Sunday, May 7, 2017

magic island


The phrase, "I'm going to Yemen," doesn't come up very often in my experience - less so nowadays. It's a place I first read about a few years ago that looked like one of those amazing landscapes we'd only encounter in a science fiction novel - Ray Bradbury's 'Mars' perhaps. Hidden away in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Socotra is a small collection of four islands that are part of Yemen in the Middle East. The largest among them is known as Socotra. While officially a part of Yemen, the island is 340 km (210 miles) away from Yemen while it is a mere 240 km (150 miles) away from Somalia. On all sides, the island is surrounded by a vast expanse of water.


Some 250 million years or more ago, when all the planet’s major landmasses were joined and most major life-forms roamed freely from one region to another, Socotra already stood as an island apart. Ever since Socotra has been a breeding ground of birds, plants and animals. The isolation from other land masses meant whatever evolutionary process the flora and fauna underwent never spread to the mainland.


While small in size, measuring 132 km (82 miles) long and 49.7 km (31 miles) wide this little, isolated island is a treasure trove of unusual things. Completely isolated, separated from land for millions of years, the flora and fauna have remained largely untouched by man and are found nowhere else in the world. The island's harsh environment includes wide sandy beaches, limestone caves and towering mountains, but is for the most part very hot and dry leading to the distinctive appearance of its plants.


If you want to read more and see more pictures you can find them here, but please don't mention the place to the Saudis or Elon Musk. We'll just let them think these really are pictures of Mars and they really should get out there right away.

* Lindsay found this beautiful video of the Socotran landscape. 

12 comments:

Sean Jeating said...

Ah, thank you for teaching an old man so often new things. :) Fascinating.
Some buildings in the third photo remind me of Yemen's national pavilion on the Expo 2000 in Hanover, which to me was one of the most remarkable.
As I have recently made a few steps backwards on my quest to become the politest blogger in this universe and those yet to discover, no words about Saudis and other "muskerades".

marja-leena said...

Wow, those trees in the top two photos are distinctly other worldly, somehow though I don't think it will make my bucket list for travel destinations - too hot methinks. You do find such interesting treasures to visit in the safety of this medium, thanks Susan!

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
Great pictures and post – more here should it be of interest.
Best wishes http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2431857/The-lost-world-Socotra-remote-island-plants-20-MILLION-years-old.html

susan said...

I'm glad you enjoyed reading about this very unusual place, Sean. The link I posted shows another picture of one of the medieval towns there.

Apologies for the reference to a couple of the more unpleasant aspects of our culture but the circumstances made it impossible to avoid.

susan said...

It's always so nice to see you've been by, Marja-Leena. The trees are called Dragon's Blood trees - their bark has long been used for red dyes. Another of Socotra's trees is the source of frankinsense.

While I'd love to see the place for myself I've decided that for the most part tourists should stay home or at least, close to home and let the hardy adventurers take the pictures for all to see.

susan said...

Hi Lindsay,
I'm happy you enjoyed reading about the place. The Daily Mail link is a good one but it's a shame the video wasn't more inclusive - or longer.
All the best

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
it's a shame the video wasn't more inclusive - or longer.- yes I agree but u tube was much better and worth watching .... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxkLc1M8880
thanks for the post
best wishes

Sean Jeating said...

Uff, I am still a master in causing misunderstandings, eh? :)
What I intended to say, was that for the mentioned reason I would not allow myself to write anything about certain Saudis et.

susan said...

Thanks for the wonderful video, Lindsay. I'll post a link to it as an addition for people to see.

susan said...

Oh, now I understand. I'd interpreted your remark as meaning you couldn't bear to even think of them. :)

Sean Jeating said...

Certain degenerated princes I'd sentence to ten years of severest swear-boarding, and afterwards to ...

susan said...

Swear-boarding?

I just wish there could be a cure instituted for their fear and greed.