It seems that posting a lot of pictures is a great way of disguising a lack of good content. Noted for future use.
And i just re-read my last post, and it was quite banal and boring. Sorry. This is the last Yemen post. The key is to change subjects very quickly :-)
On Sunday morning we informed dear Abdul that we had completely changed our plans, and would like to reach back to Sana’a that night. He was quite taken aback, but was a god sport, and suggested a route that would let us see some nice places, and still reach Sana’a. It is forbidden for tourists to travel at night, so we had to start heading back soon.
This time we started the day with a fish breakfast. Basically the same meal, just that we bought different fish this time, and direct from the fish market. And I decided to start the Khat in the morning itself, and give it a chance to work its magic all day.
We took a sneak peak at Zabeet, and drove back towards Sana’a, skirting most of the tall mountain roads. I did manage to persuade Abdul to let me drive the Land Cruiser, something i had wanted to do for a long time. We again managed to break his heart by telling him that we had not chewed the Khat from the day before. Khat needs to be consumed the same day, while its fresh. As we abhor alcohol abuse, the yemenis frown upon wasting Khat.
We passed through some of the same green wadi, and managed to buy some excellent mangoes on the way. I was chewing, so Navin got started on them, pronouncing them to be excellent. Part of the drive was actually IN the wadi, as the road was under repair. Quite fun, we actually hung onto the back of the jeep for a while to enjoy the scenery better.
We managed to pass the last mountain village with just enough light to get permission to proceed to Sana’a. But it was great light. There was a fog. And for the first time I felt the land was introducing itself to us. A little bit of mystery, shadows in the mist, lights sparkling in the ancient villages. Its amazing what light can do to the mood of a place. This same mountain in the afternoon sun looked so drab.
We had dinner at a local diner, and were once again surprised by the excellent food. Ordered the chicken thrice. Shades of Amritsar, and the Tandoori Chicken :-)
We encountered some trouble at the last roadblock near Shibam. The police did not want to let us drive that late. In the end, they agreed to give us two men as armed escorts, who dropped us off at the next checkpoint. Very nice folks. And that was the greatest find of the trip. This country has good hearted people, still awed and happy at meeting strangers, not jaded and commercially motivated, because they dont get too many tourists.
We arrived back to our hotel, got the same room, and sat down with our old friends in the Khat room.
And so we ended like we started, chewing and smoking, listening to great sufi music late at night in this ancient city, sitting in a 800 year old house. The music has rarely sounded better, it seemed to like the place :-)