I'm an American school teacher living and working in Sanaa, Yemen. Each day I will upload some photos and write about day-to-day life in Yemen during very interesting times.

20th February 2013

Question

freethelemmings asked: I too have lived in Yemen, and am planning on going back next May. Probably Tai'z or Hodeidah. Your blog of the occupation of Tahrir Square touched my heart. Thank you. Hope you get to live there during a time of peace some day; I have and it warmed my heart. "Arabia Felix"

Thanks so much for your kind comments. And sorry for my long delay in responding. May’s not far off. I hope you have a wonderful time in Yemen!

20th February 2013

Question

chapmister asked: Hello,so nice to hear of your personal experience in yemen.I've been to Yemen twice,my wife's Yemeni,i'm an Indian Muslim,Born,brought up in Kenya.I love Yemen,even dreamt of moving there once,2weeks back Thieves broke in to My Shop,made me a poor man overnight,now thinking of moving to Yemen,but i'm worried,is there a market for a diploma holder in IT in sanaa?i cant speak arabic yet,my wife has a degree in English languages,Sanaa university.What would your opinion be on this issue?

I am sorry to learn about the theft of your shop. Must be very difficult to start over again.  I wish you the best of luck.  I loved living in Yemen, but I went there with a job, so I don’t know what it is like to look for a job while there. It probably would be easier Is your wife Yemeni? If you can get a long term visa through your wife. I haven’t lived there in almost 2 years and do not really know what the situation is like now. But I do know that it’s a poor country with lots of problems to overcome. I do not think it would be an easy place to make money in, especially if you do not know Arabic. It’s a country to go to if you are very interested in the culture and are wiling to sacrifice a good income and potential difficulties for the experience of living there.

Good luck!

20th February 2013

Question

Anonymous asked: Hello, I really like your Blog. I just wondered if you learned the Arabic language while you have been in Yemen. Thanks :)

Thanks for your interest.  I did learn a little Arabic, ‘market Arabic’ as I call it, but unfortunately never learned enough to have a real conversation. Arabic is not an easy language to learn, but in retrospect, I wish that I had put a lot more effort into it. Yemen is a wonderful place to learn Arabic and there used to be lots of language schools, though i do not know what the situation is like now.

11th December 2012

Question with 1 note

Anonymous asked: Thanks for the great blog! Are you still in Yemen now? My husband plans to go in December and I wonder how safe it is in Sanaa and Ibb. He is Arab and I am non-muslim/white/Western. Please advise. Thanks!

Greetings,

Thanks for visiting and for your question.  I hope your husband has a wonderful time in Yemen. You should go with him!  It’s a very interesting and beautiful country. I’m no longer there - I left more than a year ago.  But personally I never once felt in danger. Truthfully, I found Yemen to be very safe, the people warm and friendly. Your husband will have a very different experience being a man and being Arab, but I trust that he will have no difficulties and will return safely.  I wish him the best of luck!

24th June 2011

Photo with 5 notes

This girl loves Yemen on Flickr.
Life is Strange #2 I swear I wrote a post with this title some time ago, but I can’t find it. Update (Fri) - found it: http://lifeinyemen.tumblr.com/post/5791068444/life-is-strange
 Life in Yemen now, from here, seems far away and strange. But life is strange here in Phoenix, Arizona as well.  I write now from a creaky old Mac at a friend’s place in Phoenix or suburbs there of.  Highs today of 113 F (45 C). The heat is stupefying.  The residential areas are one ghost town after another.   Not a creature moves. Only air conditioned vehicles  gliding gently and silently down broad streets. No barefoot boys playing soccer or little girls scampering off with water jugs to fill. No women gilding past, anonymous in black robes and veils. No cats clawing at stuffed plastic bags or young calves sucking the rope tied around their neck as they wait for slaughter.  Or locals saying “Welcome, welcome” with a smile. I was welcomed in Yemen until my very last day there. About 3 weeks ago. I’ll admit it, I’m mesmerized by the variety of $5 tee shirts at Walmart, shorts and sun dresses too.  We could certainly eat blueberries as well as strawberries and kiwi, don’t you think? Only $1.99 for a package.  Sucked into a variety of great deals at Dollar Tree (where everything really actually is 1 dollar plus tax). Paused, amazed, at the shelves of tequila at Total Wine, but abstained from the desire.  I got an email message the other day, reminding me that my VPN connection (US$6.95 for 30 days) was about to expire. Don’t need that here. But was grateful to find it and download it while in Sanaa. Thanks Joe! (A VPN or Virtual Private Network enables you to bypass local censors among many other things). Several people have started following me in the past few days. Thank you.  Hope I don’t disappoint you, but  I will not return to Yemen in the near future. Timor Leste next. I buy shorts and tee shirts and another bathing suit and swimming googles and sunscreen and malaria pills. An odd thing in the suburbs of Phoenix:  The front of the local Walmarts is cut up and painted into shapes like a giant theater prop, pretending to be a long line of individual businesses rather than one giant one. The the skeleton of the land around here reminds me of Yemen. Flat topped mesas and point mountains too. Wadis, gravel, small wiry trees.  Refusing to pay checked luggage fees and wanting to slip through security with as little hassle as possible, I opted to leave my laptop behind when I flew west from Washington DC to Phoenix. So I have no recent photos to post. But luckily I have some images online elsewhere. This is one of my favorites. One afternoon after school I flung my bags down at home and set off for a walk. Came across this girl and her friends playing in a small side street.  They stopped to greet me, giggling. Were eager to pose for photos.  One saw my interest in the flag on this girl’s cheek and tilted her cheek to a better angle.

This girl loves Yemen on Flickr.

Life is Strange #2

I swear I wrote a post with this title some time ago, but I can’t find it. Update (Fri) - found it: http://lifeinyemen.tumblr.com/post/5791068444/life-is-strange


Life in Yemen now, from here, seems far away and strange.

But life is strange here in Phoenix, Arizona as well.

I write now from a creaky old Mac at a friend’s place in Phoenix or suburbs there of. Highs today of 113 F (45 C). The heat is stupefying. The residential areas are one ghost town after another. Not a creature moves. Only air conditioned vehicles gliding gently and silently down broad streets. No barefoot boys playing soccer or little girls scampering off with water jugs to fill. No women gilding past, anonymous in black robes and veils. No cats clawing at stuffed plastic bags or young calves sucking the rope tied around their neck as they wait for slaughter.

Or locals saying “Welcome, welcome” with a smile.

I was welcomed in Yemen until my very last day there. About 3 weeks ago.

I’ll admit it, I’m mesmerized by the variety of $5 tee shirts at Walmart, shorts and sun dresses too. We could certainly eat blueberries as well as strawberries and kiwi, don’t you think? Only $1.99 for a package. Sucked into a variety of great deals at Dollar Tree (where everything really actually is 1 dollar plus tax). Paused, amazed, at the shelves of tequila at Total Wine, but abstained from the desire.

I got an email message the other day, reminding me that my VPN connection (US$6.95 for 30 days) was about to expire. Don’t need that here. But was grateful to find it and download it while in Sanaa. Thanks Joe! (A VPN or Virtual Private Network enables you to bypass local censors among many other things).

Several people have started following me in the past few days. Thank you.

Hope I don’t disappoint you, but I will not return to Yemen in the near future. Timor Leste next. I buy shorts and tee shirts and another bathing suit and swimming googles and sunscreen and malaria pills.

An odd thing in the suburbs of Phoenix: The front of the local Walmarts is cut up and painted into shapes like a giant theater prop, pretending to be a long line of individual businesses rather than one giant one.

The the skeleton of the land around here reminds me of Yemen. Flat topped mesas and point mountains too. Wadis, gravel, small wiry trees.

Refusing to pay checked luggage fees and wanting to slip through security with as little hassle as possible, I opted to leave my laptop behind when I flew west from Washington DC to Phoenix. So I have no recent photos to post.

But luckily I have some images online elsewhere. This is one of my favorites. One afternoon after school I flung my bags down at home and set off for a walk. Came across this girl and her friends playing in a small side street. They stopped to greet me, giggling. Were eager to pose for photos. One saw my interest in the flag on this girl’s cheek and tilted her cheek to a better angle.

Tagged: yemensanaaprotestspro-salehflagyemenigirlsmile

3rd June 2011

Question

Anonymous asked: Kate - how long have you been teaching in Yemen? I see your blog began in March, but I sense you have been there several years.

Alas, I’m not longer in Yemen, but taught there for 2 years. Hope to go back some day! Have you been there before?

1st June 2011

Post with 2 notes

Last post from Yemen

I think this will be my last post from this troubled, but most interesting country.  I’m scheduled to fly out early tomorrow morning. 15 mins until I’m picked up. Seems calm.

Two photos today. The first is of a tank near Tahrir Square, on the road which eventually leads to Hasabah, the beleaguered neighborhood where the shelling is taking place. I drove down north until the first roadblocks, not far beyond Tahrir Square, home of the pro-Saleh camp. Still filled with large tents but they are mostly empty. Continued walking for a bit, past many soldiers. Seemed all had a big gun over a shoulder and a red plastic bag of qat in hand. They were all friendly and let me walk past freely. “Marhaba”, “Welcome to Yemen,” several said with a smile.

I wasn’t inclined to take photos however and soon deemed is wise to return home to finish my packing.

Did want a tank though. On the way back parked and got out, pretending to fiddle with my cell phone as I non chalantly snapped the tank. A fellow walking past asked me not to. Sura (photo) was mamnour (forbidden). No worries. I have packing to do.

The second photo is of the Sanaa Cine Club, started by Italian Roberto, carried on by American Tammi. Thanks Tammi for a last dash of Sanaa social life!

Three minutes until Naji is supposed to pick me up.

Good bye Yemen. I’m sad to leave you! Wish you well.


Tagged: yemengood byetanksanaa cine club

31st May 2011

Post

Yes, “Explosions and heavy gunfire rocked the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, overnight,” but that’s not the whole story. It’s one version of the truth, but not the only one.  It gives the wrong impression of what’s happening here.

 

Yes, the blasts can be heard throughout Sanaa, and there is a nervous undercurrent of energy I think all must feel.  But we’re not all cowering at home next to our emergency horde of food and water.

 

The shelling is north of the city, in a neighborhood called Hasabha. People living there were warned there would be violence and many have been forced to flee.  

 

But most of the city in unaffected by the shelling.  

 

Life continues. Not as it was perhaps (scarce and/or expensive electricity, petrol and cooking gas has a big impact), but today was much as it was a week ago (except I no longer have teach!). Shops, cafes and money changers were open, men wheeled carts selling cactus fruit and boys played soccer.  I walked to Hadda St and bought two chocolate donuts and a forth kilo of delicious pistachio pastries. Had 109 photos printed and some passport photos.  Drank a mango juice. It was midday and I heard no shelling.

 

It’s evening now. The electricity is on.  My housemate left late last night after two failed attempts. Almost all my stuff has been given away or packed.  Snowball the cat found a home. 

 

Ganet, my Ethiopian maid who lives in a few rooms outside the house, packs all her family’s belongings with the help of a few friends. When I leave they must as well.  

 

More than 7 months ago Worku her husband, was riding his bike to work when he was struck by a car driven by a child (not an unusual occurrence in Yemen).  He was in a coma for months. Eventually he woke and has improved to the extent that he can now sit up on his own. He can also talk and respond to questions. 

 

The father of the child who hit him is a kind man. Paid the hospital bills without complaint and came to visit when Worku was released from the hospital.  And fell in love with Snowball.  At that time Lydia, Ganet’s 3 year old daughter, and I refused to part with the furry white cat. But things change. Now I’m thrilled to give him away.  

Random protest photos. I especially enjoyed photographing children, who for the most part loved being photographed. There was such a wonderful energy at the protest camp. Such hope and commitment. Peaceful passion.

I feel safe in my empty home in spite of the distant shelling. Soon I will leave and venture off to a new life.  

Most people here of course do not have that option and will need to live with whatever changes this shelling and all that came before it will bring about.

It’s too bad men with big guns got involved. I don’t think the families of these children will have any say in the new Yemen they helped to bring about.  Too bad men with big guns took over.




Tagged: yemenprotestschildren

31st May 2011

Post

Beginning & End

The end has to be near. Terrific shelling all night and continuing into the day. Mostly from the direction of Hasabah. No sirens or other unusual noise. Just big booms, quite far in the distance.

Below are the very first photos of protesters I took. In front of Sanaa University, February 3rd.  There are also a few taken inside the University campus, which you could enter then. 

Women walk through the Sanaa University Campus on Thursday, February 3rd. Exams were cancelled that day. A small group of protesters had gathered in front of the southern gate. 

Back then the visible protesters were a small group of earnest young men gathered in a tight circle in the middle of the wide avenue leading into the university. Vehicles could easily drive around and through them.

Tagged: yemenprotestssanaa universitywomenstudentsthe beginningopposition

31st May 2011

Post with 1 note

Strange

It is odd - and I must say unnerving - to hear the fire of various weapons and the gentle call to prayer at the same time. There’s no other sound - no sirens, horns, birds, cars, screams. Nothing.

A young man at the protest camp poses with Gandhi and Che. Others chew qat.

Tagged: yemenprotestsGandhi