Thursday, February 01, 2007

One Latte Grande To Go

I have managed to work my way south to the port of Al Makha, one of the most depressingly dusty and rundown places I have been to on my trip so far, a far cry from its illustrious past. In the 16th-19th centuries Al Makha used to be the port through which Yemen's lucrative coffee trade was funnelled as well as being the obligatory southern gateway to the Ottoman-controlled Red Sea. It was from here that Coffea arabica was shipped to the whole world and the town even gave its name to mocha coffee. Since then Al Makha has been supplanted by Aden and Al Hudayda in terms of maritime importance, coffee production has spread to many other parts of the world and Yemeni farmers have switched to growing qat which is more lucrative and less dependent on the vagaries of the world market.

However it is still the closest port to Djibouti, which is where I am headed (inshallah), and numerous dhows and sambuqs ply the narrow straight between the two continents. When I went to the port immigration office this morning I was told that the incessant southerly wind, which is coating everything in town with a fine layer of sand (me included), is making the sea too choppy and that nothing would be going in the next week or so. But whilst trudging disconsolately back to town I was approached by a French-speaking Djiboutian who told me that he knew of a boat that is leaving today. So I have paid my passage and am supposed to meet the captain at the harbour at 3pm (it is now around noon). I'm curious as to how things will turn out.

1 comment:

Ex-Shammickite said...

I hope the sea captain doesn't turn out to be a swashbuckling pirate with a wooden leg and a parrot on his shoulder.... "Avast ye, me hearties".... I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment of this exciting adventure story.