Katmandu living

the van de Wiel/Schou Hansen family blog

It is now our last day in the Sheraton hotel. The kids are in the pool and Lieke is sitting and enjoying the sun (if you wonder about the weather here, it is clear sky, 25c). We have decided to move down to our house today. It is far from ready, but as we have just learned that the shipment will probably be delayed for 25 days it does not make sense to wait for it. So we are moving today and will hopefully be able to get gas and the washing machine working tomorrow, after which our house should be semi functional. Yesterday we went to visit Lieke’s boss – it was a very nice afternoon, though the kids are still not very good at entertaining themselves. Tomorrow I will have to go and get the gas done, and will also start to look for a satellite dish and a television and after that it is only to the car that is left before we are ready when the shipment arrives. We have bought two enormous mattresses so now we will have to start to camp out in the house. I think we all look forward to it. With all the toys the kids got for Christmas they should be OK in the new house. Anyway, now that we leave the Sheraton it will be a bit more difficult to post our progress on this site, so the updates might become a bit more erratic until we get our own internet connection. I will however try to give Lieke some text and pictures with her to work to publish.

Hello all, Lieke here: my time in the sun was exactly 5 minutes because the kids were in the pool by then. Nothing more to report except that it is great to be in an environment and country that challenges all the assumptions one has and makes you rethink a lot (for example, the office agenda I got opens from the ‘other way’. Also very nice is to see that the Liva and Joop take everything as it comes and don’t get afraid at all. Having said that it is time that they get a bit of a normal life with a decent routine so will report soon about how that has worked (knowing how naturals we are in establisheing that for ourselves). Love to all.

I am now back in the hotel after a hectic day of shopping. We now finally got a fridge, a stove and a washing machine, but it has also taken me 6 hours of shopping and waiting. I really have to get used to the different speed here in Yemen. In the beginning everything seemed to go smoothly. After checking around at a couple of shops I found the deal that I fought would be the best for buying the combination of things that we needed. When we came to discussing delivery they asked if I wanted the things delivered in half an hour or one hour. Not being used to Yemen I took it for granted that this was a choice between two equally good options, so neither Jamal (my taxi driver) nor I asked them about the difference between these two options. However, when the things arrived to the house it turned out that the both the fridge and the stow was the demo models from the shop and therefore also were very scratched. When we returned to the shop they of course told us that the difference between the one hour and the half hour solution was if we wanted to new stuff or the semi used stuff. All of a sudden it would however take an additional one and a half hour before they could deliver from the warehouse, so I got much time to talk to Jamal and through him get some insights into the Yemeni society so the time by no mean wasted. He for example told me that the bridal price for his wife had been 300,000 Rial or approximately 1500 dollars, out of which he had borrowed the 120,000 from his uncle. I also learned that Yemeni men are able to see their wife before marrying her – this is a question that has been on my mind ever since we arrived here as I do not really understand how the whole dating scene can happen when you never see a woman. It however happen under more civil circumstances than the western dating as the woman and the man are introduced when the two families meet and that the man is after that able to see the woman’s face in a room under the supervision of a member of the woman’s family. When we saw a shop for bridal dresses, I asked Jamal what they were used for as there were no covers for the faces. He told me that they were used for the weddings and when I looked a bit puzzled he said that the weddings were of course strictly divided between men and women, and that there was wherefore no risk of any men seeing the woman’s face.

Both Joop and Liva has now started in the international school. I have been joining them the last two days as everything is still pretty new and judging by these first two days I will have be there for a good while yet. Liva has been crying so much when I have not been around that Joop has had to join Liva’s class the first two days. The school is however a paradise for kids – they have anything they could ask for and is much more sophisticated than their old school in Mexico. Every 30 minutes the kids move to a new room where they do something different and Liva really seem to enjoy herself as long as I am around. I just look forward to the time when I will not be needed.

Tomorrow I will continue the shopping and go with Jamal to the ring-road to buy some mattresses and a carpet so we can finally move into our new house. Still no news about the arrival of our shipment. Maybe we will get news tomorrow – Enchala, as they say here, which means something like “if god will”.

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We have finally arrived in Yemen after quite a long journey, not at least for the kids (and I) who have been living out of a suitcase at almost all family members. Coming to think about it, it has only been Martijn and Maki out of our whole immediate family where we have not spent at least one night (and as they live in Hong Kong I think it is understandable that we never got about to visiting them). Anyway, though it has been nice for us to be in Europe and see the whole family over Christmas it has of course also been pretty confusing for the kids and we are therefore also happy that we can now finally see and end to this gypsy life style. Not that these days are not confusing. After leaving Europe we have done much to turn day and night around. First of all we arrived at 6.00 yesterday morning to Dubai. With a time difference of 3 hours it was actually only 3.00 in the morning in our heads so the kids were pretty difficult to get out of the plane. Little did it help that our room was not ready when we arrived to Le Meridian, so we had to sit in the lobby for almost one and a half hour before we could go up and get some rest. We didn’t see much of Dubai – on the suggestion of the hotel we went to a shopping mall that was supposed to have a small fairground. However, it turned out that the fairground was closed to respect the mourning over the death of the ruler of Dubai. We however got around to do a bit of shopping. There was no big differences between Dubai and Mexico in this aspect. We did most of our shopping at Carrefour, which looked almost exactly like the Carrefour where we used to do most of our shopping in Mexico. We managed to buy a couple of electricity transformers, something we have been looking for in Europe for a month now. I guess all it took was to go to a French supermarket in Dubai.

This morning we got up at 4.00, as our plane left from Dubai at 7.00. After a short and uneventful trip we arrived in Yemen. It was like stepping into a totally different world. Already in plane you saw the difference as almost all women were fully covered except for a letterbox size slit to look out through. Arriving at Sana’a International Airport was a bit like arriving a small version of Delhi Airport. The same kind of smells and the same chaos, though much cleaner. From we airport we went directly to the Sheraton Hotel (Liva is saying that we have not arrived in Yemen yet but in Dubai Yemen – I guess she is trying to say that we are still living at this kind of impersonal hotel and that we will only arrive in Yemen when we have a house). Anyway, after a few hours of sleep and waiting for 45 minutes for the driver (which was probably the real introduction to Yemen – there seem to be a lot of waiting going on in this country) we went to Lieke’s office where we got a chance to meet many of Lieke’s colleagues before we went to see the house, and I must say, the pictures does not really do it justice. It is a absolutely perfect house and it is easy to see why Lieke fell in love right away. It has a lot of rooms though the 16 rooms that Lieke has mentioned in discussions with me will have to include both storage and bath rooms. It has a lovely roof top and beautiful views over Old Sana’a. I can’t wait to get down there and start to explore all those alleyways and small streets with markets etc.

The next couple of days will be used to get organized. We will have to buy a fridge and will also have to start finding all the other necessities like Stove, Washing machine and TV, so we can get ready to move in on the 15th when we take over the house. It is right now our plan to buy a few mattresses and camp out the first few days. We are still not sure when we will get our shipment. It is supposed to arrive in the harbor on 15th but before it has been cleared and driven to Sana’a it will probably be at least the 20th .

Anyway it is getting close to 24.00 here in Sana’a so I better stop. I will try to publish this from the lobby (they are supposed to have wireless there) tomorrow sometime.

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