I was planning to do my hop over to Yemen today, but looking at the bus schedules I thought better of it. I could get the 9:30am bus there, but getting back would be a nightmare… there very well might not be a bus back until Friday. So I figure I’ll stay in Salalah and keep scouting around for ships going to Eritrea… or The Seychelles.
I headed off to the Port to speak to the contact I had made yesterday, Robert Phillips. Unfortunately he was stuck in meetings, but he suggested I speak to the wonderful Cyril Van Der Merwe, the owner of the Oasis Club and Salalah Port’s own resident Yoda.
The Club was just closing after lunch, so I went up on the rocky bluff that overlooks the port and enjoyed the cooling sea breeze that is heralding the start of the Indian Monsoon season. I spoke to the lovely Lorna Brookes, as always eager to help when and wherever shipping is concerned. Afterwards I chatted to Mandy, an ocean away in Australia, just 12 hours flight away, but 6 months (at least) via the now extraordinarily round-about route of The Odyssey.
It wasn’t meant to go down like this. I should have got to The Seychelles from Madagascar and I should have entered Eritrea from Djibouti, but world events that were outside my control stepped in and barred my way. And so I sat there looking out to sea wondering where the next stage of the journey will take me and if the pieces of the puzzle will ever fall into place.
Later I returned to The Oasis and managed to speak to Cyril. He was awesomely helpful and arranged for one of his guys to pick me up tomorrow morning from the town and take me to see the port agents. Later on in the evening I was just about to leave when I got chatting to a group of Brits – one of them, Luke, looked at me funny and asked me if I had sent him a CouchSurf request – which I had. Well – the couch is there if you want it. Marvellous! Saves Luke an email and me a trip back into town… another round chaps?
After closing time me and my newfound buddies, Luke, Dave and Pat (a world-weary American with a kickass yankie drawl) headed out to their apartment by the beach. There we sat until the wee small hours on the balcony enjoying drinks and banter as the tide which waits for no man ebbed and flowed on the Arabian sands below.
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Though the Jeddah-Massawa ferry may be fictitious, you may still be able to get in from Saudi Arabia (unless you’re going to the Seychelles, of course). Any private boats leaving from Saudi Arabia can simply apply for a special permit (to refuel and get supplies) upon arrival in the ports of Massawa or Assab only. Just to be sure, you should call up the Eritrean Embassy in London for any other information. If you can find a sailboat in Jeddah that’s willing to take you for a day or two, you could be in and out very quickly. Good luck.
First of all, make sure you know what area you are arriving in before applying for a visa. The Massawa/Dahlek Islands are your best choice. Though private yachts in Jeddah may be hard to find, there are many diving boats that travel into the Red Sea often. Also, Sadaka Shipping Lines and Eritrean Shipping Lines both travel between Jeddah and Massawa. They usually only serve Muslim pilgrims, but it isn’t impossible for you to get on one.
Sadaka Shipping Lines:
PO Box 1478
Eritrean Shipping Lines
Semaetat Ave. no. 74/3
Tel : 291-1-120359 / Fax : 291 1 120331
P.O. Box 1110