Saturday, 28 June 2008

Day 1: San'aa

I just landed in Yemen, and my first impression is joy at the incredible weather. 20 degrees, it's a welcome break from 35 degree Cairo. But more than that, the air seems incredibly pure and still. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's what it feels like; the atmosphere lacks the vibrancy and fast pace of Cairo.

My flight got in at 2am, and my connecting flight to Seiyum leaves at 8am. A friend of the family kindly invited my family and I to their home, and it turns out Yemeni hospitality eclipses Egyptian hospitality.
(My mother, sister and brother are staying in Tarim too, though they're not part of the Dowra group).

The house smells of bokhoor (incense), and reminds me of Saudi Arabia's Abd El Samad El Qorashi (a famous incense chain). And the dates taste as good as the ones in Mecca too :)

On the way to the house, I realize that everyone is chewing Qat (a marujana like drug which is part of the culture here), and that they're armed. Boys as young as 15 are carrying heavy artillery, and our host shrugs and tells us that that's the norm in Sanaa. Oh, and that daggers do not count as weaponry, since they are simply decoration. Even our host is armed with a silver gun. And wearing a suit jacket over the galabeya seems to be the dress code for men.

Sanaa is so so quiet. Perhaps because it's 3am, but regardless, the lack of people is strange. Houses are all one or two storey buildings, and they're all made of unpainted bricks. Which is why when we came across one of the most beautiful mosques I've seen, President Saleh's mosque, one that cost millions of dollars to build, it seemed all the more beautiful for its uniqueness. I feel like I've stepped back in time. Until I see a billboard advertising Ragheb Alama's new album (a Lebenese singer). Sigh.

And now I hear the first adaan of fajr. And a rooster crowing. Better get a couple of hours of shut eye before I have to get up and continue the last leg of my trip.

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