Little Adventures in Yemen
Finding love is challenging under the best of circumstances, but the stakes are even higher when you’re a young, female expat living in a conflict zone.
Little Adventures in Yemen follows the misadventures of a stubborn humanitarian aid worker navigating life and love in Sana’a. From a local boy facing an arranged marriage to a fugitive mercenary posing as a dentist, her romances are doomed from the start, none more so than her love for Yemen, which makes her blind to its growing dangers.
Yemen is a very peculiar place. Mix chaos, poverty, strong traditions, tribes, and weapons … et voila! You have it.
But the fact is, Yemeni people are the most humble and good-hearted people on Earth. After years living there, I still found Yemen fascinating, unbelievable, surprising, annoying, and unique. The truth is, there was not a single day I didn’t love and hate it, because Yemen gives you as much as it takes, and sometimes it takes a lot.
Adventure 1: Mr. Local
In the first adventure, a young Yemeni wins my heart. We travel the country in disguise and begin to fall fast for one another.
But the spell is broken when I discover he is facing an arranged marriage and is unwilling to challenge his family or status quo.
Adventure 2: Stubborn Engineer
In my second adventure, I meet a Turkish engineer with a thick beard and a very bad attitude. Despite being diametrically opposed in almost every way, we can’t seem to walk away from each another.
As tensions between us rise, so too does the tension in Sana’a where expats are becoming targets of violent attacks.
Adventure 3: The Killer
In the third adventure, I bump into a dentist of pale face and refined manners who turns out to be a former killer with persecutory delusion. What starts as a whimsical flirtation becomes an ominous mystery as I try to figure out what is real.
Meanwhile, life is changing in Sana’a where wearing abbaya and niqab have become the norm in order to not be identified as foreigners.
Adventure 4: Mr. Special Forces
In the fourth adventure, a Viking-sized elite soldier with addiction issues and a dark secret comes into the picture. Though he and his team are armed to the teeth, they are clumsy and culturally unaware.
His follies are even more dangerous at a time when kidnappings and explosions have become commonplace.
Adventure 5: The Diplomat
In my final adventure, I meet a powerful diplomat with a charismatic personality who is much older than I am. Despite our differences, we fall in love, but history is destined to repeat itself.
The dangers of living in Yemen hit close to home, and I must say one last goodbye.
… and I never saw her again. She never showed up to the reunion point. Why? Ma chérie!
I told her, too many butterflies… but hey, it eventually turned into a beautiful book!
Author: Franca Sol
Franca Sol is a Middle East based writer and humanitarian worker.
She has lived and worked in Oman, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, where she is currently based. Her background is in Intercultural Affairs, specialized in the Middle East.
Little Adventures in Yemen is her debut novel.
Illustrator: Sarah Aljoumari
Sarah Aljoumari is a Yemeni illustrator and a blogger. Sarah was born in Yemen and moved to the United States of America when she was 14 years old.
Her work has a broad popular appeal among Yemeni Americans through Instagram for their reflection of both Yemeni and American cultures.
Editor: Felicia Campbell
Felicia Campbell is an award-nominated writer, editor, and producer.
She is the author of The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia, the first English-language Omani culinary history; and the forthcoming memoir, Chasing Iraqi Chicken.
She now works with authors, providing developmental editing and coaching for book-length projects.