Discovering the Wild Beauty of Yemen & its Waves with Chas Smith

I used to want to become a journalist. You know, change the world with the truth & nothing else but the truth. Sadly, my naïve 17-year-old mind quickly realized that sometimes, the truth can’t be shared. Or at least, superiors don’t want you to share it, especially when it involves political issues. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

Chas Smith, co-founder of BeachGrit!, author of Welcome To Paradise, Now Go To Hell & surf journalist, recently started writing about Yemen. I started reading his prologue concerning the subject unexpectedly & quickly got drawn to it. Somehow, I understood how he felt about the whole situation and how powerless it could make someone feel: to know that something wrong is happening but that no one seems to care. That no media are covering the subject as the lives of these people aren’t supposed to be of our concern. That judgments are made simply because it’s easier to judge and fear rather than understand.

Sana'a's old city pre-war. Credit: Chas Smith, BeachGrit!

I am not going to pretend that I have enough skills to write about what’s happening in Yemen because I don’t. I’ve never been there and I seriously don’t know what’s truly happening. What I can do, though, is to share with you Chas Smith’s stories about this place, its culture and its people… I hope his journey is going to inspire more than a few to give a chance to a country that got judged way too hard, way too quick. And don’t worry—it involves surfing too.

As Chas Smith wrote:

“Between a massive American shift toward identity politics and Presidential incompetence and terrorist attacks in Spain and ignorant babbling on the right and panicked screeching on the left, it all feels like a mess.

The thing that gets me most, though, isn’t happening in North America or Europe and it isn’t on the front page of any American newspaper and nobody is ignorantly babbling or panically screeching about it.

It’s happening in Yemen where Saudi Arabia, for no even halfway good reason and with the United States’ support, has bombed the country into the worst humanitarian crisis in the entire world. And today it was revealed that the Saudis are targeting children with their bombs.

Credit: Chas Smith, BeachGrit!

And it crushes me. I’ve been to Yemen six or so times in my life. It was where I got my start as a ‘surf journalist’ writing the worst thing ever for Australia’s Surfing Life. It was there I first shot an AK-47. There I first shook hands with a man affiliated with Al-Qaeda. There I first saw a tree bleed. That initial trip was from Sana’a, the capital, down to Aden and then along the entire coast, for three months, all the way to Oman.

Subsequent trips involved riding motorcycles from edge to edge, driving a Land Rover from edge to edge and sailing along its Red Sea coast.

It was always wild, magical, brilliant. Untethered. Yemen is not blessed/cursed with oil like its Arabian peninsula neighbors and has a rough, independent people so was mostly left alone over the last few centuries. My three friends and I were the first white men ever seen in some of those far off towns. At the time I thought it was a fun footnote. Today I think I am one of the few westerners on earth who know what Yemen really is. Like, really really is, and I have a responsibility to say something about its destruction.”

Click here to read the whole Prologue
Chapter 1
 Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

Ever been to Yemen? What do you think of the current situation? 
Comment below! 
Up next: Above and Below—Tales of Sri Lanka