Monday, July 16, 2012

In the old city

After spending a few hours in the office on Thursday (remember, that's my Saturday) I was thrilled to catch up with a friend I worked with in Pakistan to go exploring in the old city. The souk is pretty great, there's a mixture of little stalls and more formal shops, selling everything from tacky keyrings to the beautiful curved knives that Yemeni men wear around their waists. We just window shopped as I was far more interested in the architectural sights around me. I think this is my favourite shot of the afternoon:
As we strolled through tiny little alleyways we passed all sorts of tradesmen, particularly carpenters.
One thing I didn't take a photo of because I was a bit blown away by the whole concept of it, was the olive oil makers. My friend pointed one shop out to me - it was very dark inside - and the two men sitting just inside the door chewing qat waved us over to take a closer look. I could see a big metal lump in the middle which I was told was the olive press. I was still a bit unsure of what I was looking at, when the camel was pointed out to me. "Oh, they have a camel, why is there a camel in this tiny dark room?" is what I definitely thought to myself, and perhaps said out loud. One of the men explained that the camel walks in circles around the dragging the press, which is how the press actually presses the olives. That's a very poor explanation, I know. I did a quick search and found  this video which better shows what the camel does. That was interesting for me to see, since the camel I saw was taking a break and the room was so dark. I felt rather sorry for the camel. But on we walked through the narrow streets, with no real destination in mind. As for how narrow some of the streets were - well:
I know I said I might be focussing more on windows than doors in Sana'a, but this door was pretty fabulous!
We decided to make our way to the top of the Burj Al Salam hotel, and the view from the roof was spectacular. It's quite something to see the relatively uniform buildings stretch almost to the horizon, differing only in their decorative brick work.
And the mountains in the distance that are apparently controlled by the military (so definitely a no-go zone for us) which from some angles look like they rise up right behind some buildings.
Friday was spent at an ambassador's residence playing volleyball with a mix of NGO types and also the close personal protection of the ambassador. Thankfully there was nothing more than a bit of good natured ribbing and nobody seemed to take it too seriously. We played for a few hours, with a BBQ in between and my forearms were bruised by the time we got home. I guess that's what you get when you don't play volleyball for 13 years!!

All in all, a pretty great weekend!!

1 comment:

  1. Yay! So glad to hear you are enjoying Sana'a so far! Looking forward to reading more. Hi to everyone :)