World Cup and Qat

Unfortunately I don’t have pictures from this event, but I am hoping I can placate you with a picture of a puppy that lives at the college and a view of Sana’a from the sitting room (mafraj=مفرج؟) at the top of our dorm.

Anyway, the title explains the gist of our experience. Yesterday our teacher took us to watch the Spain vs. Portugal game at a sports club/soccer stadium about ten minutes away. We arrived a bit late because I was getting two days worth of falafel and shawarma out of my system, so there wasn’t much seating left. We found a place to squat in the back, in front of the large screen on which the game was being projected.

I have to say that when a few thousand Yemeni (all men of course) get together, they are some of the quietest fans you’ll ever see. This calm is most likely caused by Qat that seems to permanently reside in the mouths of most Yemeni. For those who don’t know, Qat is a plant with a mild narcotic effect that many Yemenis chew in the afternoons/evening. It is illegal in the US, but a staple of Yemeni society.

Don’t get me wrong, the Yemenis weren’t silent; everyone responded to the usual cues during the game, especially the lone goal by Spain. In addition, one of the loudest cheers of the night came when a pretty Spanish girl appeared on the big screen. However, as you could probably guess, the overall experience was much different than watching the game in Amsterdam.

One major difference was that David and I switched beer for a little bit of Qat. We didn’t chew enough to feel the effect, but it was an introduction none the less. David’s leaves disintegrated quickly, and I accidently dislodged mine trying to take a drink of water. Our next Qat chewing experience will be more successful, إن شاء الله.


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