The kids that went on the Hodeida trip recently returned from their jaunt down to the coast. I stayed in Sana'a because of the small hope of making my own illicit travel plans and escaping Sana'a to go to Wadi Hawdramaut or Aden. By my reckoning, even a 5% chance of going down to the Hawdramaut was more worthwhile than doing the Tihama coast, where everything would have been like my trip to Oman. Unfortunately, the CLS people figured that I was staying in Sana'a for precisely this reason (I am getting waaaaaaay to easy to read) and put me on the no-go list for travel permits. This roadblock not withstanding, I still could have flown to Aden or Sayun, this negating the need for a travel permit, but alas, it was not to be. So, I stayed in Sana'a and slept, studied, and started working on my Fulbright application. And from what I have heard of the Hodeida trip, it sounds like I may have made the right choice regardless of whether I managed to escape. Amongst the casualties on the trip, one person came down with scabies (no, seriously), one person came down with a violent case of food poisoning that required IV's, and nearly required evacuation and morphine, and one person stepped on a sea anemone in the Red Sea. It was one of the nasty types too, that have the barbs pointing in the reverse direction of the penetration, so they can't be pulled out short of invasive surgery. Plus, there were the usual bug bites, and major sun burns that come with going to a Middle Eastern beach in 100 degree weather, which I found out about back in Muscat. So, I'm fairly glad I stayed far away from the Tihama Coast. I spent quite a bit of time hanging out in Bab as-Sabah, talking with Yemenis and dropping a lot of money on gifts. I got invited, along with the other CLS kids staying in Sana'a, to a lunch at a house of Bab as-Sabah, which turned out to be Yemeni equivalent of Thanksgiving. Our host Gemal, who works with the Ministry of the Interior dealing with tribes in Marib and the Hawdramaut, put on a five course meal, including special Ramadan dishes and Bint as Sahan, which is flaky bread dripping with honey. So, between the oppurtunities to practice my Arabic and the work I got done on the break, all in all I've been very pleased with the trip recently. Now, with the mid-summer break over, it's back to the grind.