Photos from Stars and Stripes reporter Terry Boyd’s visit to Yemen in April 2006. For more on Yemen, read his accompanying story, “In Yemen, nothing is quite what it seems.”

For Westerners, the sight of women wearing head and face coverings is disconcerting. Nearly all Yemeni women — though not all Muslim women working there — cover up. But it’s common to see stilleto heels and blue jeans peeking out underneath the black material.

Life in Yemen revolves around “khat,” a mild stimulant/euphoric that is highly addictive. Nearly all Yemeni men, and many women, chew the bright green leaves beginning after lunch.

Arguably, Yemen has some of the world’s original skyscrapers, such as this mosque and minaret reaching five stories above the city streets.

Could buildings such as these in Yemen’s old city be the world’s first skyscrapers? Some of the multi-story residences are 400 years old, predating Manhattan’s high-rise apartments by three centuries.

Motorists in Sana’a drive on what was designed as a huge canal, meant to channel storm waters out of the city. When the rains come, heedless drivers often end up with submerged cars.

Although most women older than 18 wear the “hijab,” Yemeni girls and young women seem to live lives that, through the Western lens, appear more liberated than those in other Arab countries. But hardly anything in Yemen is as it seems.

A merchant shows off his finest jambiya, the curved-blade knives in ornate sheathes that all Yemeni men carry. Cheap tourist versions sell for as little as $5, with old, collectible knives selling for thousands.

When he saw a reporter admiring his house, Daris, a young merchant, invited him in for a tour and a chew of the highly addictive “khat,” which his guests politely declined.

Sana’a architecture runs from rather crude buildings from the 16th century to incredibly detailed 19th century buildings, such as this mansion with intricate, arched fans over windows. The fans are mostly hollow and allow air to circulate.

Though firearms are theoretically banned in Sana’a, this young man has a Kalashnikov assault rifle ... and a wink and mischevious smile for the photographer.

Sana’a has some of the best bazaars in the world, full of everything from tourist gimcracks to fine jewelry to fake "antiquities" made in the village of Zabied. Here, a spice dealer sorts bulk beans for the famous Yemeni coffee.

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