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Published: December 18th 2009
Another horrific night with stomach cramps once again, whatever I got days before is still lingering damn! As I curl up in bed 8pm got a knock on the door, Ahamed fetches me for dinner, I begged off and tried to sleep. There are new guests in the hotel and they performed for them, loud drummings, music and all, through all that I grimace in pain in my room on and off in my slumber, no fever no diarrhea, just cramps. Somehow though I felt I had a pretty good sleep and when the noise from the call to prayer came 3amish my tummy was better. Around 7am I packed my stuff and headed for breakfast, paid my bill and said my goodbyes to everyone. Walked 5 minutes near a gas station in town and found a shared taxi to Maghrabah, I put my pack in the taxi, 5 minutes later more people came and got on it, so as not to lose a place I attempted to get in the cab, one dude prevented me from getting in, then the driver came running in, telling me it's going to Sana'a, and pointed to the taxi behind! I guess he just
Al Muzafar mosque
changed his mind when he got more fare for Sana'a, annoyed I took my bag to the next taxi, repeating 5 times my destination getting a confused nod from the other driver.
Waited maybe 10 more minutes and we are off, the driver hot wiring his own car, there is no need fopr keys here! about 10 minutes later we arrived at chaotic Maghrabah, everyone looked at me as I picked up my pack, I paid the driver 100 rial, was waiting for a change but did not get any, oh well(supposed to be only 50 rial). Haven't a clue where to go, so I approached a young kid sat on the side of the road selling boiled eggs, "Bajil, Hudaydah" I announced to him, he pointed me to a station wagon across the street, I walked up to the driver,"Hudaydah" I said, he nodded and said something in Arabic, he made me get in the cab right away so I did, another man got on 7 people in all in the station wagon, 1 in front, 3 in the middle and 3 on the back where I am. "how much to HUdaydah?" I blurted to the surprised dudes
Al Ashrafiya mosque
in the car, one luckily speaks English and said to me 1,200 rial($6). Then the driver gets on and announced something in Arabic, the dude who speaks a bit of English said to me, 700 rial($3.5) for the fare. Ok I said happy that it is less.
Soon as we moved I knew it will be a horrific trip, the driver is a maniac! Worse than the Latin American drivers,chewing qat, no respect for curves and turns abruptly, overtakes everyone, anywhere, the old man sat to my left had his eyes shut and head bowed down, i was worried he might hurl at some point, but he didnt. Got on a checkpoint but was hushed straight through. Hairpin turns all over as we make our way down the valleys, horrific driving made me nauseous. A Brief pause happened in a small town where the road got strangled by traffic, 2 way traffic was at a halt as no one is willing to give in, this is also a street market area and people are crossing roads left and right, we sat for a good 30 minutes, drivers yelling at each other, while this is happening 2 more dude got
smoked goat chees anyone?
on and now we are 9! Soon as we went again, the driver's maniacal ways resumed.
We managed to get on a straight road and when we did the driver just floored it, flying away we arrived in Bajil where the old man got off, another checkpoint through easily, half hour later we arrived at the edge of Hudaydah, another security checkpoint, this time thorough, The armed security dude taps on the window when he saw me at the back, I reckon he wanted a copy of my permit so I passed it on to the driver, for some reason the security dude was yelling at the driver while he looks over the permit, then he gives it back and let us go, The permit gets passed on to everyone in the taxi , they all are trying to read it and then hands it back to me. By the time we get to the parking area for shared taxis in town there were only me and the English speaking dude, I told him where I want to go, hoping he can give me guidance, he said if I give him 500 rial($2.5) he will take me there, I
politely declined telling him I have not much money, he hailed a taxi for me and he bades me goodbye after explaining to the driver where I need to go, the driver does not know where it is and keeps asking bystanders, and the engine keeps stalling! We somehow found it, it is all in Arabic, no English sign,The driver quoted me 2, I thought he meant 2,000 so I went on a tirade of how he is overcharging me, went to the reception desk of the hotel, the man there went out with me to ask the guy how much the fare was, turns out only 200 rial, feeling embarassed i apologized to the driver.
2,500($12) for a room with no toilet but a/c and fan and fridge and cable tv so i took it. They pointed me to where a good seafood restaurant it but the direction is confusing, I somehow ended up in the street parallel to the waterfront. Carol's restaurant or something is the name, first one I saw, that should do, I asked if they have shrimp, gamberi here I think he says yes for 1,200 rial, I sat and everybody stares at me,
people coming to me talking me up but could not understand it.
Took awhile for food to come it was just shrimp popplers with salad but enough to fill me up. Paid a horrendous $7! Well considering how cheap food here this is quite steep, left and vow never to return here. That is if I find another restaurant. Walked back to the hotel and chill.
Got the cramps again in the eve so I opted to skip dinner, went down reception to ask about how to get to the fish market tomorrow morning, the main reason I cam here, boy was it a headache and a half trying to sign language and charade at the same time, the dude at the reception can speak English but very poor, after awhile I gave up and leave it to the gods of the seas to guide me tomorrow! Slept alright despite tummy still achy. Got up around 630am and walked towards the Cornish, I followed the crowds and voila! I found the fish market, a few stalls selling their catch and some boats on the dock just unloading their catch, not really crowded and not as interesting as i thought
it would be, except for one fishing boat that was unloading loads full of sharks! man sized sharks, hammerheads, nurse sharks and some others. it's really disgusting, the scene and the smell, I feel bad for the poor sharks, am sure they will end up at some Chinese kitchen, shark fins and all. The sharks must be very heavy it takes at least 2 people to load them up the waiting vehicle. i got bored so walked around some more, same scene then I headed back to the hotel and packed my things to move on, nothing in this town is interesting, just concrete blocks of buildings and garbage all over town.
Nice dudes in the reception desk of the Alhamra hotel helped me sort out how to get transport out of Al Hudaydah. in their broken English they managed to tell me that buses to Ibb leaves at 1pm via Taiz, or I could get a shared taxi, one of them offered to drive me to the taxi stand, when we arrived at the stand a share taxi is almost full and is leaving for Taiz, so i decided to head there for now. Got on and
as expected all guys in the car and all staring at me, I have to explain where I am from, they haven't a clue where United States is but they know America. One thought I was from Indonesia(thank god for a change I am not Japanese!). We have to pay before we leave, 1,300($6.5) a 3 hour trip. The driver was halfway through his stash of qat already before we even left and am expecting for some crazy driving otherwise it will be boring!
Right off the bat we got stopped outside the city and the police asked for my permit, everyone was again staring at me. We got waved through and off we go, we stopped 4 times, 2 pee stops(geez Yemenis have small bladders!), another to have lunch, i opted to skip it and while everyone is in the restaurant, I sat in the taxi and all the kids lingered around me, talking to me in Arabic and watching my every move, asking for money,I am quite annoyed by this time and yelled something at them in English to leave me alone, they got scared but never budged. The people came back to the taxi and off
we went, we got stopped once more in the main road and I have to give them another permit copy. We stopped on more time so the driver can buy charcoal for cooking!
Somehow we made it to Taiz! I got off the taxi and immediately I felt the whole town is watching me, staring at me, some yelling hello some a smile and some a greeting in Arabic. I waited for 10 minutes for a taxi to get me to a hotel everyone is full, and I am so uncomfortable by now being the center of attention of the whole town. I walked to the intersection and lo and behold taxi stand, I talked to one taxi driver asked him if he know the place I am going he nodded and off we go, first he got into an argument with fellow drivers, I think he jumped the line but how am I supposed to know. The young fella's cheek is ready to burst full of qat! he talks to me in Arabic I ignore him, my belly is acting up and just wanting to get to the hotel, we got to At Tahrir St. but he can't
find my hotel! Slowly though he got there, Al-Shreef hotel, again I went to the desk to ask if the driver who is charging me 500 rial($2.5) is fair they all nodded so I asked one kid to hand it over to him. I got a single room for 3,000 rial($15) cable tv, a/c, ceiling fan, toilet inside(squat though). Neat and tidy and near the center what more can I ask for. 5 minutes later the phone rang the dude at reception wants my passport, I went down with a photocopy of the info page and visa, he wanted the original so I went back up to get it. he wanted to keep it! I said hell no, I pointed to the copy he said to me"passport keep here" pointing to a drawer, I leaned towards him really annoyed, if you lose my passport I told him, You will pay me heaps and I will make sure you go to jail!
Suddenly the photocopy is acceptable! I did not want to go to lunch as my tummy is heaving once again! Damn this Yemen belly! I turned on the tv and watched one movie after the other on FOX.
One of only 2 English channels. Aliens was playing followed by The Abyss, have to get out of the room to at least do something useful, I walked the street a bit and people are staring at me again, I dont know if they see tourists here at all! I used the internet, nosy kids peeking what I was doing all of a sudden I get a crowd of them when I opened up my Facebook account, must be my profile foto! The kids were giggling so I pushed them out away from the screen and they keep chuckling. I closed it right away. After that I went for a walk to buy tuna and bread for dinner, I dread to eat the local food as I dont want another bad experience. Called my friend Ziad who is here visiting family, he will see me tomorrow to show the city, to me, I prefer this so people will stop staring at me.
Next morning Ziad came to the hotel and we walked towards Bab al Kabir the old gate entrance to the old town, first a huge breakfast, since I have been iffy in the tummy I try to
skip breakfast but am starved so he ordered some liver stuff with bread! great cure(maybe) for bad tummy. We walked to the old town and walked around inspecting every stalls people selling smoked cheese, spices, wares, dried fish etc. taking photos are not a problem everyone obliges, am the center of attention once again. We walked up to this huge very old mosque called Al-Ashrafiya, it is being reconstructed at the moment by a group of Italians, one walked out the door from a corner and we met her in the hallway, she is one hot babe! anyway we saw the tombs of some important people but what fascinates me are the really old doors made of wood with intricate carvings, how they survived this long is incredible I believe they are average more than 700 years old. then we stopped by the nearby mosque called Al Muzafar, its got plenty of domes which reminds me of hammams in Turkey and Georgia but this are proper mosques.
We walked back to the old town and took a couple of shared collectivo buses to get to a qat market where Ziad can buy his qat for the afternoon. I realized
and as Ziad explained to me, young women who are single cannot sit close to men and we have to give them the whole length of seats so they can all be together and we are not allowed to stare at them etc. all those rules, I just looked away to prevent offending them. Occasionally we have to move seats to accomodate one or few of the women clad in black burqas. Arriving in the qat market, everyone wanted a photo of them taken, it got too much that we have to leave quickly. We took a collectivo to go all the way up to the famous Lord of the rings type castle up on a hill called" Qalat al Qahira" it is huge and impressive, now a military post/barracks we can't go all the way in so we stopped at a panoramic viewpoint and walked a bit about halfway to the top, some walls are of new construction, Ziad said that some of the old walls were torn to build modern walls, sad as this place is really ancient, wish they preserved the materials for future restorations. Had lunch nearby and waited for a taxi to get up to
jabal sabir, well halfway through the 3,00m mountain there are lots of chill out areas where the locals come up to chew their qat with a view, it's like a bar with no alcohol, a social gathering place. Amazing view and good company, we spoke to some people from the north of Yemen near the trouble areas.
Couple hours there we walked down back to town,nice houses up on this hills, Ziad said the rich and famous of the town lives here. Arriving back to the hotel, Ziad convinced the reception desk to charge me $3 less starting tonight. Good thing!
Hopped on the internet and said bye to Ziad.
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