Saturday, December 18, 2010
I am home and baking, cooking, wrapping and enjoying my husband and doggies. Never going to be gone again in December. I have missed the holiday season, the music, the Christmas candles and smell of all things Christmas like. NOT enjoying the freezing weather and the snow. Dogs can pee in 15 seconds and be back in the house.
Alex gets in tomorrow morning and looking forward to seeing him and catching up. Weird to have NO kids at home anymore. Nice, but sad.
Realized that I still have some Christmas gifts in my suitcase which I haven't unpacked yet because the clothing goes back to Florida. Have almost everything under control. Love this time of year despite the crappy weather.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Nabiha is one of the ladies who spent the day with me and here, she is presenting both Hani and me with a bouquet of flowers from the group in thanks for our training.
Below, you will meet Samira, one of the women in our group. Do scroll down to see the Samira I saw at lunch each day; but whose face, none of the men ever saw. She would flip her veil back when a man, including the waiters, would walk by. She asked me if I would like a picture of her face and this was a very special gift to me. She knows I am blogging and indicated that I could share her photo. Essa made us a special CD of many photos and all of the participants and I told him/them that this was a wonderful rememberance and gift...and Samira gave me a very warm and personal gift of her smiling face.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
On girls' day out, I forgot to mention that Nabiha was a crazy female driver who had some Arabic female singer on the radio and the three women, with music cranked up on high, were laughing and singing aloud. We passed the police, men, beggars and all were laughing with us...I was reminded of this when Heidi and Kristin sent their travel video to me. Crazy women...beware of 'em.
When I went to the old Sana'a Heritage house, I saw a reenactment of a traditional wedding. Apparently, in the old days, the grooms wore a green head dress of vines/leaves which has been changed into a flower head dress which I posted the other day. Green was worn to keep away the evil...the evil eye is worn here like in other parts of the world. When we were in the jewelry store the other day, I saw a ring with the evil eye symbol on it. Throughout the world this is worn to ward away the evil.
My lady friends took me to see a celebration of a new birth. The woman who just gave birth was dressed all in gold, including a sharp looking hat; make up was perfect and she was covered on her elevated sofa by a gold throw. Below her on the floor with pillows were at least 100 women and girls and there were more in the next room. All of the women were dressed to the nines, had make up on, no veils, few scarves and most were chewing Qat. One never sees women chewing in the streets, in cars or in stores. Only men do this in public. It is verboten to take photos at these female celebrations...and I know why. The women were very seductively dressed, some with see through clothing or mesh at the midriff. It is a private woman's celebration. Never saw the baby...he was sleeping. We only stayed about an hour but the new mom, sat very still and no one talked with her...she was pretty. Everyone else was partying.
After the new birth party, we went on to the women's wedding celebration where the bride was gorgeously dressed in an elegant white off the shoulder dress, hair and make up perfect. Her family is part Ethiopian and part Yemeni so this party had older women teaching the younger how to dance with their shoulders, shimmy and the Yemeni elders were teaching Yemeni wedding dances. 300-400 women and girls were in this huge hall, again dressed spectacularly, in tight dress, high heels and chewing. Everyone was laughing, eating and chewing. NO photos. I wish I could describe the dresses these women wore...and as we left, we watched some young teens in dresses I would never have allowed my girls to wear, stop, pull on the long black dresses, wipe their faces with baby wipes and wrap a scarf over their hair so they could exit onto the street.
Just before ladies' day out, we had been discussing strategic and operational planning...my three friends laughingly said that I needed to help them write a strategic plan to find a husband.
Photos not uploading tonight...another day!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Rich and poor are welcome here and all pray together...well, men together and women elsewhere.
Columns and glass lighting everywhere...again, on the men's side of the Mosque which cost in excess of $120,000,000 to build. The average Yemeni earns less than $2 per day and that is before he buys his Qat!
And here is the President's Mosque which is causing quite a stir because the historical mosque in the old city is Old Yemen, the pride and joy of Sana'a. This new monstrosity took years to build, cost a ton of money and has only been open for a couple of years. The money spent, many have told me, could have been used for health, education, electrical power and more. Instead, there is a monument to the President.
An aside...my travelling companions' names have significance. Arabs use names have meaning: Mahassin, means "good manners"; Nabiha means, "intelligent woman;" and Arwa was named after an early queen. I was told the fact that there was a queen meant that this was pre-Islam. Cannot happen today. Names are given in hope that the child will become that characteristic.
Bait Baws, which humorously translates into "Kissing House," is an old Jewish settlement outside of Sana'a and was the first of many stops we made yesterday. This is the entrance to what is now a ruin site but which the government is planning to restore. The Jews all left in the late 1940's and it is all falling apart. About 20 families, all Yemeni, now live on the grounds but there are no amenities. And interestingly, "beso" in Spanish means, "kiss;" and "bosa" is kiss in Arabic and "baws" means kiss in Hebrew...or so I was told. Similarities in language.
More later...I have all the photos to share from yesterday but loading photos is taking about 30 minutes per picture. Arghhhh....
Thursday, December 9, 2010
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 narrow...do 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.
Dancing is a way to pass along traditions and this drummer was beating with thin sticks and at a pace and rhythm I have never heard.
These are two grooms...they celebrate often together because of expense but also because this is a huge country of millions but, yet very small and closed. The grooms wear flowers and out of the hundreds of men, this is how you can tell who is who. These boys are about 17 and getting married!
Everything is traditional, the colors, their swords which no one else carries and notice their Jumbaya? (sp) that they carry at their waists are decorated while the young man to the right's is not.
And the elders, note the man in the red headdress, shows the younger how to do the wedding dances. This is a circle dance and the man to the left, leaning forward is about 20 and was slowly following the steps of the old man.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
At lunch, I sat with a group of men, one of whom speaks English. Akram was talking with some other folks but after awhile, I decided to go talk with the ladies. They sit together and Akram, passing our table and noticing that I was there, said, "I cannot be with you and the ladies." One of the women indicated that it was because Safiya is veiled and she takes it off to eat so she cannot be near men. We talked about the veiling and she indicated she is very uncomfortable in situations like training where men can/may see her. Along the same topic, while out seeing the old city, I saw women with scarves over their head, not the mesh piece over the eyes like I saw in Iraq. This was like our old fashioned head scarves, patterned, ornate but not sheer. No clue how these women can see where they are going. And I fall on my face with nothing covering any part of my head.
We also discussed the life of the woman at home, which is much more free. There are also clubs here for women where they can sing, dance, chew Qat (which I thought sounded like "cat" but is more like a guttural "cut.") and wear make up. Women do wear make up...just not in the work world. At home, at parties and at close friends' homes, this is appropriate. It seems that one of the ladies may take me to see this... and Hani asked if we could try Qat. Not so sure I am that adventurous. Legal here and apparently it is graded...rather like coffee beans. Good, better and best!
Ah...a good story from training today. There is a magazine which sells very well to men throughout the country and which someone tried to suggest was poor journalism because the photos were not sourced. There is no balance and doesn't reflect the audience. This was in response to my "reading" their products and pointing out that though I cannot read Arabic, I can tell that x photo was stolen from the web and there were no bylines for many articles. Graphs clearly well done didn't come from these small papers but there was no mention of where they came from. Bylines were lacking and in one magazine supported by USAID funds, there were picture of blonde mothers and their children. The content may be relevant but the photos wouldn't speak to Yemeni mothers.
I suggested that this men's magazine, though popular and probably a great idea in terms of making money was not trying to pass as journalism and their products were. Many laughs. Akram is going to find me a copy of this...can't wait to see it.