War planes continue to fly north, tens of thousands of people get displaced, far too many killed on both sides, worry amongst sanaanis (local people of the capital) is growing fast, the heavy rains have taken a break for awhile after wrecking havoc with Sanaa and other parts of the country, crops are destroyed, farmers are loosing millions of rial, a national treasure of a building in Old Sanaa collapsed and killed an old woman and Ramadan is moving into its second week. Tempers are still under control, but there is no doubt that kat chewers are suffering the most. A guard here at school is sweating heavily.
For the last three days I have walked four kilometres from the Coffee Traders (I need a espresso every day, if available) on Hadda Street and home to the flat in the Old Town just before iftar, the daily break for the fast. It is one of the best times of the day, because the streets are deserted and the feeling of walking through the movie Terminator part 5 is prevailing. The same applies in the morning. The normally extremely busy, noisy, colorful and packed streets are silent and peaceful like as a desert. However, yesterday I left Sanaa for the second time since I came here, first one to Oman, but this was my first trip within the country, up to the Haraz Mountains. A day trip which makes Yemen even more fantastic!
My first surprise was how clean and tidy everything was outside Sanaa, basically as quick as we had climbed up to this terrific desert plateau offering spectacular views over the Haraz Mountains, leaving Sanaa behind in a cloud of pollution. Road checks where plenty, but it was such a refreshing experience! Not only because the air is so much cleaner, the views more encouraging, but people seems much more at ease, freer, the women are not as veiled and colourless, and life moves along here at another pace. Our first stop was the old town of Tulla, which was a smaller, but tidier variety of the Old City of Sanaa and offered some spectacular views of the mountains, set as it is by itself, clustered to a giant rock which shoots up from the plateau. There were plenty of signs that the Ottoman Turks past through here hundreds of years ago. It was a peaceful visit and the self proclaimed local guides were easy to handle.
However the views from the legendary Kawkaban, was with the best I have ever seen. Kawkaban is of particular historical importance for the Zaidi Moslems having been a stronghold for Yemenis kings due to its advantageous position. It is situated atop a plateau at 2750m above sea level. Kawkaban is the only Yemeni place mentioned in the legendary folk tale of A Thousand and A Night.
After Kawkaban, the spectacular views continued whilst visiting the fort in Zakatein and the village of Bukur, set on the ridge of a mountain and which is probably one of the most spectacular settings I have seen. A must visit for anyone wanting to experience the impressive locations of our world. I have to say, Yemen is such an experience in every way and it is by far, trust me who have visited 113 countries, one of the most interesting places on earth, where one has one foot in an age going back to birth of the Prophet Mohammed up until the modern era of today.
Local tribal people impressed me with their energy, self confidence and kindness. However, when we returned, wet and tired to Sanaa, it was good to get back to the Old City again and our friends Hussein and Mohammed, who were very worried as always for me. If they don´t see me in time, they call me on my mobile, to check that everything is ok. I will tell the story about these two fellows next report!