Sorry for the long hiatus between posts, this last week has been a bit busy. We got back from Kamaran late Saturday night, and had a busy day running around the Old City on Sunday. However, I have managed to update the Picasa album with pictures from Kamaran.
The journey to Kamaran wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, but we made it. We were supposed to take the public bus from Sana’a to Hudaydah at 7 am, but we arrived just in time to see the bus pull away. Later we found out that even if we weren’t late, they had already resold our tickets. Luckily we had a teacher from the college with us (Abul Kafi) and he arranged for a private bus to pick us up.
The trip to Port Saleef, were the boat to Kamaran leaves from, took about 6 hours. The cramped got progressively more miserable as we got closer: the temperature in Sana’a was in the high 70s with very little humidity, and in Kamaran it was around 100 with high humidity. It didn’t help that Connor (see pic in David’s post), who sat next to me, was on the verge of getting sick the whole time. Port Saleef itself was pretty run down , and the policeman at the checkpoint, likely because of boredom, gave us a hard time. He ended up confiscating all of our ID cards, and I have yet to get mine back.
After a 15km boat ride to the island the trip became exponentially more enjoyable. We were greeted by the best lunch that I have had in Yemen. They had fresh fish, great rice, and a sort of chicken noodle soup. People spent the afternoon settling in, playing chess, doing a little swimming, and trying to plan for the next day. By the time night fell, everyone was thoroughly exhausted. Unfortunately, the straw huts we stayed in had no fans or AC, so sleeping was very sticky.
Everyone got up to a “crepe” breakfast on Friday, after which we got on boats and visited the island’s mangroves. Abul Kafi decided that it would be a good idea to wander through these mangroves, which turned out to be an adventure. People came out with cuts, hurt thumbs, and broken footwear. On the way back to the “hotel”, our boat stopped so that we could snorkel. The water in the Red Sea is very warm and pretty salty, so it’s a great place to see some wildlife. At the beach by our hotel we only saw sea urchins and sting rays, but off the coast we caught a glimpse of more brightly colored fish. After we were done, we once again returned to a great meal. In the afternoon most of us took motor cycles to visit the city of Kamaran and a small village whose name I can’t remember; both were strikingly poor. I will try to find pictures of this side trip from other people.
Earlier in the day we had been told about a wedding in Kamaran (it is wedding season in Yemen right now), so we decided to go. We got there at about nine, and everyone (men only, of course) was sitting around chewing qat and listening to what I assume was Yemeni music. Abul Kafi got up and started dancing. and he even managed to drag Connor in eventually. We didn’t stay at the wedding long because there honestly wasn’t much going on. Abdul Kafi said that it was just getting started, and that in this part of Yemen the men will actually stay up until 11 or 12 the next day. The most exhilarating part of the night was the fact that our guard decided to use his AK-47 as a foot rest, and if he had slipped one of us would have certainly been in trouble.
On Saturday, Connor, Abdul Kafi and I got up around five and went fishing with one of the employees at the hotel. The fishing rods they use consist of fishing line and a hook tied to a plastic soda bottle. Needless to say, I was terrible at using it: I didn’t catch a single fish and managed to loose two hooks in the process. I felt a little bit better that Connor was nearly as inept. The man from the hotel caught four fish to our zero. We took the fish right to the kitchen, and I assume they were the ones we ate for lunch. After lunch we headed back to Sana’a, but this time the weather got more pleasant over the 7 hour trek.