February 22, 2009
So, like, I got really bummed out. I decided I would take my camera apart and see if I could fix it and I screwed it up royally. I ignored my basic rule of taking electronic stuff apart: “If something doesn’t come apart easily, it doesn’t come apart.” The piece in point: the connection cable between the on/off/record switch on the handle. I used a pair of pliers to pull the connector from a cicuit board, and it was soldered onto the board. I’ve just turned a $200.00 repair bill anywhere up to a thousand. I will have to mail the camera back home and live without video. I was so bummed out, there was only one thing I could do to cheer myself up:
I had seen a painting in a small art store in the old city of Sanaa. It was for sale for $150.00 and I have to have it! But first I had to get some money. My Credit Union and Mastercards haven’t worked in Yemen, but for some reason my Scotiabank card does (it was the other way around in Ethiopia). The first ATM I went to was offline. And the second. I walked down to Az Zubayri Street where both Yemenia and Egyptian Airlines offices are located, but all the ATM’s were down. I stopped in at the restaurant where I’d got such a good deal on my roasted chicken lunch, but it was around 16:00 and they had just opened and had no food ready. I ordered shai bil halib, and they went next door to get it. Very disappointing! The Yemeni National Bank ATM still doesn’t take any of my cards, but I stopped at the Arabia Bank, and it accepted my Scotiabank. It dispenses American dollars! So I took out $300, and got three BRAND NEW American $100 bills.
I bought some oranges and apples (I still had some Yemeni money, then walked down to Bab El Yemen, a famous gate on the south wall of the old city of Sanaa. I wandered about for a bit and took some pictures and headed for the Sanaa Art Gallery. All the pictures are by an artist called Ryadh Al-Nabhany, and they are all very detailed and beautiful. He paints pictures of women dressed in bright patterned clothing, and the faces, though not rendered realistically, have a graceful iconic beauty that’s breath-taking. But the one picture that I really wanted was an interesting raised linepainting based on old Sabaen culture, and incorporates images and text from ancient Saba (as in Queen of Sheba). To make my visit more rewarding Al Nabhany was in the shop painting! I paid him $100 US and 10,000 Yr, and he wrapped the picture up for me. I will have to find some cardboard and bubble wrap so I can send it home. There is still another picture I want. It’s $90.00 and I will probably go buy it as well. He offered it to me for $80, but Mr. Cheapo decided he didn’t want to buy it, but I think I will have to.
Al Nabhany’s shop is just inside the old city, just off a road that is in a depression that used to be a wadi that flanked the west side of the old city. It’s not far from the Abbas mosque, and you can find it once you get to a small concrete park beside the roadway, then go east a half a block. Anyway, we had a nice chat, and I think I will go back tomorrow for the other picture, then mail all mys stuff off.
I stopped for fruit salad and coffee, then stopped for a bit at the Internet café , bought some pita bread and came back to the hotel. I have a good supply of groceries now. I still have a half a kilo of dates left, some cheese, bread and fruit, so I really don’t have to go out for food (though I probably will. This hotel doesn’t have its own restaurant so the lobby never has any guests in it, so I don’t have a lot of people to talk with here. The Oscars are on at 1AM but I will probably be fast asleep by that time. Ciao!