These following entries have been written on the trip. I just got good internet access, so I am posting them as wirtten.
It’s 5:13 Am, San’a local time, and I felt its time to start my first entry about my trip to Yemen. I woke up to the sound of the fajr azan (call to prayer) something I don’t hear in Hollywood, other than that which goes off from my bedside alarm. I am currently in a hotel called Shimmar, and it feels like I am at my grandfather’s house in Karak. Actually it’s the same feeling I felt yesterday when I was in a city in the south of San’a , called Ibb.
The trip to Yemen from los angeles took about two days. Me and my colleague from work, went into LAX on the 1st of Dec, and we came out of San’a airport on the 3rd. Our flight took us from Los Angeles to London, London to Dubai, Dubai to San’a, and with all the waits and layovers I think it totaled about 33 hours. The trip was not too bad in general, until we got a small shakeup towards our descend to the runway in Yemen. The pilot was either approaching it too quick, or the landing gear wasn’t working right, so as we got very close to touching the runway, the pilot pulled the plane up really quick, and we were back in the air, did one more circle above San’a and then landed safely.
I don’t know if I should talk about San’a airport or if I should leave for you to experience it. But the sound level was very similar to that of a vegetable market, and it was so dim, and I found out that as a Jordanian you actually don’t need a visa to Yemen, which is quite the opposite of what the Yemeni embassy had told me. The passport officer gave me a very strange and unapproving look when he found the Yemeni visa, and he proceeded to give me a lecture about Arab brotherhood and how we as Jordanians are Yemenis in Yemen. Good to know for next time. As for my American friend, he had to wait forever to get his visa.
Eventually we were out of the airport, found our driver and headed to the office we were supposed to meet in. From there I requested we go to Bab Al-Yemen, and Souk Al-Milh, the famous old souk in old San’a. We had a quick hour there, and I can’t even start to describe how amazing this place was. I’ll have to let the pictures speak for themselves. All I have to say that the people were very warm, especially when they found out I am a Jordanian. I guess they aren’t too used to seeing Jordanians with big cameras, since I was being always asked “ What your name?” and told that I am “ Wilcam Wilcam,” which quickly changed to some embraces when my reply was “ Ya hayallah, keef al hal?” Which was always followed with offerings of tea, coffee, and Qat.
From there we went and met with Dr. Jamal, who is heading the project we are working on, and we had a quick but amazing lunch in San’a and started our 4 hour trip to Ibb. Our mode of transportation was the Arabian favorite , Hilux pickup ( aka : Layla 3ilwi), 5 people crammed in it, with equipment and all. Since it was getting dark, we didn’t get to see much of the road, but we got to Ibb in the evening, checked into the Ibb Taj hotel, had dinner, and sat down and chatted. By now the group consisted of myself, Dr. Jamal, our driver Ali, Brendan my Kidz online colleague and Oren, an American photographer.
Our work starts tomorrow, we have three school visits and I am sure its going to be quite an interesting experience.