Eating the Flowers of Paradise: A Journey Through the Drug Fields of Ethiopia and Yemen

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9780006530886: Eating the Flowers of Paradise: A Journey Through the Drug Fields of Ethiopia and Yemen

A languorous and memorable journey along the centuries-old trade route from the Ethiopian highlands to the ancient cities of Yemen.

Drawn back to the Yemen by idyllic memories of age-old cities, spectacular mountains and, most of all, the dreamy afternoons spent chewing the stimulant leaf of the qat tree, Kevin Rushby set out to travel the old trade route from the highlands of Ethiopia to Yemen. The journey is at times dangerous, often comic; and by accepting the invitation to take qat at every opportunity, he encounters a wonderful array of characters – criminals, Islamic scholars, an exorcist, and the mysterious Cedric, the travelling companion from hell who offers to help Rushby find a dhow across the Red Sea.

This is the story of a journey, but also the first book to unveil the rich and varied culture surrounding the drug qat. Legal in the UK but banned in the US, some claim it is as mild as tea, others that it is as addictive as cocaine.

Eating the Flowers of Paradise is the best kind of travel book – vivid and personal, it brings to life an exotic part of the world, about which comparatively little has so far been written, and explores an aspect of its culture rarely studied.

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From the Back Cover:

Lured by idyllic memories of ancient cities, spectacular mountains and, most of all, dreamy afternoons spent chewing the psychactive leaves of the qat tree, Kevin Rushby set out to travel the old Qat Road from the highlands of Ethiopia to Yemen. It was to prove a fascinating and dangerous journey, peopled with an extraordinary array of characters – criminals, Islamic scholars, an exorcist, and the mysterious Quadric, the travelling companion from hell.

'Eating the Flowers of Paradise' combines classic travel with an explanation of the rich and varied cultures surrounding the drug qat. Legal in the UK but banned in the US, experts variously claim it to be as mild as tea or as addictive as cocaine. In the Yeman it is central to the life of the country, and Rushby explores as he goes our attitudes towards substance abuse and addiction.

" 'Eating the Flowers of Paradise' is an account of extraordinary journeyings in a corner of the earth which remarkably enough has eluded investigation by explorers until this time. It abounds with fascinating and exciting fresh material presented in a style comparable to the accepted classics of travel in Arabia and the Middle East"
NORMAN LEWIS

"If you never chew a leaf in your life, this rollicking tale of high adventure should give you a hint of how it feels."
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

"Pure joy from beginning to end"
Wonderlust

"Rushby is a fearless and sociable traveller . . . There are many amusing episodes and good jokes in this engaging book. "
THE TABLET

"Rushby is at his best evoking the sheer joy of travel . . .There is an innate modesty to his writing, which is enlivened by a dash of erudition in all the right places, a good knowledge of Islam, and vividly unusual travelling companions"
LITERARY REVIEW

About the Author:

Kevin Rushby taught English in Sudan, Malaysia and Yemen before becoming a full-time author and photographer.

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