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March 22, 2002

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Sticky weather on the coast, we don't stay in Huydayda for long. In the morning we hang out on the docks and watch fishermen lay out the night's catch - snapper, shark, kingfish. We dip our hands in the Red Sea, then drive down the coast. Along the way we see many Abyssinian immigrants from Ethiopia. These people have influenced local architecture, a Tihama style: round huts built from reeds, sticks, palm wood, and topped by steeply angled, cupola shaped roofs. It's Friday and we're lucky to catch a weekly market at Bayt al Fayeh. The weekly market system flourishes in Yemen, over 500 throughout Yemen. Trade in mocha coffee made these markets famous; the word mocha comes from Al Makha port nearby. Today, traders sell livestock, spices, and handicrafts. 'Cuppers' make the most interesting sight. Several customers lie in bed with hollow horns attached to their bare backs. The 'cupper' sucks the patient's blood through the hollow horns; it's believed to remove bad blood. We continue moving south until we reach Zabid, an old center of learning in the Muslim world. Within every mosque in Zabid is a Qu'ran school - the final exam requires reciting the entire Qu'ran from memory. The University of Zabid gained worldwide recognition; the word 'algebra' is attributed to one of Zabid's teachers, Ahmad al-Jaladi who taught Al-Jabr (certainly this discipline is much older but the Arabs preserved and retransmitted it to the West).
Market day.
Market day is a bad day for young camels destined for slaughter. We tried camel meat - not too bad, a gamey beef.
We stumbled on this classroom and it erupted with hyperactive and curious kids coming to shake our hands and ask questions or yell hello. The teacher used a switch to beat the unruly kids back to their seats.
Overlooking Zabid, a small town that looks more imposing in the history books.