National Geographic : 1969 Aug
the Anti-Locust Research Centre (below). "We'll be going into Rashida country," Jim said. "They're a tribe that came across from Saudi Arabia donkey's years ago. They know every rock and pebble along the coast." We stopped overnight at Massawa to pick up Hamdan, then turned north at first light to churn along a sandy track, trailing rooster tails of powdery dust. Jouncing and rattling, we ground through scrub brush that lashed at the door sides, or listed and pitched over the sandy undulations of dunes, until our eyes blurred from staring at the liquid panels of heat. Six hours later, Hamdan pointed us through a path in the salt grass to the goatskin tents of a Rashida camp. "The house of my father, Hamid," he announced. "Allah akbar!" the father hailed us as he emerged from the lee of a shade flap. "God is great! He has brought you to us." His angu lar wind-carved face, bordered with a strip of beard along the jaw, might have come from an Assyrian bas-relief. "Would that you had come yesterday," he said to me, "then God would have let us be friends longer." He led us under the flap to sit on goat-hair mats dyed red with henna, while his wife served us Arabic coffee spiced with ginger from a flask with dried grass across the mouth to filter the grounds. I listened to the whisk whisk of her bare feet on the sand as she withdrew in silence. "How are the locusts, Hamid?" Jim asked. "Mush kwayis," the father answered. "Bad." Then he added an Arabic expression, "As bad 224 as if Rashid had run off with Abdullah's wife!"