Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

An Introduction to Yemen

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Old Sana'a
Old Sana'a
Next morning we had a short while to walk in Ols Sana'a, the walled heart of the old city, before heading out the Saih growing area.
Old Sana'a
Old Sana'a
Tourist Hotel - the old district has many, but I understand most are very, very basic
Old Sana'a
Old Sana'a
Lotsa cats, and you can imagine that would be the case in the land of the Queen of Sheba.
Old Sana'a
Old Sana'a
Beautiful anachronistic architectural details are everywhere.
Old Sana'a
Old Sana'a
It's a photographer's dream, detail all over.
Old Sana'a
Old Sana'a
Amazing old ruins of rock architecture that you might find in the Southwest US, but here at the center of a dense populated city.
and Duane looks like a Jazz dude
and Duane looks like a Jazz dude
especially the coat and glasses.
I'm Tall In Yemen
I'm Tall In Yemen
... and this door proves it.
Wake Up to Reality.
Wake Up to Reality.
After a restless night of TV and fitful sleep, I awoke in a desert. Well, Sana'a is the capital, at high altitude, and cool in the morning. But like all Yemen it is quite arid. The weather was actually wonderful, and warms up moderately in the day.
Smurfs?
Smurfs?
Smurfs seem out of place in this ancient walled city, but what the heck ... kids need their smurfs!
the next morning
the next morning
road trip to Saihi growing region, but a stop first to this great shop...
no ....
no ....
Did not buy the Yemeny Baby milk, just liked the name.
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
I found the doors to be incredible, so here's a series of images of them.
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Favorite Doors of Old Sana'a
Inside an open door, another door!
Old and New
Old and New
Cinderblock and grafitti with ancient mud-mortared rock walls behind. Can someone tell me what the grafitti reads?
handed my camera to a kid
handed my camera to a kid
and got a crooked self portration with Ali and Al Muhakri
Newer homes
Newer homes
New is all relative in this ancient land, but you can spot newer abodes since they are not in the rock-walled fortresses at the tops of hills and mountains. Clearly, people have become less paranoid about invades as time as passed.
and a nice egg sandwich
and a nice egg sandwich
pretty good for a coutry that doesn't eat breakfast, a Yemeni egg Mc Muffin

Saih Growing Region: Our first visit to a coffee area was the Saih valley. The coffee from here is called Saihi, which is the normal conjugation here... coffee from Bani Mattar is Mattari, etc. This is coffee is different than the other origins we visited, because it is grown in the narrow confines of a valley, and it was the only place I saw the use of shade trees for the coffee in Yemen. We drovw out through desert landscapes with isolated homes and very little arable land in view.
Typical Landscape.
Typical Landscape.
Arid and dry, with some sparse amounts of greenery and agriculture in the "wadi", the valleys.
Agriculture
Agriculture
A rare place where there are actually some broad swaths of arable land
Saih Valley entrance
Saih Valley entrance
As we approach the Saih Wadi, terraced agriculture
Children of Saih
Children of Saih
Traditional hats, and some unusual cloth, in the village at Saih there weren't many children, but later the area was flooded with them. It was a school day, duh.
Ancient homes among the rock...
Ancient homes among the rock...
Typical of Yemen, but remarkable to new eyes of a visitor.
Cowtown
Cowtown
Hanging out in the meager shade, a few cattle in town
My National Geographic photo
My National Geographic photo
Okay, if I can nominate myself for one award, I think it would this photo be it. To state the obvious, the children in Yemen are just wonderful.
Coffee on a Mule.
Coffee on a Mule.
Saihi is relatively flat terrain compared to the other coffee regions where the crop is terraced on steep slopes. But like other areas there are no roads directly to coffee so mules are used extensively.
Dried cherry samples
Dried cherry samples
Direct from the back of the mule, ready to go to the local collector and on to Sana'a.
Stone Walls
Stone Walls
Old stone walls, this without any apparant mortar to hold it in place.
Traditional Homes of Saih
Traditional Homes of Saih
Traditional Homes of Saih
Lonesome Town
Lonesome Town
A dry, dead tree in the middle of town
Just hanging around ...
Just hanging around ...
Skins
Skins
Drying skins, probably goat, hand from an edifice.
Deep, dramatic valley
Deep, dramatic valley
The terrain seems like New Mexico or highland Arizona, but the people, the towns, the culture remind you constantly you are definitely not in the US anymore. It's as if the Hopi grew coffee.
Coffee under shade trees
Coffee under shade trees
Speaking of coffee, Saih was one of the few places we saw shade trees used over the coffee in some spots. Then again, it's a ver different terrain than Harasi or Ismaili.
Diverted water...
Diverted water...
Saih is irrigated by a channel of water diverted from the streambed below. They have more water than most coffee growing areas in Yemen.
Unusual flower nodes
Unusual flower nodes
The ends of the cherry have exceptionally distinct nodes where the flower falls off and the cherry grows.
Tufahi Mokha Tips
Tufahi Mokha Tips
The tips (new leaves) of the Tufahi are bronze colored.
Yemen Mokha Tufahi Cutlivar
Yemen Mokha Tufahi Cutlivar
This is the large bean Tufahi cultivar of Mokha coffee, with its apple-like appearance, and some cherries (especially those lower on the tree), have pointed tips.
Apple-like
Apple-like
Tufahi is said to have an apple-like appearance, and I think you can see it in this photo of unripe coffee cherry. It also is apple-like in the leaf appearance.
Irrigation Channel
Irrigation Channel
Cut into the cliff, on a terrace , the diverted water from the stream bed below. This is part of the reason that the coffee in Saihi was greener, and more healthy than coffee we saw elsewhere.
Desert Flower
Desert Flower
In this arid climate, there are many other plants and flowering bushes.
Yankee Killer
Yankee Killer
Looks like some sort of yellow tomato to me, and seemed like they had cultivated it there. So I, being curiously ignorant, had a little nibble. I have never, ever tasted anything more vile, and it took everything to keep from wretching right there ... and for the next 30 minutes hiking up the trail. When I asked, between gags, "how the hell can you eat that?!?" they laughed. "We never eat that." "Whay are you cultivating it here around the coffee?, asked I. "We like how it looks, but it has no use." Groan.
Find the people in this picture...
Find the people in this picture...
The canyon was at least as beautiful as ones I have hiked up in New Mexico and Arizona, but this is someone's backyard basically, and coffee is growing on every arable meter. You can see the irrigation terrace, and the people are on the path we followed up to the terminus of the canyon, a waterfall.
Watering the coffee.
Watering the coffee.
Here you can see the fairly primitive method of flooding the coffee occasionally with water from diverted from the channel. There is so little rainfall in Yemen, coffee must be watered somehow, but the conditions make these methods, while ancient, less than ideal.
Group photo (sans moi)
Group photo (sans moi)
Here are most of the group, without the photographer of course, me. From right, thats Duane Sorenson, Mr. Mohamed Sowaid, Local Saih farmer, Mr. Ali Sowaid, and the local coffee collector Sahl-Sahl Al Hassine.
Waterfall Portraits
Waterfall Portraits
from the top, Ali Sowaid, Sahl-Sahl Al Hassine, and Al Muhakri.
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