Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rock Palace, outside Sana'a

A natural window built into the Rock Palace. This young man was seated, gazing out at the countryside and he encouraged me to take his photo. I cannot begin to share the warmth, generosity and humor the Yemeni people exhibit. I walk by the youngest of children and they immediately say, "Hello. How are you?" Hani was a bit exasperated yesterday...he is Egyptian and although he looks very different in many ways than the Yemenis, when he addresses someone in Arabic, they try to respond to him in English. He is an Arab who speaks perfect English and he ended up buying a Jambaya, the traditional daggar and wore it on a belt, trying to be one with the people. People still tried to speak English with him.

In so many ways I am delighted every day. I have been invited to sit and eat lunch on the street with men and women don't do this. I have been asked to try Qat on the street, which women also do not do. Oh, they chew, but not on the street.

For those of you who know how apparently easy it is for me to fall on my face while walking on the straight and look at these rock steps that lead up the side of the mountain and into Rock Palace. Not only are the steps crooked and uneven, the height of the steps varied by a half foot in some places. Akram, who is here in traditional garb and talking on his cell as we exited the Palace, indicated that the stairways are so very wide because all of the food, clothing and necesseties needed by the servants and the Imam and his family, had to be carried up the stairs by camels and donkeys! Think...six floors of uneven stairs navigated by a camel.

Atop Rock Palace on the roof, looking out over the very bleak, yet gorgeous countryside, are situated these chimney which vent the kitchen below. I haven't been to our Grand Canyon but this countryside is how I picture those canyons and gorges....going to go soon. How horrid to travel the world and have not yet seen all of our own country.

Here is a stained glass window that actually shimmered as we entered. Several rooms in the palace are closed off like in a museum so you can see how elegant the furnishings were for the Imam and his family of several wives. Each wife had her own wing, kind of like the TV program, Sister Wives of today!

This palace was indeed very unique...built in the 30s but entirely traditional. The kitchen was on the side of the mountain not touched by the sun with meathooks hanging from the ceiling. Sta

This was the ultimate destination for our tour yesterday and, while Hani could not climb to the top of the mountain palace, I was. We are already at fairly high elevation in Sana'a and climbing wasn't easy especially on all of the uneven stones.

The Rock Palace was built for the Imam Yahya, who reigned here in Yemen from 1904 until he was assassinated in 1948. This summer palace was built atop a huge rock outcropping outside of Sana'a in the 1930s.

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