Tuesday, April 5, 2011

John Cena

For me, one of the joys of traveling has been listening to locals guess my nationality.  Whether I was jumping into a taxi, or just walking down the street, these are some comments I received:

"Ahh, a German.  Welcome."
"Are you from Canada?"  "No, dude, he's Amish."
"Syrian? You look Syrian.  Some Syrians have very light skin."
"François! Parlez vous François?" 
"You from the Netherlands?"

The list could go on, but, today, a kid topped all the said guesses.  In fact, he didn't need to guess my country of origin, because he knew exactly who I was.
While making routine purchases at a local snack shop, I noticed the eyeballs of a scraggily delinquent staring me down (he couldn't have been more than five or six years old).  I faced him and asked: "How are you?".  He was frozen with shock; his eyes and mouth gaped awestruck.  Again, I asked: "How are you?" .  His eyes became even wider, highlighting the contrast between the mud caked on his face and his white eyes.   With hardly a whisper, he squeaked: "John Cena?".  With more confidence he vanquished doubt and declared, "You ARE John Cena." 
Although parallels exist between John Cena and me, like a steroid jaw and an unhealthy muscle mass, I am not John Cena.  But, damnit, I looked that kid straight in the eye, assumed the POA (position of attention), gave him a military salute, said: "I AM John Cena", and briskly walked away.  
That kid is going to bed tonight knowing that Yemen is in the best of hands, John Cena's.


I had some visa issues, so I'm leaving Yemen, and in a couple of hours I'll be in Ethiopia.  Hopefully I'll be able to return to Yemen quickly with a new working visa.  
The revolution in Yemen still persists, and although many are fatigued, momentum continues to grow for the anti-Saleh demonstrators.  And, although I've learned that Middle Eastern predictions rarely materialize, many of my Yemeni friends tell me Saleh's exit is soon, and I agree. 

John Cena

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