Listen to your “gat” sometimes…

YemenIsrael_FValabregaPhotos2013-3

Yav Neel is a little town above the Sea of Galelee also known as Kinneret in the north of Israel.
I was there this past July for a whole day driving around looking for photos to take.
It was hot and sweaty and I had taken a hundred frames of these little girls playing “dress-up” already, when I ran into a friend of a friend *(what are the odds, but it’s indeed the Israeli way) who took me to this welcoming Yemenite family of father and sons who were having a man-only afternoon in their goat farm. They had this ritual to get away from home, family, wives, children and screaming infant, and just chill in the Golan Hills overseeing the Jordan Valley while chewing Gat (the Yemenite equivalent of Mate de Coca).

They spoke very little English, so we mostly communicated by gestures and the first question I was ask before my name was was formulated by the uncle who looked at my right hand and asked me where my ring was. I said I did not have one. He said well, I have someone for you. I replied I did not want “someone” I was not looking. I won’t until I am ready. But, you are never really ready he said back. It just happens. Well, it has not happened to me yet and that’s ok. I am here to take photos and to make a book, that’s all. No husband hunt involved.

That was the time he finally dropped it. Went inside, broke open another plastic bag of Gat and offered me some. I refused and he said, “It’ ok to refuse a wedding proposal, but you are in a Yemenite house now, you must chew some Gat.” And so I did, got stoned out of chewing some green leaves of this weird plant grown all the way in the desert of Yemen. The wedding discussions did not end, though, they just got softer and tamed by the nice “flavor” of the plant.

I left unmarried and strongly convinced my position was indeed valid. The uncle smiled at me and saying in hebrew…liat, liat (step by step).

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