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Location: Kansas, United States

Friday, October 07, 2005

First Impressions at Aden

Aden, too, is a poor city with many, many immigrants from Africa. The fantastic feature of Aden is that it is surrounded with ancient lava flows. The mountains are lava beautiful reds, tans, blacks and greys. The beaches are also beautiful and there are some remote ones where few people go. Scuba diving is popular here because the sea is so clear. I walked out probably 100 yards and I could still see the bottom.

The capital city, Sana’a is located in the highlands and has a very temperate climate. Aden is at sea level, and it is hot here. Sweat is a constant. I’ve never lived anyplace before where I thought I should put on deodorant to go to sleep. I have two room air conditioners in my 4 room apartment and I am sweating now. Really it is hard to describe.

There are moments of grace too. The people here are lovely and kind. I had a moment of peace the other night and it didn’t even include chocolate. I left my classroom at 6 o’clock and pushed through the chaos of registration crowds talking, talking, talking, and I left the building. When I rounded the corner I was struck by the glowing pink sky above the palm trees. There was a conference of crows in a leafless tree, only the top of which was visible over the school walls. Then I noticed the green palm leaves and the silhouette of crows and stark branches against the pink. It was the hour of evening prayer, and echoing across the compound walls was the azan. I rounded the next corner, and saw the men, about two dozen, lined up, facing Mecca. One was singing lightly, or chanting. They stood straight and tall, in a straight line. Their red patterned prayer carpets were unrolled from their usual position against the wall of the compound, and the pink of the sunset and the red of the carpets merged and glowed in the corner where men spoke with God. I tiptoed past...the pink, the clouds, the crows...the hollow echoes of the azan, the earnest men and I knew God was listening and looking.


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