Wednesday, 19 February 2014

wanderlust wednesday: why not oman?

Just imagine...'re hiking along a wadi tumbling with recent storm runoff and splashing children enjoying the boon. An old man stops you and insists you sit and share his watermelon; the July day is too hot to go without hydration. Delicious. Chilled, juicy and perfect. Around him his family has been busily preparing a feast among picnics. They dig roasted chickens out of a buried oven and lazily rotate sizzling kebabs while you watch from your cozy corner of their rug. Everything is relaxed: smiles, sunshine and spontaneity. They inquire if you've seen the waterfalls, but you haven't yet hiked far enough. Not to keep you, they point you on your way, but only after packing up triple helpings of everything for your enjoyment. Nothing is overlooked - straws, napkins and more precious water. You try to express your gratitude, but they just wave you on your way. You stroll down to the temporary waterfall and perch on a rock to watch the children gambol. As soon as you're seated, a boy of no more than 12 dashes up to you and bashfully proffers yet more kebab. He's gone before you can try for thanks. After a lunch as nice as any you've known, you pick your way across the wide, shallow waters of the wadi, only to have another family welcome you into their fold. Realising they can't feed you any more, it's tea after tea and a generous ride home from the remote setting which hadn't occurred to you would be impossible to find otherwise.  And a new family is born...

This is why I say to you: O-me, little Oman is undersold.

Perhaps, because it's in less-than-hospitable territory?

Or perhaps because, when measured on the stereotypical Middle Eastern yardstick, Oman hasn't protested, car-bombed, prohibited anyone from anything necessary to everyday life, overthrown a dictator, been ruled by a military, encouraged sexual harassment, or civil warred for decades.
So, why hear about them at all?

 Ah, perhaps it's because Oman doesn't do loud like their northern neighbor, that yacht-wielding, record-breaking, climate-defying, luxury-flaunting, island-building, ocean-rotting, immigrant-exploiting 'friend' Dubai

But, O-my how sad that all that is, because Oman's o-mighty good time.  
(Awful. I'll stop now.)

Things you know: Oman = miles of coastline and rolling sand dunes.

Things you may know:  Abandoned mud brick villages dot every mountainside, and what enormous mountains for those villages to dot. Safety?  Every passerby is your night in shining armor, the beauty to your beast. (See above, a very true tale. One of countless instances.)

Things you probably don't know: Dizzying canyons, picturesque oases (oases are real!), wisdom wielding turtles (yup, turtles), some highly palatable goat... there's this whole spectrum of color to this colorless sand. Luxuriant palm fronds. Richly woven textiles. Shimmering bedouin costumes. Flaming sunset skies. Flowers, foodstuffs and freely flowing water abruptly appear out of unpredicted crevices, all the lovelier for their unexpectedness. A true gift for a country that is over half ever-encroaching Sahara. A true gift for the wanderer who finds it.

- xx

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