Wednesday, May 26, 2010

9:27 AM - No comments

Guests of the City

I’ve mentioned a time or two I’m not a good traveler. I do NOT like to fly. But I like to go see stuff. I like to go visit people. (Funny thing about when I go visit people… I can’t warn them ahead of time. I just have to show up so I don’t give them time to plan an escape…).

Now when I decide to go “see” stuff, I guess I like to places where others go as well. We go to the beach. We go to museums. We go see the Mouse. Sometimes we plan trips around certain restaurants. A cruise. Various things in various places.

But I read recently where some tourists had been kidnapped while vacationing. Now don’t lose sleep. The seven Dwarfs have not gone rogue. The Grand Canyon has not been overrun by Al Qaeda. Not yet, anyway. And Hawaiian natives are not snatching tourists at Diamond Head.

No… this couple was in that romantically beautiful getaway of Yemen. Yes… Yemen. First off… as you read this, without looking anywhere, without using Google, just off the top of your head… try to imagine where Yemen is. Yeah… I had a vague idea, but still had to look to make sure.

Yemen has been in the news a good bit lately. And normally, when it’s in the news, it’s not for a good reason. They haven’t won an environmental prize. They haven’t discovered the cure for cancer. They haven’t invented a fat-free chocolate. Their VERY deserving President hasn’t won the Nobel Peace Prize. (Where did that LAST one come from)?

So when I’m thinking of some place to go and vacation, I tend to think of places where I can relax… kick back… have no worries… partake in a cold adult beverage… laugh with friends… and just let the stress settle. (Yes… I live a VERY stressful life. I have to watch the grass grow and know when it reaches the optimum growth point so I can call the guy that cuts it. VERY stressful. And I have to keep all the “stuff” outta the pool. Again… VERY stressful).

Needless to say, when I’m thinking of a vacation paradise, Yemen is not high on my list. Now when this subject came up, I did my homework and Googled it. There were quite a few hits. One was the Wikipedia with info, history, yada… yada… yada… One was the “official” CIA site about “do not travel here under threat of death.” And one was the “official” Yemen Tourism site.

I kid you not. One of the most dangerous spots in the world has a web site encouraging people to come and visit. “Forget all bad things you hear. Beheadings are quick… not much pain. You come to visit… we promise explosive time.” I’m just not sure I can trust the Minister of Tourism, Nabil Hassen Al-Fakih. If that ain’t an Al Qaeda name, I don’t know what is. Now if he was Nabil Jim-Bob Al-Fakih Smith, we might be in business.

I liked one of their “selling” points… “Yemen is Arabia's undiscovered gem.” Well DUHHHH! I wonder why that is? You visit… you die. Everything stays undiscovered.
They also offer day trips to Socotra Island, inhabited by fishermen (Al Qaeda) of African origin, using African huts (and AK-47s) and Nomads of Arab origin (Al Qaeda on the run).

So back to the kidnapped couple. “Security Officials” said the two had been kidnapped by tribal gunmen. The “security officials”, a taxi driver and tribesmen, said the couple were removed from the taxi and taken to a nearby village where they were now “guests” of the village.

I’m not sure what being a kidnapped “guest” of the village entails in Yemen. For some reason, that was glaringly overlooked on the Ministry of Tourism site. I would think a key to the village might be in order. Maybe being the guest of honor at a dinner… where you are the main dish?

If I ever end up vacationing in Yemen, I might opt for the optional day trip across the bay to a safe location. I saw Somalia was just a boat ride away. But in all seriousness, when I go to plan a trip, I try to stay on the main path. If Drew Carey doesn’t give away a trip to the location on “The Price is Right,” my butt ain’t going there.

And that’s MY take.

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