05-Feb-2006 -- Laḥij is the southernmost governorate in Yemen; within it is located a largish desert that creeps up to the start of the Ḥarāz mountains that stretch northwards right through the country and into Sa`udi Arabia. It has a reputation for being wild, desolate and punishingly hot. Its 700,000 inhabitants regularly cook at around the 45ºC mark. Most hail from the Ṣubayḥiyy tribe, which is independent of the two dominant tribes in Yemen, i.e. Ḥāšid and Bakīl. The town of Laḥij - the Governorate capital - is only 30 km or so north of the former British colony of `Adan (Aden), occupied for 130 years before becoming the capital of the independent state of South Yemen.
Two confluence points can be found in this governorate. 13N 45E is situated midway between `Adan and Laḥij town, and can be reached by turning off the main `Adan - Ṣan`ā' highway at a truck stop located around 7 km from the point. On the way, I coincidentally met a Yemeni friend from the British Embassy, Sunan al-Šamiri, who decided to come along for the ride. From the turn off, a reasonable asphalt road took us to within 2.4 km of the point, where it then became necessary to move onto a series of sandy tracks. Locals, selling tomatoes by their farms, were invaluable in their assistance in directing us onto an appropriate course, and we were finally able to bring the vehicles to within 61 m of the target! I suppose I could have (rather unsportingly) taken the pictures out of the car window, but instead I bravely undertook the 40-second walk into the cotton field in which the confluence point lay.
To the North are a few small farmhouses. The point itself is flanked by power lines and palm trees. The view to the South shows lines of cotton seedlings neatly planted in furrows. Women wearing brightly coloured abāyas were working in the fields to the SE (not photographed to avoid causing offence). In nearby fields there were camels trying to graze and laze in the dust. Notably, the area is significantly less green than it appears to have been during Rainer Mautz's visit almost a year ago.
Stopping only to buy some enormous tomatoes from a cheerful farmer, Sunan and I made our way back into `Adan to fill up with fuel before our long drive to the second point in Laḥij, 13N 44E.
For notes about confluence hunting in Yemen, or the involvement of the British Embassy Ṣan`ā' in the Degree Confluence Project, please see the report for 15N 49E.