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View Full Version : Back from Al Yaman!


iamback
05-04-2007, 10:06 AM
Hi all, I'm back! Arrived yesterday, in fact, with serious lack of sleep and a heavy cold - but that's just inconvenience.

My travel blog has some stories, but it's way behind: not only were there very few days with enough time to actually write, but Internet "shops" (not "cafes") are still relatively rare and found only in the larger towns and cities - or excruciatingly slow sharing a dial-up line. Eventually, I'll catch up though, I've already written a lot more than I've been able to type in and upload.

No way I'm going to catch up with all the threads here, but I may jump in here and there...

It's nice to be back, but I miss Yemen, and half my head is still there - in probably the most hospitable country I've ever visited: people inviting you for lunch, just because you're there; people saying "Welcome!" and meaning it; people asking you to take their picture, without asking for a print, just so you'll remember them (I think), sometimes giving you a little thing for the effort - a banana, or a little bag of french fries ("chips")... Some day I'll go back to see more - insh'allah!

ktinkel
05-04-2007, 11:24 AM
Welcome back! Sounds as if you had a grand time.

Hear any good music?

iamback
05-04-2007, 11:40 AM
Welcome back! Sounds as if you had a grand time.Absolutely! Also a very tiring time, since there were few moments of rest. :) I had a job sometimes just to keep up with my (dcetailed) daily notes.

Hear any good music?Lots, actually: all Yemenis seem to love music, two of our three drivers particularly so, playing tapes in the car all the time, telling us some about it, such as where it was from. Yemen, with its rich history, understandably has a rich musical culture, and every area has its own styles. And in Manakhah we stayed in a funduq where the owners, father and sons, would treat their guests to a music-and-dance show after every lunch and dinner - professional level, they regularly get invited to the capital to entertain special guests. A few days later we met them somewhere else: they were setting up to do a show for a lot of guests, to be recorded by NBC.

I also brought back a lot of music, some CDs, but also VCDs and tapes (which i'll have to find a way to convert in to digital form. I asked Mohamed, one of our drivers, to write down in Arabic "traditional Yemeni music" for me, and during the last few days in Sana'a I used this to find what I wanted from various shops (in only one I didn't need it, one of the salesmen (owner?) spoke good English and both soon cottoned on to what I was looking for - I came away with 6 CDs of good quality, for about 4 EUR! :D). I haven't heard it all yet, but there's some good stuff; and from various areas (I don't know all, but for most CDs and tapes I know where it's from).

ktinkel
05-04-2007, 12:49 PM
It will be interesting to find out what you discover in that collection. How much variety there is, how it relates to other music. Nice old complicated culture around there.

And how was the food?

iamback
05-04-2007, 10:37 PM
It will be interesting to find out what you discover in that collection. How much variety there is, how it relates to other music. Nice old complicated culture around there.Indeed! I got one CD from Aden - where we haven't been - and what little I heard in the shop sounded very different from what I heard from elsewhere, as expected. But it will require a lot of listening to get a real feel for the regional differences (which the Yemenis have no problem identifying).

And how was the food?Excellent, wonderful! Except on the few occasions when they left out the spices for the tourists. The trick is to eat in local restaurants, of course -- whenever possible, but that was not always (http://blog.iamback.com/story/2007-04-07/303-A-tasteless-tourist-lunch).

The food on the plane back (Turkish Airlines) was terribly bland... but I brought back more than a kilo of spices! :D

ktinkel
05-05-2007, 05:42 AM
Much ethnic food offered in U.S. restaurants has been tamed, too. We like to try to get to a new place before the management caves in to complaints about how spicy the food is.

Too bad, really.

ElyseC
05-05-2007, 01:35 PM
Much ethnic food offered in U.S. restaurants has been tamed, too. We like to try to get to a new place before the management caves in to complaints about how spicy the food is.

Too bad, really.Precisely our lament here in the Midwest regarding decent Mexican food. Had a discussion about it this morning, in fact, with other former left coast residents and another from Texas who is of Mexican descent. We were lamenting how there are plenty of places around, most being run by real Mexican immigrants, but the food has been so dumbed down, totally Midwesternized. Dreadful.