Zabid to Mokha, Yemen
Ibn Battuta had followed a different path - from Zabid he had gone to Jibla, then Taizz and from there to Sana’a and back to Aden whence he took a boat to Zeila in Somalia. There was an element of criss-crossing that I wished to avoid, and in addition I had no intention of visting the war-torn, anarchic place that has been Somalia for the last three decades, by boat or otherwise. It made more sense to visit Aden first then drive back north to Sana’a.
Me in Zabid with only two children in tow.
It was thus that I found myself in Mokha for the second time in two months. I wish I knew why we did not camp out on the beach again but we did not, and instead ended up in a hotel in Mokha, quite possibly one of the filthiest places I have had the misfortune of overnighting in. Ants, cockroaches and other unmentionables flew, leapt and crawled around the room and the bathroom, tiled in a particularly lurid shade of green, was beyond contemplation. I slept fully clothed on top of the sheet on my silk liner. We left the following morning practically at first light. At night we had driven past quietly disintegrating buildings to the garbage-ridden and fetid port for our nightly shisha ritual. As has been mentioned, Mokha (Mocha) has a rich trading past (in coffee) of which nothing remains. I am given to historic nostalgia and places such as Mokha always strike me as harbingers of the doom that awaits some of the world’s great cities of today; the ineluctable combination of globalization and climate change will make of them what has befallen places like Mokha or Ugarit, Byblos, al-Ola and Qana - great and powerful names of antiquity now obscure, forgotten and haunted by bats........