The journey to The Gulf took weeks. We sailed and then took a train and then rode humpbacked horses known as camels through and endless sandy expanses. It was dry and hot and every nook of my body was pasted with sweat and grit. It was uncomfortable and dangerous, but one dusk, on the crest a huge sand mountain, we looked down on a palace surrounded by water – which I would later find out was channelled by long stone tunnels buried underground.
Palms and fig trees lined the massive square moat, casting shade over the shallow water. Sprawling around the central whitewashed palace were small villa-like buildings. There were no courts, no officious buildings, no town squares, but there were what the Vizier explained were their churches, or mosques, that had beautiful domed roofs and four towers, one at each corner.
Beyond palace, farmlands spread out with huts and simple mud brick homes which the local farmers lived and died in. It looked uncivilised, savage even, but it was beautiful – a beacon in the rawness of nature. In the late evening sun the buildings below us looked almost like a dream, as if they were planted amid the arid vastness of the desert. I loved it instantly.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey