The wind blew relentlessly all night long, and we woke shortly after sunrise covered in sweat and grit. Penina and I had a quick wash and a simple breakfast, and then a chuckle when Wasa returned from having a shower at his family’s house in town to find his cigarettes had been eaten by goats.
We drove into town to buy supplies and to wave at the kids who crowded the car to wave at the strangers. The road took us along the coast towards Hadibo before turning back inland near the airport. At the top of the range we stopped to enjoy the view of the Arabian Sea and a particularly impressive dragons blood tree specimen.
On previous days, Penina and I had watched in Deleisha and Hadibo as clouds seemed to evaporate as soon as they rolled over the mountains, and now as we arrived at the Dixam platea the weather changed suddenly from hot, humid and windy, to overcast, cooler and raining!
At a small village we pulled off the tarmac and parked at the top of a deep gorge, and stood in the rain to take in the rocky slopes and lush fields of dragons blood trees.
Faisal engaged 4WD and slowly picked his way down a narrow goat track towards Wadi Di Erhor, and Wasa was surprised to find another vehicle already there. The driver was chilling out and killing time while his passengers swam at a nearby swimming hole. Wasa and Faisal immediately started cooking lunch (they refused all offers of help) and Penina and I took a stroll upstream, ducking under trees whenever the rain got heavy. We loved finding colourful little crabs and other critters; besides from the sound of trickling water, it was completely peaceful.
We went back to the car for a simple but yummy meal of vegetables, tuna and rice with Wasa, Faisal and the driver of the other vehicle. As we sipped on some post-lunch tea, several goats started sniffing around for cooking scraps, so Faisal dug out his carrot and potato peelings and made the goats’ day.
An appropriate period of digestion later, Penina and I grabbed our towels and walked downstream to the swimming hole. The two passengers of the other car were still there, sitting on a rock and smoking a shisha pipe after their swim. We jumped into the water and blissed out for a while.
While we we swimming, a man came down to fill a bottle from the stream, and then scrambled up the steep slope like a goat. We waved and he flashed us a bashful smile. After an hour or two of swimming and lounging on the rocks, we walked back to find Wasa and Faisal finishing off the last of yesterday’s qat
The original plan saw us camping back up top at the lookout but rain made that prospect look less attractive. We decided to push on to the south coast of the island where the weather was reportedly better. After we crawled back up the dirt track it was a reasonably quick drive to the edge of the mountain range. The view of the Indian Ocean as we descended towards the coast was pretty special.
Our destination, Amak Beach, looked much more like the dune beaches we’re used to in Australia, complete with angry surf thanks to the monsoon winds. In addition to a couple of falling down thatch shelters there was a concrete toilet block with solar panels on the roof, but it was all locked up and out of business. Wasa wasn’t sure why but suspected falling tourist numbers. We chose the most intact shelter and set up camp.
It was very overcast and already quite dark. Penina and I went for a walk along the beach and met a man who warned us not to go in the water. He spoke a little English and showed us his small catch from an afternoon of fishing. Back in the shelter we drank some more tea while Faisal and Wasa cooked us dinner (we had to keep reminding ourselves that we shouldn’t feel guilty for not helping), before enjoyed another yummy meal. We read our books until the head torches attracted a critical mass of bugs, so we decided to concede defeat and turn in for an early night.