Qulansiya. There we traded our SUVs for painted wooden boats and headed up the coast.
The boats slowed and suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by easily a hundred spinner dolphins, leaping and flipping, playing and diving all around us. A group of 3 or 5 or 6 or so would swim in formation, under the boat only to surface in tandem, like they were dancing all around us. They'd leap in 2s, one would go and shortly after another from the same subgroup- maybe it was a competition or a case of inspiration. It was remarkable.
After a long, wonderful day on and near the water, we went to Hadibo, the largest "city" and the site of our last night's lodging. Most of the group stayed in Socotra's largest hotel! I was tickled by the chosen superlative. Not the "best" or "best value" or anything like that, simply the largest. There are rumored to be only 2 other hotels on the island to give them competition for the title. There would be small reminders like this throughout our stay of just how remote this island is. One of the most interesting things to me is the fact that there's a Socotri language that is most closely linked to a pre-Islamic Arabic language that doesn't have much in common with modern Arabic.
Restaurants are in short supply as well but no matter. Our cooks set us up a long table on the beach after dark. We enjoyed a last meal under the stars and then a local women's band performed a few numbers for the group. Some groups trickled back to the hotel, others stayed for a farewell shisha and campfire.
The last morning we visited a nursery where they are growing baby versions of many of the endemic trees and plants. Young Dragon's Blood trees look remarkably like an ordinary desert yucca plant. It can take a hundred years or so to grow the fantastical umbrella trees like the ones we saw on the plateau! Baby Bottle trees, on the other hand, are unmistakably related to their older versions.
A very last stop before heading to the airport: a few shops in Hadibo. Some of the sarong style wraps worn by the Socotri men featured beautiful patterns and high quality cloth, several of us admired the fancy versions in the shop but settled on a simpler, everyday style to use at home as a sarong or throw or table cover or whatever.
After this last stop, it was back to the airport for our goodbyes and thank yous (something like "illa bukalla" in Socotri) to our crew and their beautiful and unforgettable home!