Wow, where do I begin? Socotra is definitely the most beautiful, unusual place I have ever been to in my life. The island is small and pretty much secluded from the world around it, but in the best way possible! Just imagine being surrounded by the nicest, most welcoming people on a beautiful island that is untouched by modern technology and tourism. Sounds amazing, right? It was. Our driver, Issa, informed me that I was one of the few Americans he had met, as most tourists come from Italy or other parts of Europe; hardly from America. From my experience, America as a whole seems to be pretty cut-off from Yemen aside from what’s been going on in the news lately. This leaves the island to be Yemen’s hidden treasure, completely untouched.
As beautiful as the scenery was, the locals caught my attention the most. I was amazed at how nothing was ever put to waste or used in excess on the island. They barely farm and are foreign to modern architecture, goats and cows roam freely and houses are built out of indigenous trees and stones. Children are given responsibility at young ages and each family member plays a huge role in maintaining the family’s stability. I met a group of young boys at one of the beaches we visited and they were fishing for their family’s lunch and dinner. They were damn good at it, too! They were so full of life and proud of what they were doing, I was amazed. We later picked up three kids who were hitchhiking for a ride back to their village. Since the island is relatively small and pretty much free of crime, it’s not considered a problem for kids to hitchhike since their villages are far spread from schools and local markets. Sitting in the backseat of the car, we spent the entire ride looking and examining each other in awe. One girl opened up her abaya to reveal the blue dress she was wearing underneath, then pointed to my blue jeans; we laughed at our differences, I loved it! We ended up driving 5 kilometers up a steep mountain to get to their village. I was so surprised at how they would have walked it had they not found a ride back home.
I kept wondering how these kids would interact with kids in America, I know both parties would be shocked at how their lifestyles differ. I knew that if they had been given the material and resources to further themselves in a modern industrialized society, they too, would succeed. But, alas, they are happy on their island with their families, living a relatively simple life. I wish I could have spent more time there, four days was not enough at all.