San’aa

I’m in San’aa for one night – finally, after more than five years in the Middle East, I have made it to Yemen.
I’ll post some pictures later, but here are some first impressions.
– The men you see on the street are mostly wearing traditional dress: a thobe with Western style jacket, dagger and belt and Yemeni style headscarf. It’s quite fun to see a mobile phone handing on the belt, next to a dagger.
– The buildings, including newer ones, are still decorated in the traditional style. This means that even lower cost buildings fit in and look better than they would elsewhere.
– Toyota is king, with many vintage Land Cruisers grinding through traffic.
– Driving styles are interesting.
– You can see lots of people chewing qat from the early afternoon, one cheek balooned out with the leaves.
– No guns. Apparently you’re not allowed to walk around with your gun in San’aa any more. Up to a year ago, most men carried their AK47 around with them.
I spent today with two excellent customers, having exactly the same discussions I would with sophisticated European customers, but the faces and sites outside were quite new to me, like nothing I’ve seen so far in this part of the world.
We had a delicious lunch with various dishes I’ve never seen before and which were delicious. I felt a bit wary not having a knife and fork and eating straight off the table, but I was given a plate and cutlery, which made it a lot easier to feed myself. My fingers don’t bend enough to be able to break off bread, dip it in a sauce or pick off a piece of meat.

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