From Homhil Protectected Area we walked back on down to the infinity pool overlooking the Arabian Sea.
From there Sami and I would scramble down the rocky mountainside down to bottom, where Ahmed would meet us with the Landcruiser continue a little way down the coast to Arher Beach to camp for the night. On our descent we passed bottle trees, dragon bloods and the occasional goat. Me with a dragon blood tree as we began the climb down. The beach at Arher was even more beautiful than Omaq.
To make it even more unbelievable I had the entire beach to myself. Not a single soul around for the first couple hours. A boy who lived nearby saw us and dropped on by to have a chat for a short period of time and then low and behold, the Slovenians turned up again. They were in just as much awe as I was.
Arher Beach. After spending a few hours swimming, playing in the airy-soft bright white sand, and taking thousands of photos with the Slovenians we made our final short move to Arher Creek where we would be camping that night at the base of Arher Dune, the tallest on the island. Ahmed returned to camp to begin cooking while Sami and I and a handful of locals from Hadiboh on a weekend camping trip hiked up the tallest sand dune on the island.http://kamishiro-hajime.info/voice/comment/localisation-portable-international.php
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The trek down was a lot more fun rolling down the sand dune. Later on we sat around a campfire eating fish we caught out of the creek and spent the evening talking and laughing. We slept outside again. Oh and ps: this was like bush camping- no toilet. Well I almost did at Hoq Cave, 2 kilometers in at least!
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That morning after packing up we headed to Terbak Village where we met a local young man who would be guiding us into the cave. He was from Terbak and knew the cave quite well. He even helped research teams who came to study the cave in the years prior. We began the roughly hour and a half hike up to the opening of the cave. Hoq cave has not been fully explored. It is often believed to be the largest cave on the island, but there are other larger caves on Socotra that are harder to access and are in fact larger.
Not to take away from how mighty Hoq Cave was. There were giant stalagmites and stalagtites all around. The air would change as we moved to different areas, feeling warmer gushes of air in some spots and cooler in others. Eventually we were so deep that even with flashlights it was difficult to see the inside of the cave. Add another regret to the list here- not knowing how to take a long exposure shot for interior cave photos.
After a couple hours of exploring the monstrous cave and a stop in Terbak Village we made our way over to Dihamri Marine Protected Area. Dihamri is surrounded by rust red rocks, but the real action happens below the surface. The coral reefs surrounding Dihamri are the richest in the archipelago. Here you can see colorful fish and even a few endemic species. Unfortunately this was long before I had an underwater camera. Naturally we all fell to sleep under the stars listening to the crashing waves.
We left Dihamri bright and early for our long drive across the island to Qalansiya Village and Detwah Lagoon. First we needed to make a quick stop in Hadiboh to stock up on a few supplies, but not before heading to the fish market. Sami wanted me to have a chance to see the fish market just outside Hadiboh. A lonely concrete and stone block shack sat there on the beach with a few dhow boats parked outside, inside was complete chaos.
Blankets thrown everywhere with piles of fish on them and jam-packed with Socotris haggling a good price. After the chaos at the fish market we made a couple stops in Hadiboh, mostly picking up fresh fruits and vegetables and then of course a final stop to buy some Qat. The drive then got held up for an additional hour due to our lack of foresight. It was Friday. Firiday is a holy day. We needed to fill up on gas and of course the station was closed for the mid-day call to prayer.
We decided to start in on the Qat while waiting. Sami got out a packet of peanuts and said to chew them up a bit and push them into your cheek to help combat the unpleasant taste of the Qat leaf. After a couple hours we arrived in the Detwah Lagoon.
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Ahmed drove us up to the top of the hill over looking the beach. We headed down to the beach on the lagoon to set up camp and go for a swim. I spent the afternoon kicking around in the perfect seas. When I came back out to have a walk around I was met by two boys from the nearby village in Qalansiya. They saw that I had a camera and wanted me to take their pictureure.
The funny thing I found about Socotri people by this point in the trip is that they love to pose for a picture for you, because they want you to remember them when you go home.
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Late in the afternoon another group of kids from the village had come down to the beach and they had started telling me that I should go out in the lagoon with their Uncle Abdullah: The Caveman to catch some fish. They went on and on about how cool Abdullah was and that I needed to meet him. Sami saw them and came over and he said that that was the surprise for me the next day. Shortly after no other than Abdullah came walking up with his days catch and introduced himself.
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Abdullah the Caveman, who lives in the village by night and in the cave by day. Sami said him and Ahmed loved shrimp but every time they ate them it made them both itch really bad. I gave them both all of my Benadryl I had brought with me for their future shrimp dinners and the rest to keep because allergies can turn very bad. We spent the evening laughing because they were rolling around itching all over. This is when the only side effects of the Qat kicked in for me: Insomnia. I slept a little later this day because of the Qat-fueled insomnia the night before.
I had breakfast with Ahmed and then we went over to meet Abdullah. Sami was exhausted from not sleeping at all the night before from the Qat, so he stayed back at camp to get a nap in.
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We walked to the edge of the water where we were quickly met by Abdullah. He had already gotten an early morning fishing session in and was excited to take me out.
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The first thing we did was go out into the water where he taught me how to toss a net to catch a few unsuspecting fish. He got several. On my toss I got three. The lagoon was crawling with life. There were urchins, sea cucumber, fish, mussels and clams all around. We even came across a squid. I made him ink when I went to catch him with my bare hands.
Abdullah was able to snatch him up bare handed on his first attempt. The big blow fish was my favorite thing we caught by far. Abdullah showed me that you could lightly squeeze his sides and the fish would blow water out his mouth.
The fish seemed pretty unbothered by it.