Posts tagged ‘Heat’

SKETCHES OF THE FIRST WEEK

HARRA–youm al-awaal

When I stepped off of the Embraer Royal Jordanian plane that brought me from Amman, down the Red Sea, over part of Saudi Arabia and into Aden International, I instantly started sweating. Instead of a jet bridge connecting the plane to the concourse, a portable stairway was rolled up to the door of the plane. I smiled at the gorgeous stewardess, stepped on the staircase’s platform, and the hot air affixed itself to every exposed part of my body. It was the first time I had been outside since I entered Chicago O’Hare about 20ish hours before.

 It was 30 degrees Celsius.

It was extremely humid.

It was 4 o’clock in the morning.

I was led to a room in the hotel Daibani, and towards the first bed I’d seen in 36ish hours. Mercifully, the room was air conditioned.

Although I was exhausted, I couldn’t sleep. The fan was swirling furiously and the air conditioning unit created a steady hum. As dawn started to peer into the room through the cracks in the curtain, I opened my eyes, closed them, opened them, and closed them. I was cool now, and, despite the excitement and anxiety about this new place, I was relatively calm. I cocked my head back, pulling the curtain behind me a bit, to sneak a peek at this wild new place. The building across the way from my window seemed abandoned, with chipping paint and dark windows. It seemed as if no one had lived, worked on, or even entered the building in a hundred years. A sleek dark figure floated overhead, and then landed on the window sill of a cavernously dark window. The crow made this unbelievable sound, like it was begging for something, or wanted the world to hear its grievances.

 

I was thinking of all those troubles here, mostly concerning poverty and political control rather than fundamentalism, that seemed so abstract to me.

While I was drinking a glass of wine in the Amman Airport the night before, Al Jazeera reported on a car bombing in the northern Yemeni city of Sa’ada, killing 18 people and injuring dozens. There had been a sporadic insurgency led by some group, for some reason.

I had read about the unification of north and south Yemen, the Zaidis, the restive tribes in the north, coups, assassinations, the Cole, etc..

But it all seemed to complicated. 

 

…oh, to sleep…to dream…to let all of those pieces scramble around in the head and hopefully to wake up with them in some sort of coherent semblance…

——

The next day was hotter, probably around 95 F and humid. I hadn’t fallen asleep until at least 8am and I was roused at 11:30 by my alarm clock. Us new teachers-there were three of us, two Americans and one Austrian who had spent the last few years in Colorado-were to meet with the teacher coordinator of Amideast in Aden and the country director.

I was spacing it. When Nafisa, the teacher coordinator, asked me a question, I had trouble formulating an answer. It was still looking at that damned crow.

Later on in the evening, Edward, the country director, took us for a quick tour of Aden. Edward explained Aden–its pervasive poverty, average of seven children per healthy woman, annual per capita income well under $1000, ethnic diversity, and history of colonialism–in a droll and slightly ironic way that reminded me of Kevin Spacey. We saw the Arabian peninsula’s first public housing project, a Jewish cemetery, Christian churches, teeming neighborhoods, towering American and European hotels, and lots and lots of idle young people.

We stopped at a park along the industrial side of Aden (the side of the Gulf where the industry made the water unswimable).  A breeze gently nudged us, and for the first time the weather was pleasant. Then Edward pointed out the spot where the USS Cole was bombed at around the same time in 2001.

May 9, 2008 at 11:30 am 1 comment


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