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Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea
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Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,442 ratings  ·  122 reviews
In 1978 Eric Hansen found himself shipwrecked on a desert island in the Red Sea. When goat smugglers offered him safe passage to Yemen, he buried seven years' worth of travel journals deep in the sand and took his place alongside the animals on a leaky boat bound for a country that he'd never planned to visit.

As he tells of the turbulent seas that stranded him on the islan
Paperback, 264 pages
Published February 4th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1991)
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,442 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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Jacob Overmark
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yemen was on my bucket list for decades … and I did not go when I had the chance ...

It has all the "Arabic mystery" you could dream of, a fascinating history and an abundance of historic relics, more or less untouched.

Regrettably not anymore. Years of unrest after first the split into a North- and a South Yemen and then the relatively succesful reunion has not brought out the best in people - or their neighboring countries.
Situated in a geopolitical strategic sphere, watching the entry to The Re
Alex Klaushofer
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Beautifully-written book that gets under the skin of a little-known country.
Nov 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: walks, 1990s
In 1978 Eric Hansen was shipwrecked on a tiny island off the coast of northern Yemen. While his fellow castaways frolicked carelessly in their new-found playground, Hansen worried over who might rescue them. Pirates and terrorists topped his list. So, he decided to bury deep in the sand his most valued possessions: travel journals recording a decade of vagabondage. When deliverance in the form of Eritrean goat smugglers arrived, Hansen thought it best to leave his precious books hidden, hoping t ...more
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of THE best travelogs I have ever read. Hansen travels through Yemen in search of his lost travel logs from an earlier visit. I was absolutely in awe of the nuanced description of life in Yemen - replete with the usual cultural markers. There is this one piece (just to give you one example among the many) in the book about an Arab funeral which was narrated with such heart and passion. At the end of the funeral, while he does not grieve for the person for whom the funeral was held, he ends u ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book.

Yemen is not a place that many people have gone, and certainly not a place from which great scenes, great stories, and great descriptions seem to emanate; however, in the hands of Eric Hansen, Yemen is just that place. He goes to Yemen, the first time, by accident, and is one of those travelers who finds people both fascinating and funny. He stays for awhile, returns home, and is haunted by the fact that he, a writer, has left behind his notebooks. He needs those notebooks.
John Machata
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the best travel books of all time!
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Now for something completely different!
Motoring with Mohammed turned out to be quirky book containing a series of stories about living and travelling in Yemen around 1990. Lots of really interesting (and many surprising!) insights about Arabic Muslim culture, society - and food! However, it was a slow moving story, and I found it a bit hard to keep on going all the way to the end.
Oct 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: travelogue, memoir, 2013
Man. This guy has lived an amazing life. Or, at least, he alludes to more interesting stuff. Not that this isn't plenty interesting. He gets to Yemen the first time via shipwreck (in the 1970s). And that's a bizarre thing. Then he goes back looking for notebooks he left there. And, just, the bizarre and strange things that happen. (And it's a pretty thin book.)

While reading this, I vaguely thought I'd read another book on Yemen, because I distinctly remember the whole tradition of dudes chewing
Sometimes I really enjoyed this book. Since I know nothing about Yemen, it was very interesting. I kept wondering how much the country may have changed since 1991 when the book was first published. THe author's experiences certainly do not sound like these people are part of the "evil empire" at all, but generally welcoming and fun loving. One of my favorite lines refers to being able to solve a dispute with a poetry contest in the old days. But sometimes I was frustrated with the author. I acti ...more
It took me awhile to finish this book. Life intervened! I really liked the first part where he describes his original trip to Yemen and how he lost the notebooks. The middle section, when he's trying to get the notebooks back and failing, is good, but by its nature it meanders. Each section was interesting, but it lacked much forward momentum.
Parts of it were more interesting than others, but overall, I really enjoyed it. Would I recommend it? Yes, but you have to know what you are in for. It is
Dec 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Wow - Just back from a camping trip in Oman, my first real taste of the middle east, reading this just makes me want more...

A chap sails from the maldives, gets stranded off Yemen, gets rescued by Ethiopian goat smugglers and returns to Yemen 10 years later to try and locate his travel journals (from his 7 years of travelling) that he buried on the beach when he was rescued.

Travel writing at its very best, insightful, philosophical, emphatic,informative and above all pretty damm funny!

Sep 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A friend recommended this book by Eric Hansen for a trip to Indonesia -- I was supposed to have picked up his 'Stranger in the Forest', but aboard the plane was 'stuck' with a story about a boondoggle shipwreck with buddies in the 70s in Yemen, and happily so. Supposedly true of all Hansen's books -- he seeks adventure in order to write about it. Great dose of humor made this my favorite travel book so far.
Sharazade Sharazade
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Travel writing at its best--plenty of cultural insights and details, and an engaging (and humorous) story to boot; several engaging stories, actually, since the book covers two separate journeys to Yemen 10 years apart.

I've been to Yemen, and his observations rang true to me--qat chewers, bureaucrats & their regulations, oddball expats, desert landscapes, islands, the remarkable Yemeni hospitality.
Apr 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a great insight into Yemen from a point of view that was a true travel experience. It makes me want to learn more about this beautiful old country
Nov 03, 2015 rated it liked it
A decent read, particularly the part about the shipwreck and rescue. Not a great title.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! Thanks to Laura Puryear for sharing this look at a more peaceful Yemen. The author had brilliant descriptions of his travails and travels and I loved his quest for his lost journals.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of Eric Hansen's books i read and i was hooked!!
Bob Newman
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Digging Yemen

Imagine a little New England breakfast joint by a November harbor, a piping hot cup of coffee and a perfect, fresh doughnut on a cold, rainy morning. It's a central moment. You feel satisfied with life as you look out onto the empty gray harbor where one or two lobster boats still rock in the chill breeze. Maybe you could call it a "Goldilocks Moment" when things are j-u-u-ust right. MOTORING WITH MOHAMMED is a travel book like that. If you want to read about Yemen, about some great
Virginia Pommerening
This book wasn't quite what I expected. What I was expecting was some level of amazing travels over Yemen. This book does have a certain amount of it, but what beautiful travel there is, is greatly overshadowed by the attempts to deal with bureaucracy. Honestly, the book really gets bogged down in the details about who was talked to in attempts to get permits to get to this place that then required him to talk to yet another person and so on. And then there are gems like his descriptions of the ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eric Hansen is a great writer about his wanderings in little-explored parts of the world. His book just prior to this one: Stranger in the Forest, is about trekking through the wilds of Borneo. After that trip, he is shipwrecked off the coast of Yemen (yes, really!) and he is forced to bury his manuscript pages for Stranger in the Forest under the sands of a remote Yemeni beach. This book relates what happens next, and his struggles to return to the beach and retrieve his precious manuscript. It ...more
Kevin Tole
All putative travel writers should read Hansen's book.

THE Perfect travel book without being a travel book. Hansen knows how to take himself seriously by not taking himself seriously. It's the story and methodology of the Yemen. many many travel writers could learn from him.

Sad to think that now the country has been bombed and starved back to the middle ages again by it's croesus-like wealthy neighbour.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting travel log from a man who, ten years after being ship wrecked on a small island in the Red Sea, returns in an attempt to find his long lost notebooks, that he had buried while stranded to keep them safe. Lots of interesting, if somewhat disjointed stories of the people he met, their adventures, customs and conditions in Yemen in the late 1980.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this book if you want to know Yemen as it was in the late eighties when the author, a skillful traveler and knowing a smattering of Arabic, returns in search of his lost journals. A fast read with a little too much detail in the beginning which lays out the scene he will revisit ten years later. (Now I want a book that will bring me up to date.)
Mark Isaak
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A travelogue (essentially) which gives a good feeling for Yemeni culture. Though one chapter dragged, the incidents described and language describing them held my interest well.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting and Iblearned a lot about Yemeni culture and food in 1988.
Jeremy Hopkins
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty sure I read it
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Got a bit long when the story goes from a quest to just touring around
Despite more than a passing interest in geography, in places, and in the varieties of human experience, I’ve never been a big fan of travel writing. Part of the problem may just be that I am not crazy about travel itself. Travel broadens, as we all know, but it also narrows: a traveler generally travels to places that appeal to his or her interests and beliefs, and then concludes from this experience that the world is more or less in line with what was expected.

Then too, the reports of a travel
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I buy books like a cook, which I am stocks the pantry with essentials. I've had Motoring awaiting its position in my reading queue.
As a person who has an insatiable interest in other cultures, my Yemen - recently provoked by renewed Silk Road interest as I pinned on my Pinterest board. My Yemeni appetite was satisfied with this read.
Hansen is a good author, in that he takes the reader along - non-assuming as we explore the culture.
In today's ever shrinking world, it is vital to understand ethn
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book - book 2 of 2016 - ultimately left me disappointed.

The book details the story of Hansen's shipwreck on the Yemeni coast in the 1970s and his subsequent attempts ten years later to recover notebooks which he had buried shortly before being rescued.

I really enjoyed the writing detailing the shipwreck and the events immediately thereafter. However, the vast bulk of the book, based his time back in Yemen ten years later, is far less interesting. I think ultimately the story can be summar
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Eric Hansen is a travel writer, most famous for his book Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo, about a 4,000 km trek through the heartland of Borneo. He lives in San Francisco. For 25 years he has traveled throughout Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Nepal, and Southeast Asia.