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Thursday, April 4:  For the second Thursday in a row, I go up to Jebel Akhdar to see the rose gardens.   This time, I take my colleague Malcolm and his lovely wife Sandy, who has come from Britain to visit Malcolm for her spring break.

We go up the mountain late in the afternoon because we only want a short walk through the sprawling rose gardens in the picturesque Al Ayn, a village perched on a huge rock-spur jutting out from the escarpment.  Last week, Mario and I came up here, and there were multitudes of tiny buds on the bushes.  This week, more roses seem to be in bloom, but there are still millions of buds, meaning there will still be roses to see for at least several more weeks.

we start our walk through the rose villages

we start our walk through the rose villages

We walk along the trail from Al Aqr to Al Ayn, where we see below us the large escarpment where the rose bushes and fruit trees and onions are planted.

the rose gardens on the plateau

the rose gardens on the plateau

closer up of the rose gardens

closer up to the rose gardens

Malcolm and Sandy

Malcolm and Sandy

We walk through a grapevine trellis, with baby vines just starting to curl through the lattice.  At this point, we have to make a decision.  Either we have to walk along the falaj, which is quite high in some spots and requires good balance, or through a boulder-filled wadi.  We decide to walk through the wadi.

grapevines on the trellis

grapevines on the trellis

a little pond

a little pond

We come upon a little pond full of croaking and mating frogs.  We stop for quite a while laughing at their mating rituals and shenanigans.

we hear frogs croaking and see all kinds of mating rituals

we hear frogs croaking and see all kinds of mating rituals

reflection in the frog pond

reflection in the frog pond

As we climb out of the wadi, I find this solitary flower, probably a weed, clinging to the rocks.

a pretty weed

a pretty weed

Atop the plateau now, we come upon the rose bushes with their heady fragrance.

the roses

the roses

buds

buds

rosebuds

rosebuds

and more rosebuds

and more rosebuds

As we walk along the falaj, we hear female voices and see some hands reaching from beneath the bushes and plucking the roses off the bushes.  One of the ladies gives me a handful of blossoms.

a gift of roses from one of the rose-picking women

a gift of roses from one of the rose-picking women

As we walk a bit along the falaj, we see the rose bushes in front of the mosque.

roses and the mosque

roses and the mosque

roses in full bloom

roses in full bloom

beautiful pink roses

beautiful pink roses

rosebuds

rosebuds

Some of the pomegranate trees have buds on them now too.

pomegranate flower

pomegranate flower

And some of the clothes lines have laundry hanging out to dry.

laundry hung out to dry

laundry hung out to dry

We find a pretty door lined with colorful tiles.

the tiles around a door on Jebel Akhdar

the tiles around a door on Jebel Akhdar

And later, as we backtrack, the ladies picking the roses have collected a bundle of blossoms, which they will take to make rosewater.

collecting roses for rosewater

collecting roses for rosewater

We decide to walk back along the falaj instead of through the wadi, and after we make it back, I see the buds on the walnut trees have grown larger over the last week.

the bud on a walnut tree

the bud on a walnut tree

And I see this pale starry plant huddled on the ground, trying to be inconspicuous.

a pretty pale starry plant

a pretty pale starry plant

After our walk, we sit outside at the Sahab Hotel and I break out my red wine, while Sandy and Malcolm, Brits that they are, break out the bubbly.

Sandy and Malcolm

Sandy and Malcolm

And we watch the sun slide behind the mountains.

Sunset at the Sahab Hotel

Sunset at the Sahab Hotel

For once it’s not freezing cold on Jebel Akhdar.  We don’t even need our jackets tonight.  We brought them along though, because just one week ago, it was freezing.   After wine and laughs, we go inside for the buffet dinner, quite a treat.  Part of this excursion is for Sandy’s birthday, coming up next week, so we make toasts all around.

my buffet dinner at the Sahab

my buffet dinner at the Sahab

Happy birthday to Sandy!  I hope she has all she wishes for in the coming year. 🙂

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