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Notes on the Geography of Yemen: Aden

Back in the days when Europeans went by sea to India and points beyond, Aden was a regular port of call. Not today, although the airport receives a surprising amount of traffic not only domestically but from Amman and Dubai, Cairo, Nairobi, Djibouti, and Mogadishu.

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The southwest coast of Arabia still sees lots of small boats to and from the Emirates.

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Small-boat harbor.

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The same corner from farther back. The building in the distance is--so much for the exotic--a shopping center.

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Aden has two parts separated by a volcanic mountain. Within the volcano is the old part of town appropriately called simply Crater. This, on the other hand, is the newer part of town, the location of the modern harbor--and where the U.S.S. Cole had come to anchor.

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Looking from this newer part of town over toward the mountain within which lies Crater, of which more soon.

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Nobody's idea of scenic, but not as run down as you might expect.

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Well, what did every Victorian town need, first and foremost?

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It needed a park, too. Can you make out that object in the trees on the left? It's a dark mass atop a light-colored base.

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Ever she sits, apple in hand.

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If you really hanker for Empire, you have to head this way.

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It's close to the old passenger dock.

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Last decorated in 1950-something.

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Playing by the clocktower.

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The patch of grass is a surprising touch, but we're going to jump over the mountain to see something even more startling--probably the most exotic thing in the city.

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Here's an explanatory note.

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And here's the approach path.

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Looks like a tomb of some sort, but it isn't.

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Behind the arch, a stepped tank to capture runoff from the occasional storm--increasingly occasional these days.

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The water is held up by a series of weirs.

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Follow them upstream and you arrive at impassible ravines.

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It's like a water park. Just without water for the last several years.

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Some of the tanks are deep.

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The interconnections seem like something conceived by Escher.

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Water must once have splashed over these sills.

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And down several pathways.

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The sultan's palace, now the archaeological museum.

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The Al-Aidrus mosque and tombs.

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In case you thought that the Victorian architecture had bitten the dust: not a chance.

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Verandas for a hint of breeze.

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Deco, late in the colonial day.

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Another example.

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Post-colonial progress: the same shopping center seen from a distance in the first photo of this set.

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