This week’s photo is more of a mini-photo essay than usual. I’m providing more detail because the memory that this photograph evokes cannot be captured in a hundred or so words. What you see above is – according to our guides that day – known as “Belvedor,” shortened from “belle vue d’or,” which speaks to the view the hill affords. When I first saw Belvedor I had no idea how closely I would experience it.
Once our 4X4 arrived at the top of Belvedor, Omar, our guide, urged us to step out and enjoy the panorama of barren landscape and the inner reaches of the Gulf of Ghoubbet. Readers of this blog may recall Omar as the young man mesmerized by the effect of warm pools of water on his cigarette smoke in the Lac Assal photo essay.
When we opened the doors of the car, unrelenting gale-force winds nearly knocked us down. I can’t accurately estimate the velocity of the wind, but it was by far the strongest I have encountered outdoors and it remained steady. As I started to snap a few shots, I noticed that the 4X4 was turning around. I assumed the driver was just preparing for the descent while we photographed, but he was soon at the bottom of Belvedor.
Omar looked at us, smiled, and then announced that we would be descending Belvedor on foot. In order to do so (allegedly) safely, Omar, my wife and I threw our arms over each other’s’ shoulders and braved the slope simultaneously. We made our way down the steep decline on the right side of the images above, one joined step after another, with gusts whipping at every angle. Crouching a bit ensured that the wind would not knock us over and we soon returned to more level ground.
Although the initial realization that we were headed into the wind on a frightening angle was intimidating at first, we were glad that the guide surprised us and gave us this experience. I’d gladly fight Belvedor again.