T-5

Next week at this time, I’ll be soaking in the heat of Dubai. I say ‘soaking in’ because today it topped 48 C and combined with the humidity, I bet it feels a lot like a vat of stew.
I’m down to the last five days of waiting, and unfortunately they won’t be filled with parties and last hangouts. Instead I’ll be calling comcast to cancel my subscription. I’ll be checking on maintenance fees at Wells Fargo and trying to figure out where my USAA ATM card has gone. I have to give USMail a forwarding address and a half-dozen other annoying but necessary things. Oh, and I need to find a place to live in Amman.
Today I got the last of my necessaries, which includes putting down another $100 on camera stuff: rechargeable batteries and a two-year protection plan with Geek Squad. Now if I could just figure out how to use it…

Driving in Yemen

Yemen village through windshield

The more time I spend with A, the more I learn that Yemen is just a crazy place. It’s *noisy*! Honking and shouting all the time. A says chaos is just part of the culture. It’s surprisingly true. I mean, all the Yemenis I know in UAE (all two of them, right?) are so mild. But here, the Yemenis are really different. Kids shout to me on the streeets, they come to A’s windows and shout; one kid today even climbed on my door and hitched a ride a few metres. At the traffic lights (which they obey with surprising integrity) vendors come up to the window and try to sell you water or tissues or tapes. Yesterday we were stopped at a light and Amal asked the guy for a certain tape. He pulled out three and A was loooking at them when the light turned green. Honk! from behind.

Khalas! She said, hurriedly returning his tapes and stepping on the gas.
I asked her it takes to get a drivers license in Yemen. She says, Nothing.

Nothing??

She said, Nothing. I went to the place and he said can you drive? I said Duh, why else would I be here? Okay, said the man. And gave her a license.

If you can drive in Yemen, you can drive anywhere, she told me. Driving in Yemen is as chaotic as you’d expect, but I think it’s worse in Beirut and Egypt. A’s favorite place on the road is smack dab in the center. I said A! Just pick a lane!

No! She insisted. It’s all mine! And she laughed.

It’s a good thing they can’t go very fast here. She put on the brakes tonight and I discovered that the seatbelt wasn’t so great. I remarked that I’m probably the only one in the country even wearing a seatbelt. She thought for a second and said, u’re probably right.

To Converse, You Must First Be Able to Speak

Throne of Queen ShebaDay 3

I made it a goal to write at the end of each day. Boy, that sure lasted.

Yesterday was my first class. It was fine. Actually, I thought it would be easier than it turned out to be. I asked to work on conversation because I feel I have a lot of knowledge of Arabic, I just don’t know how to express myself and since I want to be able to talk with people, I figured I should focus on conversation. The Director asked if it was important if I had someone who spoke English.
I said, Well, yeah. I would prefer that.
He said, Maybe one of the two teachers will be, but it’s best that I have someone who speaks only Arabic because otherwise we’ll revert to English.
My teacher is Afrah, from a little viallge whose name I’ve forgotten (heck, i’m not even sure that it’s a small village). She speaks minimal English. It was so tough! She just came in and we started speaking Arabic and I realized how helpful it would be to have someone who spoke English. What I want is someone to explain to me Arabic syntax and grammar and use of prepositions. Anyway, I was able to stumble my way through an hour (maybe more? Not sure) unharmed. She spoke too fast for me most of the time, so the feeling of accomplishment was all the greater when I actually understood what she meant. I think with a little more studying on my part (okay, a lot) I’ll be able to communicate well at the end of these three weeks.
She also helped me with pronunciation and taught me some new vocab. It’s going to be very good, but I haven’t studied much :s. I’ve been out with A!!