June 29, 2008

Making me laugh.

In spite of some modern buildings and cars, visiting Yemen is like stepping into the past. During an evening walk at twilight the only lights shone from behind colored glass windows high in the three story buildings of Sana'a. The houses are tall giving a contemporary look from afar but as you get closer a beauty all their own becomes apparent. The elaborate friezes, the carved frames and stained glass windows transport you to another world.

I wandered through San'a with some new friends. Dutch women, who else? Wherever you go in the world, there is sure to be a group of Dutch women right ahead of you.

We crossed the bridge into the fortified inner city and bought the necessities for the coming weeks. It was hard enough to find what we needed in Sana'a, the capital, so we could only imagine what the other cities would be like. We bought biscuits, and La Vache qui Rit cheese that would keep and other odds and ends that had been forgotten and might be needed.

The bazaar offered many things that we didn't need, but bought anyway. I ended up with an alarm clock that instead of ringing sounded, "Allah Akbar", right on the dot. It was made of hideous pink plastic in the form of a mosque that closely resembled a birthday cake. Pop Art in its purest form.

People all over the world are friendly. It is fear or xenophobia that prevents us from seeing this. The young man in this picture was trying to make me smile - and he succeeded.

Arabica Felix

In August of 1997, we were in the pool on a hot Arizona night with a drink and talking about things in general as we touched on the topic of travel. We always talked much and often. Not only were we married, we also worked together and especially when living in an area where we had to make new friends, we were also each others companion in practically everything we did.

Pieter would be sailing a regatta off the coast of Sri Lanka in September with some friends from Holland. He had sailed Catamaran for several years now and he was looking forward to doing it in another exotic location with his sailing buddies. He asked me what I intended to do. I said, 'I would like to see Yemen', not quite being serious and basing my travel destination on a recently read article in a magazine.

In November Pieter was no longer there, and I had no idea what to do with my life. I had traveled to Europe twice in a 6 week period. Nothing seemed to bring relief. It had nothing to do with location or whom I had around me. I carried grief within me and it seemed to have attached itself to me with a thousand greedy, grabbing hands. Nothing seemed to matter. I had no interest in life in general. I was running away from anything and everything with nowhere to go. All I wanted perhaps was to hurt more than I was hurting already, almost like scratching a mosquito bite till it bleeds. Not relieving the itch but adding pain.

On the spur of the moment I booked a ticket to Yemen. I hardly recognized my picture on my visa. There was something wrong with the eyes. The mouth smiled, but the eyes were empty and lifeless. I looked scary, but then again everything looked scary to me at that time and little did I care.

And so I went on my walkabout through Yemen, a little crazy in the head perhaps, hoping to find something close to purgatory, hoping that I would feel something worse than what I was feeling already so that what I was feeling would go away. Hoping that I would enter a world that would make me forget the world I lived in.


Related Posts with Thumbnails