Origami of used toilet paper (and nude sunbathing flatmates)
Sanaa Travel Blog› entry 15 of 38 › view all entries
I arrived in Sanaa after four flights (two of which were full and uncomfortable) ... firstly from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, then to Hong Kong, then to Dubai and then finally Sanaa.
- I had a 10 hour transit in Hong Kong which I put to good use by going to the city for the hardest (best) massage in my life.
- But the transit in Dubai was just a tad over the minimum connection time ... enough to grab a bottle of bubbly from the Duty Free. If I had known Sanaa customs would be so lax with grog, I would have got the full allowance of two litres :-(
I was met at the airport by Marie (my host-to-be) and my my new teacher. We immiediately called by my new school (YIAL, Yemen Institute of Arabic Language) to formalise my course arrangements.
Then off to my home for the next month! Marie had rented the top two floors of an old Yemeni home, complete with modern bathrooms and a terrace overlooking allotments used for growing vegetables. My room was very nicely set up already meaning I didn't have to buy blankets, pillows etc. She had actually bought me a blanket with a teddy bear ... I will decline to give that bear a name in case I end up in jail as in the case of that English teacher in Sudan!
Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding there is no spare room and Marie has moved into the mafraj or Yemeni penthouse lounge.
There is a small price to pay for being in a historic building:
- Despite the modern bathrooms, the plumbing (as in Greece) aren't set up for toilet paper. As in some parts of Europe, we have a bin next to the bog ... I've taken up origami of used toilet paper before depositing them in the bin ... for aesthetics and hygiene reasons.
- Much of the hallways are very low ... I cannot stand up straight. And doors are about shoulder height. Instead of walking around, there is a lot of shuffling around in a stooped fashion.
- I have to plan my movements carefully (eg. to buy water, to let the teacher in etc) as I'm four floors up without lifts .
Our top flat is shared with a German girl ... a semi-separate lower flat is let out to two American girls. There's been a bit of bother because some of our flatmates like to sunbathe in the nude. This is a problem with a male Yemeni (our teacher) spending so many hours in the house each day for lessons.
In fact, with the teacher coming, we have to announce his arrival to ensure that our flatmates are adequately covered (eg. legs, shoulders or arms if they feel the need) even if they're not sunning the privates. In fact, in this region some houses are equipped with a door knocker for men and a separate one for women. Residents can discern from the sound of the tap as to whether the visitor is male or female and cover-up appropriately.