Settling In

09 January 2017

I am now settled safe and sound in my mission in Sana’a, Yemen. It was quite a long journey, and my body is still getting used to the time difference. I am 11 hours ahead of Vancouver! I haven’t quite gotten into my health and fitness routines yet, but I think I will soon.

The country is quite lovely. Unfortunately we are not allowed to take pictures outside, but it really is beautiful. The city I am in has a lot of mountains, but they are a bit different than the mountains in Vancouver. I am not sure how to describe them, but maybe not as green with trees, but more brown with dirt, but still really pretty. The architecture reminds me a lot of India.

My room has a lot of stained glass windows all around, and it kind of has that Moroccan swirly kinda feel to it.  My room is enormous, but really empty. When they said we would be sharing a “house”, this isn’t quite like I pictured it. To me, it seems like more of an old run down mismatched mansion that is very cold and empty, but with the very basic furniture you need, with no extras. I don’t want to sound too negative though, because from what I understand this is quite nice compared to what some of my colleagues experience in other missions so I do appreciate it. I think that probably I have been pretty pampered at home, so it will just take some time to get used to.  We have many non-local people living here (Expats, like me), and a lot of local staff who come and go all day long. It is nice to see them all, but it doesn’t really feel like a “house” in the typical sense.

I know you are probably all wondering about my safety. I actually feel perfectly safe. Honestly I do! Because I am limited to the compound (house and office) and never leave outside the compound, I don’t see much. I go to work next door to where I live, and I travel through the yard, no outside access. The staff all seems very happy and seem to have no trouble getting to work on time every day. I can hear the bombing and airstrikes, but it is kind of hard to tell that is what it is. It sounds more like rolling thunder, or slamming doors. But most of the time I don’t even notice anything at all.

I do not have to wear the Hijab (head covering) and abaya (cloak) after all.  Before coming here I thought I would have to wear it all the time, but it will only be when I go out to projects. But because I packed such little suitable work clothes, then I actually prefer wearing the abaya (cloak), so I have been wearing it each day, but the national staff keep telling me not to. Haha. I guess I kind of look a bit ridiculous because I keep tripping on it, and rolling it under my chair and getting stuck. I almost fell down the stairs! But I will keep wearing it during the week, and when I work on the weekends I will wear jeans. Ironically, I still wear the scarf around my neck, but it is because I did this at home too. It is really cold here and this keeps me warm.

As I mentioned it is really cold! There are no heaters in the houses like in Canada. We do have some portable heaters, but because we are on a generator, the power is turned off all night, and I find it too cold. I think I have another month or two of cold, and then it will warm up. They daytime has a bit of sun and warmth, but because I work quite long hours indoors, I don’t get to see much of it. We have eaten lunch a couple times in the sun on a picnic table beside the house, which was really nice.

Oh, and the most important thing! They DO have candy here! Apparently our department has a non-official “rule” that if you do something wrong, you have to pay everyone by giving a Kit Kat! Haha, of course this is just a joke, but that is how I found out about the candy. This made me very happy.