There are a lot of reasons to love many places; this list is just a few things that we uniquely enjoy about being in Sana’a right now, in no particular order. Life itself is a blessing, so if you have fallen out of love with the place that you live, try, try, try to think of the things you enjoy about that place and be grateful for what you have.
1. The Weather- The weather here in Sana’a is amazing! Most days are sunny or partly cloudy. Since we’ve been here, the weather has been between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In the past week or two, the weather has been dipping into the upper 60’s and low 70’s. It’s perfect sweater weather! Of course, the Yemenis think it is near freezing here but their frame of reference doesn’t include snow. Nonetheless, they’re wearing leather coats and light winter coats.
2. The People- Most people here have been very helpful, friendly, and generous. When you visit a household, the hosts make you feel so honored, as if you have graced them by your presence. If you’re sitting straight up, they’ll tell you to relax, eat more, don’t leave yet, etc. One thing that urbndervish noticed is that many people will say to you after your conversation “Ayyi khidmah?” to find out how they can be of service to you.
3. The Mosques- There are mosques nearly everywhere here and some major stores have prayer areas too. Seeing so many visible (and audible) reminders of prayer and worship are a gentle reminder of God when you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle.
4. Araisi- Here’s the bowl of joy we wrote about earlier. Not only is it tasty, it’s healthy too! Fruit stands are called cafeterias here and they are more abundant than bakeries or candy shops in Sana’a. At these fruit stands you can purchase freshly blended juices, fruit cocktail desserts, and fruit/ice cream combinations. It’s so refreshing to see the old and young enjoying fresh fruit at any time of the day.
5. Cheap Produce- The produce here is delicious and cheap! All of the food pictured below cost us less than $5!
6. Bread- The bread here is often fresh, hot, and yummy! People eat bread with almost every meal here and you can easily see why. There are so many varieties of bread that you don’t get bored of eating bread everyday. We can even buy injera (the Ethiopian crepe-like bread) which goes great with curries and tomato stews.
7. Reduced Environmental Impact- The lifestyle here will certainly reduce your environmental impact (if you don’t include the plane ride). Every home has a clothes line and because the weather is so sunny and warm, you can line-dry your clothes almost any day. Also, the public transportation options are abundant and cheap. Most people don’t need a personal car here. You can easily eat a locally-grown diet because the variety is so abundant. Furthermore, the trash collectors sort your recyclables for you! They sort the plastic bottles and aluminum cans. I haven’t figured out which industries use the recycled materials but once I figure out how to have that conversation in Arabic, I’ll inform you of my research. 😉
8. Apparent Non-competitiveness- In Sana’a, you might find three to five stores on the same block that sell almost the same exact items but they don’t seem or feel competitive in the least. If you buy from them great, if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they recommend another store to you. La baas! (No problem)
9. Affectionate Men- The men here are very affectionate with their children; it doesn’t seem like they perceive women as the only nurturers of children. The hug, hold, and kiss their children freely, without reservation. Another observation that some may find strange is that it is not uncommon to see men holding hands as they walk down the street. You can even see them walking with their fingers interlaced. Mind you, these are heterosexual men, married or single, who will fight tooth and nail to protect the honor of their family, but they are “man enough” to be affectionate towards each other, without the fear of being perceived as “weak” or “gay”. Many men even kiss each other on the cheek when they greet, as do the women here. This practice is not just common in the Middle East but throughout many regions of the world as well.
10. Contentment with little- Lastly, most people seem to be content with little. One woman that I met at the mosque appeared to be very simple and humble in her dress and demeanor. I was shocked to learn that her husband was a former colonel in the army and that they live in a huge, beautiful home. When I visited her, she was the same humble soul I met in the mosque, in the same simple clothes. Urbndervish gets a kick out of watching the children play with seemingly odd toys. For example: a wheelbarrow, a box attached to a rope, an empty soda bottle, etc. These children are as giddy as sugar fiends playing X-Box, but they’re having a ball with their low-budget games and they’re actually doing some physical exercise! Urbndervish also noticed a group of boys walking down the block, arm-in-arm, some with shoes and some without, singing a nasheed (religious song) together and having a ball.