.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=Yemen&st=cse). Despite all that, Matt made an interesting observation that he sees nothing on the ground there to suggest that there is any kind of building unrest. Hopefully that is a good sign that, unlike the crater on Reunion, the crater in Yemen will remain quiet.