Motoring With Mohammed

by Hansen, Eric

Ten years after being shipwrecked on a remote island off Yemen, Eric Hansen returned to search for the journals he had hastily buried during his rescue by a boat-load of smugglers blown off course. It was an unlikely mission, in an unlikely country, compounded by the island’s being in a military zone. For, as Hansen discovered, Yemen is caught somewhere between the Middle Ages and our own technocratic times. It is a nation whose capital, San’a, is a collection of Babel-like medieval towers; a tribal society where arguments are settled by gun-fire, and where the majority of the male population spend their lives in a daze, chewing hallucinogenic qat-leaves. It is a country that harbours hostages, missionaries, expatriates, refugees – and Mohammed, the guide who turns Hansen’s first attempt to rescue his notebooks into a sheep-buying expedition. This is Hansen’s account of the mission.