Socotra is an underdeveloped and isolated island, but that’s a part of its allure. You go there primarily to see its endemic Dragon Blood Timber, get misplaced in nature, and take in its magnificence – which for my part is unequalled by its uniqueness.
In truth, Socotra, which is roughly 370 km off the coast of Yemen, is taken into account to be the Galapagos of the Middle East because of its numerous and unique fauna and flora not discovered anyplace else on the planet!
Getting disconnected in Socotra
Its capital metropolis, Hadiboh, is what I would describe as a glorified village with just a few paved roads and tons of of roaming goats around.
Wifi barely exists there. Properly, if it works. Outdoors of Hadiboh, although… wifi who?
At first, I didn’t know the way to spend a entire week on my own, offline. But guess what? In Socotra, it was straightforward!
My week was filled with issues to see and do, from climbing canyons to succeed in the dragon blood timber, to exploring caves and dipping in a utterly desolated natural pool at the prime of a mountain.
However, my favorite experience in Socotra was not planned at all.
The Lagoon and the Caveman
Halfway by way of my “forced offline detox” in Socotra, I reached the Detwah Lagoon on the western aspect of the island, near the small city referred to as Qalansiyah.
As with the rest of my journey, I was camping. And identical to earlier than, the weather was so good that I didn’t have to set a tent.
As an alternative, I threw my stuff and mattress in a small seashore shack made with palm tree leaves. It was idyllic.
After having fun with the seashore for a whereas, napping, and reading for a whereas, I felt like walking round and checking what was beyond the lagoon – reach all the best way to the top of the lagoon, the place it meets with the sea.
I set on what turned out to be a two-hour hike, surrounded by nothing however mountains and cliffs on one aspect, and the sea on the other.
At factors, I stopped simply to take heed to the goats climbing up the mountain, the handfuls of birds flying above, the waves crashing, and even the wind. Yes, the wind. That’s how peaceful and fairly it was. All pure nature, not a soul round me.
The view alongside the walk.
On my means back, I got here throughout a man strolling the identical rocky path. At first, I was going to ignore him and proceed walking, but contemplating how pleasant everybody had been on Socotra, I thought I should say hello.
I gave a quick hello, to which he replied with a very enthusiastic hello.
“I’m walking around the lagoon, now on the way back to my camping spot,” I replied to him.
“I know it. I saw it walking here. I’m Abdullah, I’m walking to my cave. I live there,” he stated as he pointed in the direction of the rocky shore I simply walked.
“Do you really live in a cave?,” I requested back.
“Yes, you want to see it?”
There was no hesitation there. I needed to see this cave. But, is he really a caveman? Do these individuals even exist today? Properly, to an extent, they do!
Humorous sufficient, he calls himself Abdullah the Caveman. He was slim, tanned, and to my surprise, smelled pretty good. He was barefoot, sporting a denim shirt, and a traditional miwaz – male skirt in Socotra.
He was also carrying a low cost smartphone. He may be a caveman, however a trendy one!
As we walked uphill to his cave he shared his information of the area, especially all the things that surrounded us.
Despite the fact that Abdullah speaks English, he is still studying, so each time he doesn’t know a phrase, he enhances it with body language, mimics, or drawing on the ground.
Listening to Abdullah’s energetic and artistic stories and explanations have been all the time enjoyable.
“You see this tree? If you cut [referring to getting a wound while mimicking cutting open his skin], you cut the tree. You see that? [pointing at the sap] You put on your skin, and it’s new!”
As we obtained near the cave, I observed a boulder that had “Welcome” written on it with white paint and some more text in Arabic.
The welcome boulder at Abdullah’s Cave.
“We are here! Look, ‘Welcome!’ [pointing to the boulder] Everyone is welcomed in my cave,” stated Abdullah.
Funny thing is that earlier, as I walked alongside the lagoon, I had seen that “graffitied boulder” and questioned what was it about, however didn’t care sufficient to explore it. The cave was not as visible from the place I was strolling.
Abdullah’s cave is what I would describe as a image window cave. It has a massive opening in the direction of the sea, and as you go deeper, it will get smaller in measurement.
The entrance is adorned with two large whale ribs and mandibles, making kind of an “official” entry threshold.
That should have been a massive whale!
As Abdullah stepped into his cave, he instantly stopped. He rigorously inspected the filth on the bottom. “Look, someone was here. I don’t know who, but he was looking for something,” he stated as he inspected the recent footprints.
Instantly I thought, phew, good thing I didn’t come up right here unannounced when I saw the “welcome boulder.”
However, in about five seconds, Abdullah seemed to not care and turned in the direction of me. “You want tea?”
Right here I was, in a cave, in the midst of nowhere, and he still gives me tea?
Consuming tea is a robust custom in Center Japanese nations and it is a type of belongings you do and supply when socializing or welcoming somebody to your own home.
Within the Center East, you don’t say no to tea. Not even in a cave.
Abdullah immediately walked out to look for a few branches on the bushes close to the cave, and in no time he set a small pyre by the cave’s entrance. He lit it, set his kettle, crammed it with water, and dropped in a few tea leaves.
He then sat next to the small pyre as I sat on his solely plastic chair – which curiously had its legs chopped in half.
“You want to eat?” he asked.
This one I refused. While I might have eaten, I was sure he was going to prepare dinner fish or seafood – as Socotrians are pescatarians. I don’t eat any seafood, so I needed to avoid a clumsy meal.
As we drank our scorching tea, Abdullah began to speak about his life within the cave. He was born in that cave 57 years in the past (he thinks!) and has lived there principally all his life.
He stated he might reside within the city nearby, however he prefers to stay within the cave – a simple life.
He has a wife and a son, each dwelling in Qalansiyah, which is about 45 minutes to an hour walking from the cave.
He supplies himself with the freshest seafood, which he catches by hand on a day by day basis. He also dries the salt from the seawater for seasoning, will get drugs from the timber, and does all different survival methods you’ll be able to think of.
The salt Abdullah collects once the water evaporates.
Normally, he survives with nature and only relies on trendy methods when one thing is just not available round him.
The truth is, as he advised me, his cave proved to be safer through the powerful Cyclone Mekunu in 2018.
In the course of the storm, many homes in Qalansiyah have been both broken or destroyed, but he gave shelter to his family and different households in his cave – within the deeper elements of the cave, shielded from the rain and wind – and it proved to be safer than the “modern town.”
Abdullah additionally confirmed me some historic pottery found in the cave, which based on him, predates him and his family. It belonged to “very very old people,” referring to generations before his and even another civilization?
He confirmed me how some of that pottery was used to offer milk to babies via a small gap on the backside and the way valuable it’s for him to still maintain and shield that heritage.
Historic pottery. See that tiny hole? That was to offer milk to babies.
“Here, there were people buried too,” he stated pointing to another cave nearby, where in response to him over 40 corpses have been dug out years ago. It was a burial cave from his ancestors.
It was virtually sundown and I wasn’t carrying my headlamp with me, so I felt it was time to go again to my camp. But before I left, Abdullah needed to share a bit more of his knowledge about Qalansiyah.
“Tomorrow, go very early on a boat to see dolphins. You will see them…” He stopped for a few seconds, considering of a word to use. After he couldn’t think of one, he grabbed a pebble, tossed it in the air and because it rotated he stated enthusiastically, “THAT!”
“Ohhhh, I’ll see the dolphins jumping out of the water and doing tricks?”
The fact is that I had already deliberate on doing that, however he inspired me even more to see them, particularly earlier in the morning, when a whole lot of dolphins are leaping like crazy.
A Sunset Walk and a Bizarre Dinner
Abdullah went again to my camp with me and as we walked along the shore, he needed to point out me his expertise as a fisherman.
“Look, there’s a squid. You want to see me catch it?”
He had no fishing gear. He didn’t want any, although.
He grabbed some sand and sprinkled it over the water as to confuse the squid. He slowly acquired nearer to it and in a swift transfer, he grabbed it!
“Look! Take a picture!”
I shortly took a image and simply after that he released it. In lower than a second the squid swam away leaving a trail of black ink behind.
We then continued walking on the water, with a beautiful overcast sunset right in entrance of us.
After we reached the camp, he started chatting with my driver and stayed with us for dinner.
That dinner though…
My driver knew I didn’t like fish or seafood, so he was excited he discovered another meat for me for the primary time throughout this trip. It was goat meat.
The drawback wasn’t that my dinner was goat meat. It was a goat’s head.
“Look, meat!” stated my driver with a joyful grin.
I pressured a smile. “yes, meat.”
There have been all types of yucky on that plate, from brains to tooth, the mandible, and the complete skull. There was barely any “edible” meat.
To make matters worse, the rice was sticky rice made with bitter goat’s milk. I tried a chew and immediately thought, nope!
I skipped that dinner however comforted myself and my tummy with a bag of cookies.
After dinner, Abdullah stated goodbye to us. I thanked him for the fantastic afternoon and wished I might meet him again sooner or later. He made my day a lot better than I might have ever expected and gave me a memorable expertise in Socotra.
As I’ve come to study with other encounters in Uganda and Iran, amongst others, individuals are what make your travel experiences much more particular.
I knew I was going to spend a week offline and in nature in Socotra, but meeting a actual caveman wasn’t even in my wildest plans!
In the event you’re ever within the area, don’t be afraid to ask for Abdullah the Caveman. He’s actually pleasant and welcomes everybody who passes by to his cave for some tea and even to have a meal in the event you’re hungry!