Back to Yemen!
Sanaa Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
November 15th, 2009 – by: nadiahissin
And here I am in Yemen. Sana'a to be exact. Again!
This is so surreal. Never in a million years would I have imagined my job would take me to such an old city.
The Ancient Romans are said to have called Yemen "Happy Arabia" because of the lucrative spice trade (and, therefore, lots of happy rich people, thank you Wikipedia). It hosts a lot of ancient history, culture and architecture, such as the Mud skyscraper city:
It's cold in Yemen. Nowhere near Canada cold, but definitely enough to make you shiver-currently 14 degrees at night (clearly, I can't take cold anymore).I'm so glad I'm one of those "just in case" packers, and have a simple jacket and pashmina. I'm still f*&%$# cold, but they'll do.
The Quebecois say "Il Frette"; not sure of the exact translation, but "damn it's cold" is good enough.
And it's hard to breathe. We're at a higher altitude than back home (hello, Mountains..), and I'm breathless without having done anything. Did you know that athletes..
The people are lovely, at least the ones at work. The driver who picked me up from the airport put on some Yemeni music, and talked about how all Arabs came from Yemen, "even before Islam" was introduced in the city.
The city is..chaotic..I don't want to be insulting, but the best way to give you a visual is to say it's as if it's gone through a war. The downtown core is probably the worst; there are no traffic lights, and our car was almost smashed into by cars on either end of the intersection-people just go for it.
As my coworker's friend wrote in a short article on Yemeni Traffic/Road signs:
"Red: Be careful, people high on Kat are crossing".
Orange: Get Ready to run over the first clueless person still crossing the road
And that's just how it is.
If you're interested, the magazine is http://www.yoomag.com
FYI, Kat is made from a flowering plant, and is used as a stimulant, although it is banned in the U.A.E, as it is a narcotic.; it is classified by the WHO as a "Drug of Abuse".
And the buildings! Short two to five story buildings, that seem to have been abandoned, as if someone was going to knock it down and then changed their mind. The top stories are empty, and completely gutted out, while the ground level is overrun with makeshift stores, selling everything from tires to the mosaic windwos they're well known for.
At least, they've retained their beautiful old architecture, and not gone for the shiny, new and expensive a La Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
I've got a view of the beautiful rocky mountains, and the city beneath me . I'll be putting up pics as soon I get to my other laptop. This one is ready to die.
The last time I visited, the gals at the office were trying to convince me it was safe to go to Bab al Yemen, which is...the very next day a Korean diplomat was blown up; I forget who took responsibility for it. According to Guy, the security consultant for Yemen:
"You've got Al Qaida, and you've got the Tribes". If the tribes get you, you'll be a political prisoner, and they'll switch you for someone. If Al Qaeda gets you, your head's coming off".
Welcome to Yemen!
That didn't deter me from going out twice, to take photos, have coffee with the girls, etc. I didn't go to Baba al Yemen though. I wasn't allowed out of the compound after the bombing, and I didn't have the appropriate attire anyway.
I don't have to cover up here, which is good. It's bad enough having to wear layers in Canadian weather, I *hate* feeling restricted. Still, long sleeved shirts, jeans and a pashmina don't prevent people from looking at you. I"m not sure why. It's the same in Abs Dabs anyway.
More on Kat from a really interesting travel blog:
Ireally didn't want ot write this blog without putting in a bit of history, but Wikipedia does it so well! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Yemen
Tomorrow, my coworkers are taking me to a party so I can see how Yemeni girls have fun ;)
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