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March 13, 2008

第263話 カートは凄い?

 イエメンの人たちの昼食時間は遅い。大体午後2時頃からだ。多くの店もこの時間帯になると休憩で閉めるので、スークの中でさえ閑散とする時間帯だ。そして昼食後は多くの男性はカートと言われる葉っぱをかじる。少しづつかじり、エキスは飲み込みながら、カスは口の中に溜め込んでいく。だから、次第に口の中に大量のカスが溜る。それを片側の頬の内側に集める。そうすると、片側の頬はプックリ膨れる。凄い人になると、野球のボールくらいの大きさに頬を膨らませている人もいる。

 このカート、軽い精神高揚作用があるそうで、見方によっては麻薬である。だからサウジアラビアでは非合法扱いで、見つかれば相当の厳罰があるそうだ。ここイエメンでは国を挙げてのカート栽培と言っていいほど、都市周辺部に緑が見えると思ったら、多くはカート畑だ。しかも決して安くない。小さな袋ひとつで、田舎の少年がロードサイドで売っているもので600リアル(約300円)、街中のスークで700リアル(約350円)という値段だ。

 運転手兼ガイドのアヌワル氏は昼食後は、片手はハンドル、片手はカートの袋に手を突っ込みながら運転をしている。やがて“効き目”がでてきたのか、よく喋るようになってくる。

「さあ、あんたもやりなよ。」といってカートを勧めてくるので、ちょいとかじってみた。期待もしていなかったが苦くて全く美味しくない。まあ、それでもこれも文化交流と思い、くちゃくちゃと噛み続けた。やがて彼は右手で自分の股間を指差しながら、

「カートは凄いんだ。噛んだ後で、ベーリーストロングね。」と何度も言っていた。

 ほほう、日本人はくちゃくちゃ何時間もやるほどヒマ人は少ないから、ぎゅっと搾ってドリンクにしてしまったら、どうなんだろう。でも麻薬扱いじゃちょっとヤバイのかな?などと、こちらもカートの効き目なのか、周囲の荒涼たる景色を眺めながら、良からぬ算段をするのであった。delicious

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