What brings you back

Last month I was set to leave for a vacation to SE Asia after 10 consecutive months living in Sana’a (the longest uninterrupted stay of any journalist ever as far as I know). Two days before I was supposed to leave, the Arhab tribe began making threats against the Sana’a airport after weeks of constant aerial bombardment. The robust Yemen news rumor mill set to work soon thereafter. Twitter was “tracking” how many kilometers Arhabis were away from the airport and off and on reports of an airport closure popped up periodically.

Not being able to bear the uncertainty, I threw my things together in two bags and rushed to the airport 36 hours before my flight was scheduled to leave. I wanted to be there and listen to the fighting so I knew first hand just how close it was getting. I simply sat on the curb with my bags and listened.

But no matter the level of violence, fear, or uncertainty plaguing Yemen, Yemenis are still Yemenis. If one thing could be said about the people of this country it is that, they are unceasingly Yemeni. What that means is that I only managed to sit on that curb for about an hour before airport employees came up to me and started chatting. A half hour later I was having dinner with them. Immediately after that I walked with them to the nearest qat market and soon enough we were sitting in their office and chewing, trying to ease my anxiety as the artillery boomed in the distance. Continue reading