HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Hello from Yemen (13 msgs / 334 lines)
1) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
Hi all - Glad to report that all is well here in Yemen. In fact, it 
is more than well, it is fantastic! I don't want to sound like I have 
lost my marbles, but when we were out in the countryside, it was so 
unreal I felt I could be dreaming. And that's not because of the Chat 
(the leaves they chew ... a mild stimulant, less so than coffee. ... 
Then again, you don't drink coffee for 3 hours straight!) The most 
remarkable thing is that we were in fact kidnapped, well, ambushed 
... well, ambushed with hospitality. We were driving back from the 
port city of Hodaida and the coffee farmers from Bani Ismaili region 
flagged us down on the main road and insisted we visit them. What we 
didn't know was exactly how distant, rugged, and difficult the trip 
would be. The road was nearly impassible in our 4wd in some places - 
we got wedged between rocks - the drop-off incredibly sheer, as we 
climbed between spires of their mountain-top homes, centuries-old 
spires of stone and mud, up to 2000 meters where the road ended. Then 
we hiked at least a kilometer on a "path" where much of the time you 
were boulder-hopping or holding on with hands and wondering if the 
rocks would hold. We ended up at the village of Mayan, home to around 
40 people, and there was no return --- too late to navigate the path 
back to the cars. We ate, drank Keshir (the tea made from coffee 
cherry skins) until late and night, and slept on blankets on the 
floor of our host. The coffee is entirely grown on terraces of stone 
- theres so much rock that there's simply 4-5 feet of soil visible 
around most trees, and the rest is paved with stone giving the 
appearance that all the trees on the terraces are "potted" by stone. 
The work it took to do this is amazing, but the terraces are at least 
200- years old. Still, I think you understand my "dream-like" feeling 
--- the nearest comparison is to imagine that the Hopi indians farmed 
coffee, and still lived in cliff dwellings. Anyway, it's not all like 
that. We are back at the Sheraton in Sanaa, the one fancy motel (the 
luxury of the Sheraton is something I fully appreciate after being 
out in the coffee areas - but the room is like a Motel 6 really) ... 
my room service sandwich and beer cost $50 last night! Then again, to 
surprise Maria I got a Yemeni haircut that makes me look like a GI, 
in old Sana'a last evening, and it cost $3 with a tip. Best haircut i 
ever had too. We spent time in the Saihi valley, and Hirazi region. 
We could not get to Bani Matar, but that is where the few coffee 
people from the US who visit here (I know of 5) always go anyway. To 
our knowledge, Duane and I are the FIRST US coffee people to go to 
Ismaili. Even the exporter from Sana we traveled with had not been 
there. We asked the villagers and they only had been visited by 
hikers from Germany and Italy who occasionally come to visit the 
ancient Christian church and castle on top of the Ismaili mountain. I 
don't know if I can send this email on the lousy Sheraton email 
system - we'll see.
PS: A big shock for me is the fact that, in this remote Ismaili 
region, Duane's iPhone worked ... it's hard to wrap my mind around 
the idea of checking email, texting, checking GPS or googlemaps while 
you are in a remote village with only the most basic conveniences. 
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com

2) From: Sandy Andina
Congrats, Tom--the Sheraton's e-mail system works!
On Nov 18, 2007, at 6:29 AM, Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee wrote:
Sandy Andina

3) From: Steve
On Nov 18, 2007, at 6:29 AM, Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee wrote:
Glad things are amazing in Yemen, great story.  You are doing
something I've always wanted to be able to do.  The world is such a
big place, and going out to places like that must really put things
into perspective.  Crazy that the iPhone worked.  I sometimes lose
reception in my apartment building! :)

4) From: Lynne
Thank you SO much, Tom, for sending this (yes, the hotel email service
I envy you - this is the type of travel I would so love to experience.
Incredible... wow.
(But I actually held my breath when I read your words, "we were kidnapped.."
scare us like that! (grin)
Of course, I know others are thinking the same thing - I hope you'll have
plenty of photos
to post after you get back... AND we are anxiously waiting to hear about
what coffees you'll
bring back (of course)!
I don't have any Yemen coffee here, but I am as I sip my morning Colombian
Supreme I
will be thinking of you (with your new GI-Yemen haircut!!)
Oh - as a Mac user, I couldn't but help to think how this is iPhone ad
material ("GPS your way
around Yeman & email & text your friends back home with the iPhone") Note to
self: if I ever
actually fulfill my dream of traveling in the remote areas of the world,
make sure to get an iPhone
Take care, Tom -

5) From: Frank Awbrey
Great post, Mr. "G.I.", but where are the pics :>)? I just happen to be
sipping on a great 4 day rest of Yemen Mokha Sana'ani.
"Still the one"

6) From: Larry Johnson
Thanks for the great post, Tom. What an adventure! I'd give a gold
Guinea to be tagging along with you guys, except I'm probably not up
to the task of boulder-hopping my way up a mountain. I suppose I'll
just have to be content to live vicariously through your descriptions.
Travel safely and keep us posted when you can.
Larry J
On Nov 18, 2007 7:29 AM, Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee

7) From: Frank Parth
Great story, Tom. Keep 'em coming.
Ain't technology wonderful? When it works, of course.
Frank Parth

8) From: gin
way cool Tom, I am jealous. I would love to go on one of those trips. you should set up a trip and take a couple of listers along, any price would be worth it!!
---- Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee  wrote: 

9) From: miKe mcKoffee
Thanks for the interesting early in Country report Tom. Look forward to your
usual detailed report with pictorials when you return!
Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
Sweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/

10) From: DJ Garcia
Great to hear from you and that all is more than well, Tom - how I wish I
was there with my camera!
Have an enjoyable and safe return trip!

11) From: Dave Ehrenkranz
I am also envious and appreciative of your travels. Although I am  
sure you miss home, you are lucky to have a career that allows/needs  
you to travel on such great adventures. Thanks for sharing with the  

12) From: raymanowen
On wings of Silicon and 3.3 volts, we join you with jaded anticipation. This
brings back the memories of my first steps onto the Don Muang airfield at
Bangkok many years ago after a prolonged sunset over from Clark.
Just a job- or duty- to some of us I suppose, but after the red exhaust
manifolds on the 4360 Pratt and Whitney hemis burning 140 octane fuel in 28
cylinders each, it was a staggering introduction to the orient and Buddhist
temples. The reality was much greater than the images in the geography
People and Siamese customs, not just pictures and words.
A Book- Places I've been, and their coffee customs. Needs intense research!
Cheers and Thanks, Tom -RayO, aka Opa!
The story goes on-
On Nov 18, 2007 3:08 PM, DJ Garcia 

13) From: Dave Kvindlog
Great adventures and even better coffee as a reward.  It's not really
"work" if you enjoy it.  Wow.  I'm jealous.  I'm in the wrong
Have a safe trip and Happy Thanksgiving!
Dave Kvindlog
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
On Nov 18, 2007 6:29 AM, Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee

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