Sana'a is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The people here are so friendly I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful it is. They are very curious and always smiling. Being here is like being in a hive of intricate nostalgia. There is nothing i have ever seen that is truly this ancient and authentic. Sights such as camels strapped to contraptions and strutting in circles to crush sesame seeds for oil. We got invited to a wedding part in the streets last night. As we approached up one of this city's many winding streets, I could hear the excitement echoing like stream of birds. Rounding the corner is a sight I will never forget. A swarm of fireworks, dancing and live music. The men moved in circles wielding enormous blades. They moved with pride, as if their fathers who had taught them were joining in the saga. Fireworks would periodicaly erupt from the center and all would run in laughter and song. Four men played flute and drums and other instruments. Another held a microphone which was connected to a sole megaphone type speaker atop a roof. Women sang from the balconies directly above. We were hurried this way and that. Everyone welcomed us and asked us of we would like to chew qat with them. Our cheeks were already stuffed with what was supposedly the best qat in town. Suddenly we were summoned to greet the groom. He was surrounded in an entourage of 10 or 15 men with no space between them. I was shoved by his side, but had to be careful of his large Kalishnakov machine gun. A few photos were taken and I was quickly, yet lovingly pulled to the perimeter. Luckily I was able to record most of the sounds. Joshie has been wielding his fisheye camera and I my small digital recorder. Because most of Sana'a is free of cars... or any sense of modernity... the quality of our takes are outstanding. From the fully burka'd women, the qat chomping men, the elated and constantly playing children to the glimmering knives, decorated motorcycles, and shimmering prayer songs of the mosques. All is beautiful. All is enchanted.
Today was spent hunting for sounds and photos. To our amazement, but were beyond plentiful. Most agreed to be shot. The adult women, of course, were forbidden. We snuck as many as we could, but many times there eyes were to obscured to see if they were looking. The children often flock to us and follow us for a few blocks before being replaced by a new gang. It was quite a joy to show them the photos we were taking of them. To be certain, the people are among the friendliest I have ever known. I'm constantly catching their curious stares. A simple smile and they melt into agreeable teddy bears. The common outfit is a head scarf, a skirt like wrap, a western sport coat and a decorative belt bearing a 9 inch knife in the center. Although it appears merely as a style, we did encounter two men with knives pulled on eachother in a wrestling argument. After a bit of tussle, they parted. Although the knives were mere inches from each other's faces, no one seemed to react in extreme emotion. Just another day in Yemen. After a full day of winding exploration we were guided by a 6 or 7 year old girl to the local spot for Salta. This lamb stew is delicious, boiling hot and served with fresh warm bread. After our fill we spent the rest of the day chewing qat and finally chasing the sunset with the fisheye camera. I will never forget these few days among the last reminents Arabian culture as it was before oil.