Jordan 2008!

After Jordan 2006, and Yemen 2007 comes the much anticipated return to Jordan 2008!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Back and backwards

I'm back in the middle east and a little further away from western civilization. I've seen a few of my favorite things from Jordan, fewer American comforts, and plenty of new things. A few notes about Yemen:

Haggling: Yes, as per tradition in the rest of the Middle East, people DO haggle prices, but being that Yemen is the poorest Arab country, I will generally leave the haggling to the Arabs because I find it laughable to argue over a quarter. $1 = 200 Yemeni riyals
Food: Actually really good! I've been through the mandatory day-and-a-half of crapping every hour and a half, but now that my stomach has accepted the new Yemeni bacteria, I can eat like a king! There are restaurants here that would be considered really good restaurants in the states and you can still pay less than 5 bucks to eat there. AWESOME. They even have a pretty good variety: Chinese, Lebanese, Yemeni, Thai, Korean, American, and Ethiopian restaurants are all available.

Weapons: Every Yemeni man who can call himself a man carries a HUGE knife called a Jambiyya. Most of them are really dull and just represent a tribal symbol. outside of the capitol, Yemen has the highest AK-47 per capita ratio in the world if there is such a statistic. I was just two seconds too late to get a picture of two 7-10 year old children each holding a fully automatic weapon. This is mostly for show. In America, men drive giant, loud, gas guzzling vehicles to show there manliness. Since cars are kind of expensive, people here just adorn their person with a variety of tools of destruction. I actually saw a man the other day sitting on a sheep hide draped over a motorcycle, with an AK-47 strapped to his back, his GIANT knife under his belt, and on his right arm sat a HAWK. I can think of nothing manlier than that. I'm growing a beard just so I can measure up even a little.

Qat: This is an ordinary looking leaf with extraordinary powers. It's a semi-narcotic leaf that everyone here chews from 2:00 till about 8:00. It serves to relax the nerves, suppress the appetite, (which is fortunate since the average citizen spends about a third of their income on Qat and can therefore not afford as much food), increase focus (so the Yemenis say), and cease general productivity to a total halt. It is quite common to see someone with a softball-sized wad of Qat in his mouth not working at all or to see the really innovative ones letting a camel do the work. This camel powers an oil grinder by walking around in circles. Pretty awesome.
Anyway, I expect the craziness to continue and I'll do my best do document every bit of it.