Abdullah’s cave in Qalanciya was something out of Arabian Nights and I marveled at his incredible local life. Remnants of big catches like the fateful whale, a few sharks, and dolphins decorated the cavernous interiors and fishing nets set for drying marked off his bedroom from the sitting area. Abdullah had a few other guests that day and apart from me, there was a Norwegian trio and an Italian solo traveler. All of us oscillated from being slightly patronizing to admiring and Abdullah loved it. He cooked, smoked, and regaled us with his fishing adventures. So while we sat inside a whale’s jaw and feasted on oysters, calamari, and cinnamon tea, Abdullah explained to us about fishing techniques and secrets of the lagoon.
Learning to fish in Qalanciya
It was a very entertaining evening in Qalanciya. We feasted on an orgasmic spread of fresh seafood, laughed like children at Abdullah’s tales, and watched a beautiful golden sunset. To give us the complete experience of Qalanciya and his daily life, Abdullah shepherded his little group into the shallow water of the lagoon and we soon found ourselves stepping over oysters, seagrass, and soft squishy sand beds. Starfishes scuttled away at our approaching footsteps and octopuses, urchins, seahorses, and pufferfishes floated in the warm shallow water of the lagoon. Drenched in the golden shower of setting sun, we walked slowly and languorously with rushing tide rippling around our feet. It was not easy though and after watching baby squids bursting open from translucent white eggs, I gladly returned to my hut. With so little to do, Qalanciya nights were most relaxing and being completely out of all communication range, I truly learned to let go.
Qalanciya lagoon is a breeding ground for fishes
Idle thoughts ran through my mind and I idly wondered if the reef shark visited Detwa’s water at night to lay her eggs in safety. The lagoon of Qalanciya had a bottleneck mouth and it prevented the entry of large predators. Thus, Detwa was a favourite nesting ground for the sea mothers. Expecting squids, octopuses, turtles, and sharks frequented the lagoon at night, and there were plenty of young ones frolicking or embedded in its soft safe sands. This brought aquatic birds in hordes and during low tides flamingos, gulls etc waded on it for hours. Apart from frequenting Abdullah’s cave, fishing, kayaking and hiking up the sugary white sandy mountains, my favourite Qalanciya activity was to swim and sun for hours on its tranquil, empty beach. Most of the time, it felt unreal to watch only my footsteps tracing across a beautiful expanse on earth and as usual, the light played stunning magical illusions. I swam, floated, and spent a lot of time learning to fish in the lagoon.
Floating on the blue-green ocean
I loved floating on the blue-green ocean, being one with the restless waves and during my most poignant moments imagined them to carry me all the way to my loved ones. That was perhaps the closest, I had ever come to know how a marooned man at sea must have felt and it was deeply liberating to luxuriate in such aimless thoughts. The solitude and the silence of the beach were complete and more than once, I had to wait for the tide to ebb, to be able to get back to Detwa Lagoon. During high tide, the beach was completely cut off from the rest of the semi-circular lagoon and during that complete isolation, I counted huge clouds racing across the sky. Socotra was a land of magical skies and dramatic falling light and one night, I even witnessed huge lightning suddenly crack open the black inkiness in the distance. Such was the complete natural innocence of Qalanciya and I gave into its breathtaking power without any protest.
Follow the rest of the Yemen series here
- YEMEN CRISIS AND MEMORIES OF OLD SANAA
- MEMORIES OF SOCOTRA
- HOW I ENDED UP ON THE SOCOTRA ISLAND
- HADIBO AND URBANIZATION OF SOCOTRA
- THE MOUNTAIN BEDOUINS OF SOCOTRA
- LOSING TIME IN WADI DIRHUR
- CAVE ESCAPADE IN SOCOTRA
- THE SHIFTING SAND DUNES OF ZAHAK
- GETTING BURIED IN SAND IN OMAK
- DRIVING FROM QADAMA TO QALANCIYA
- THE AMBER HUNTER OF DETWA LAGOON
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE