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March 20, 2002

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Turban and sunglasses cover my face, Jill hides under her veil, we duck police checkpoints. Most of the time we go through without questions. If they think we're foreigners we tell them we're from Singapore. That confuses them enough to let us go. Our guide calls these police "ignorant Bedouins." If they knew we were Americans they might detain us or send a platoon of soldiers to follow us for our protection. The drive through the Al Mahwit region, west of Sana'a, is beautiful. It's moist, mountainous country, not desert. We pass stone villages perched on seemingly inaccessible mountain peaks, overlooking springs, watercourses, terraced fields cut into valleys and hillsides. We visit three towns, Kawkabam, Thula, and Hababa.
Thula and Hababa are perfectly preserved highland towns of stone tower houses. Elaborate friezes and wall textures create the impression that each house is unique even though they're made from the same material.
Dar Al Hajjar - this palace is a symbol of the country, depicted on Yemeni Riyal notes. Imam Yahya built it during the 1930's on the site of old ruins.
Village girls wear more colorful clothes (other than black dress and veil) until they're older.
Ninja Jill. Haven't adjusted to seeing her in Yemeni dress.