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Photographer's Note

The Illusion - this little town, nestled somewhere in the mountains between Wadi Dhahr and Shibam, is in actuality, a DEET factory.

It's said that people who live here don't live long, and children born here are always missing something...an arm, a leg, a portion of their heart, a couple of organs, a skull, a portion of their brain...if not worse. That's the ones that are born alive.

As we were driving out to go hiking around the mountains of Thula and Hababah we (my guide Suleiman, our driver Mohammed and myself) stopped on the highway about halfway. As we had just gotten past the military circle around the city (Sana'a) and were all (OK, maybe just me) a little rattled by the big 50mm on the back of a pickup that was just pointed as us, plus the arguing (that I really couldn't understand much of) that ensued at the checkpoint, with the military wanting to see my (non existant) permit to travel outside of Sana'a, that culminated in Suleiman finally convincing the soldiers that I wasn't from the US, but that I was from Atlanta (which everyone knew in Yemen from the videos they show of the most popular hardcore rap videos - after that they looked at me like I was some kind of crazy guy - but didn't realize Atlanta was actually in the US), we stopped at this little ledge above this town. (Sorry for the long sentence). Suleiman proceeded to tell me about the town. How it used to be a prosperous little trade and farming town. How the discovery of a plant that produces DEET changed the town, especially when the residents found out how much money they could make off of it. How things have been really bad in the last couple of years with health and how it was now a dying and ignored town, better to just let them die than try to help them, in his words...

For those who don't know what DEET is - it is the active ingredient in alot of mosquito sprays or deterrants. A little is OK, but start getting covered with it day in and day out, and you basically have the recipe for disaster to anything of biological makeup...

...on another note, when I saw this shot, I really thought "now this is a Peter shot"...just not as good as his, but the yellow circle of grass reminded me of one of those cacti, with the village in the center and mountains in the background...

Let me know what you think,
John

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Additional Photos by John Paskey (happypoppeye) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 515 W: 53 N: 959] (4817)
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