Roaming on the plateau

Image28 April – After exploring Tawila I set out to walk to Kawkaban. I don't know if I will make it because it's a huge distance. Besides I feel out of sorts, arguably because of last night's dish of beans that left me with nausea. I walk for three hours and a half non-stop to get to Bukur. I arrive knackered and throw myself down on a stone to rest, altogether ignoring the children's proposals to show me the place's attraction.

As soon as I come to, I hit the road again to see the lisan, the extraordinary tongue of rock hanging apallingly over the void of a very deep and ample valley below. Indeed it's a place hovering in mid air and the very proximity to the edge makes me dizzy.

I go back to the asphalt road in the hope of finding a car, but I have to walk to Zakati before succeeding. I have just enough time to see the ruins of the village built on a column of rock because a car takes me. we follow the new road that in a few hairpin bents drops headfirst into the valley. In Shibam I reconsider my plan and decide to go up to Kawkaban, on the verge of the cliff and to climb down from it tomorrow.

I'm at an altitude of 2600 m and I'm therefore not surprised of the cold air blowing here. The hotel is pretty and I have a hot shower. I spend the evening with a group of elderly Dutch tourists.

29 April – I walk down from the high cliff to get to the base where Shibam is. I leave my luggage in a shop and take a car to Hababa. It's a lovely village, but rather out of repair. After wandering in its streets and being pursued by the children in search for the eternal pen, I head for Thula trekking across the fields. They say I should be there in an hour and a quarter. The village that sits on a knoll is a constant reference point in my walking.

ImageIt's a very attractive place and well kept too. You can see money has been invested to refurbish the splendid tall stone houses. In the afternoon I set out to return to Shibam. Since the path isn't marked I am soon on the asphalt road, but don't make an effort to regain the path as I think I've walked enough for today.

I take a passing car then a share taxi to Sanaa from Shibam. I go to Geraldine's house who invites me to go to a dialect class. A Tunisian professor who teaches at the Sorbonne is there too. He's held a seminar on translation at Sanaa University and he's currently a guest of Geraldine. We go out to eat grilled fish together.