The architecture in San'a is unique. The tower houses look like gingerbread. In this picture you can see the painters putting a fresh coat of white borders around the windows and doors. The windows have stained glass arches which make a nice effect both inside the room and outside at night when the lights come on and the windows are all lit up with color.
Some shops with their wares outside.
We met Noman at the Felix Arabia hotel. He was our guide for three days while we toured the hilltop villages around San'a. We paid him about $60 a day for his services including the car and gas. We paid separately for the funduq's (B&Bs) which were about $10 each.
Our first stop on the tour was to overlook Wadi Dhar. Most of the greenery you see here are qat trees
Wadi Dhar is famous for the Rock Palace, pretty self explanatory in this picture.
Room inside the Rock Palace. Each level of a tower house has a purpose. The bottom is usually where the animals are kept. This is more of a social room, but some of the rooms are gender specific.
Before stopping on the first night, Noman took us through Thule. Here we met the most persistent salespeople of all time. Even the kids were selling something and they wouldn't let up for a minute.
These guys were anxious to sell us something. Every time we passed one shop, the man would shut the door, then leap frog in front of us to open up another one with all the same stuff in it. It was pretty comical. In the end I bought a door knocker and the shop keeper was a bit frustrated with me as I managed to get him down on the price by a lot. He told Noman I was too tough, like a Bedouin woman. I think that might have been a compliment.
This picture is taken on the trail, looking back up to Kawkaban. You can see what I mean by a steep trail built right into the cliffside.
On the way to our next village we stopped at the qat suq to buy some qat. Qat is a scourge in Yemen. Most of the men in Yemen have stuffed their cheeks until they pouch out with the green leaves and then slowly suck and chew on them. This starts about mid afternoon and continues on into the evening. The men will try and tell you it is a stimulant but not a narcotic, however, none of the men looked very stimulated to us. They will spend up to 50% of their salaries on the stuff. Yemen and Somalia are notorious for chewing qat, but Saudi Arabia and Oman have stiff penalties if you are caught with it.
This was at one of the suqs where you could buy hashish, beer or marijuana if you like. These guys were joking around. The one has a jalabyah (dagger) held to the other's throat. I wasn't amused.
When we got to our funduq, Noman offered to let us try out the qat. This is in the mufraj where usually the men get together for their afternoon chew. Neither Erin or I got any effect from the qat because I think you must chew it for some time to build the chemical up in your system. Anyway, no harm done. Better to just have some lunch.
On our road trip we had to pass through several checkpoints. Noman told us if we revealed that we were American, he would have to have an escort and we would not get around so easily. So we were "French" for the time being. Since Erin could speak some French she would have to do the talking if we were directly questioned.
Our last village was Al Hajarrah, Noman's home town
Doorway to a house
When we left Yemen for India we crossed our half way point around the world. Erin surprised us with a bottle of champagne and a bag of M&Ms, a tradition in our family when we celebrate important milestones.
Here's Erin navigating our way to India, our next stop.....Mumbai.