Cupid amidst Kalashnikovs
Then I continue to Zabid. Once the capital of the country, it has turned into a dusty village with dilapidated houses which were once white, most of which appear to have been abandoned. When I look closer, I see old, blue-painted and richly decorated wooden doors with heavy, handmade locks, framed by carved white walls. Ceilings with blue-yellow-red-grey motifs of flowers, leaves, stars, coffee pots and geometric patterns on beams in which you can still clearly recognise the original shapes of the tree from which they were cut. Small, white minarets with stubby tips lean against even smaller mosques. Italian director Pasolini lived here in the early 1970s and filmed his Il Fiore Delle Mille e Una Notte. The Flower of a Thousand and One Nights, also known simply as Arabian Nights: an erotic film about love and travel, and the essential role of fate which so often links the two. In the strict Islamic society of Yemen, where sensuality remains hidden far behind those beautiful doors, it's hard to imagine that this film could have been made here. It's equally unlikely that the same fate would catch up with me a few weeks later in this same country.