Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

An Introduction to Yemen

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The Rural Party
The Rural Party
Everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE, you see these horses depicted, the ensignia of the rural party that dominates the provinces in Yemen.
Super Fly
Super Fly
They wanted a picture in their truck.
Lunchtime
Lunchtime
We stopped for lunch In Manekah. Even at a simple roadside place, the food was great, mostly because all the meat is butchered right there...
Lunchtime
Lunchtime
See?
Take My Photo No. 232
Take My Photo No. 232
Not often that the older fellows wanted a picture, but he did. he was sitting at the table next to ours.
Lunch is served.
Lunch is served.
If alone, I wouldn't have the courage to stop at any old place like this, and be assured that I wouldn't get ill. As it was, I had no stomach issues, even slight, the entire trip, whereas a long trip in Central America almost always has some gastronomic discomfort attached.
Coffee Cowboy
Coffee Cowboy
Since I had the good camera, Duane benefited by getting lots of great pictures of himself. What did I get? Huyh?
Great Bikes
Great Bikes
Yemen is filled with great micro motorcycles, 2 strokes and such. I wanted to get a bunch of pictures of them but didn't, except for a few like this.
Take my Picture No. 444
Take my Picture No. 444
Need I say more
Tired and Sleepy
Tired and Sleepy
Some downtime for a tired mule.
Not sure about this one...
Not sure about this one...
Tourist hotel - I don't think so...
Watch Out, MOMA
Watch Out, MOMA
Next to the tourist hotel in Manakah, Yemen (pop. 300, not including the mules) was the Al Hajrah museum of Art Treasures.
Lively decoration
Lively decoration
The toyota pickups were mostly decorated like this, with great, bright painting.
Al Hagarah
Al Hagarah
On the way to Haras, Yemen, you pass this especially imposing town, Al Hagarah. By the way, there's always a variety of way to spell things in Yemen. I was given the names of Al Hagrah, Al Hajrah, and Al Hagarah for this town.
Amazing Views in Harasi
Amazing Views in Harasi
On the way to the Haras growing area, towns and terraces
Flat Land
Flat Land
Even arable flatter areas of land are terraced.

Citadels of Harasi: Haras is another coffee region within a few hours of Sana'a. They have great coffee here, and more of the crop is terrace-grown than what we saw in Saihi the day before.


Amazing Views in Harasi
Amazing Views in Harasi
More dramatic houses. What views from these abodes...
Amazing Views in Harasi
Amazing Views in Harasi
Another cliffside town.
Amazing Views in Harasi
Amazing Views in Harasi
Amazing Views in Harasi
Herder
Herder
Rare sighting of the fairer sex. In the rural areas they ware straw shade hats over their veils.
Amazing Views in Harasi
Amazing Views in Harasi
Yet another castle-like outcropping of homes.
Gart, Haras, Yemen
Gart, Haras, Yemen
The town of Gart is where we were headed on this trip.
Yemen Shibriqi Mokha Coffee Cherry
Yemen Shibriqi Mokha Coffee Cherry
These trees were the Shibriqi clutivar and had lost of cherry, relative to Yemen at least.
Nasser Hussin
Nasser Hussin
Nasser was to be our host in Gart. He must have been hillarious, because he kept everyone in stitches (well, everyone who understands Arabic). More on him later.
Roadside Coffee
Roadside Coffee
Along the way, there was some very convenient coffee trees (a rarity in Yemen!) So we stopped. I doubt coffee farmers from other origins could believe that any coffee could be grown in such a surrounding environment.
"Heavy" Production
"Heavy" Production
At any other coffee origin, this tree would be either removed, heavily pruned to increase next year's production, or fed a lot of organic (or non-organic) fertilizer. But in Yemen, that's a lot of coffee cherry for a tree.
Shibriqi Mokha
Shibriqi Mokha
You can see this branch has already been harvested once, and is ready for it's final harvest. Average pass on trees is 3 times. The final pass is often a low-quality "strip pick" of all remaining cherry.
Shibriqi Mokha
Shibriqi Mokha
Good even ripening here, especially for Yemen.
Devanning at Gart
Devanning at Gart
After a long drive on the dirt road, D gets out at Gart.
Women Scatter
Women Scatter
Basically, the women tend to disappear when the Yenkee heathens arrive. I tended to be respectful of the fact they didn't want t be photographed ... 99% of the time at least! In terms of headscarves, all women have them, and according to Ali, the degree to which they had themsleves is a personal, or family matter. Few have their faces exposed, many have just their eyes exposed, and an equal amount have a fine black veil that covers everything. In fact, in Sana'a I saw a woman who wore glasses outside here complete veil, a very unusual look, like a black blob with glasses.
What are the rules ...
What are the rules ...
I always asked before photographing and almost always showed them the picture afterwards. People seemed quite delighted with this. It seems fine to photograph younger people.
Gart Is Amazing
Gart Is Amazing
Gart ... what kind of Yemeni name is that. Sounds like a cross between Garth and Bart. But what an amazing place this section of Haras is.
Castle or Village?
Castle or Village?
There is something so medieval about the towns in Yemen, built to defend against attack, from an era when it was "every town for itself". This makes for an architecture that, to Western eyes, is incredible.
Gart Edifice
Gart Edifice
A Heap o' Stones
A Heap o' Stones
... but each squared off jsut for the purpose, probaby by ancestors. Since the towns are low on population, there is a surplus of ruined walls and homes to use for building material.
Narrow Walkway
Narrow Walkway
A narrow passage in Gart
Happy or sad ?
Happy or sad ?
This picture seems to have elicited one smile and one frown, but they both enjoyed the results when they saw them.
Cute Puppy
Cute Puppy
I saw lots of cats in Yemen, but there were some dogs too, like this little guy...
White House of Gart
White House of Gart
I believe the white buildings are religious, because you would see them occasionally among the homes, but I did not ask Mohamed or Ali about this.
Shed with a View
Shed with a View
Even the humble little buildings are beautiful.
Dizzying Heights
Dizzying Heights
Our hosts wanted to lead us on a hike to the lower area of the town ... we'll call it Lower Gart, but I was the only visitor that ended up making the knee-busting walk.
The Path to Lower Gart
The Path to Lower Gart
We followed a steep, narrow, rocky path down to the village. I am not sure the significance of the sun pattern, but I saw it often.
Coffee, not Qat
Coffee, not Qat
Coffee on the terraces far below. Unfortunately, one way to tell it is coffee from a distance, and not qat, is the green-yellow appearance of the foilage due to lack of water and/or nutrition.
Desert Blossoms
Desert Blossoms
On the way down, some beautiful flowers, including this.
Flowering Euphorbia
Flowering Euphorbia
There was also a flowering plant that seemed to be a Euphorbia, as well as a fruiting cactus with Beavertail-like nodes. Coffee growing amidst cactus, another seeming contradiction that exists in Yemen.
Adenium obesum?
Adenium obesum?
I was sure I had this plant in my cactus collection at home. It's fairly common, Adenium obesum. Mr. Sowaid said it was not native to the area but I looked it up upon my return and it seems to be native to parts of Africa and Arabia.
Coffee Drying
Coffee Drying
As we got closer I could see the coffee drying on the roofs of the village below. They do not have space for "drying patios" like Central America, so the roofs are a convenient place, as well as another limitation on volume.
I can see coffee now ...
I can see coffee now ...
As we approached Lower Gart I couls see that many of the roofs had coffee drying. Indeed, this is the middle of the Yemeni Harvest (October-December) so it makes sense.

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