We’re finally here!
Ok, we’ve been here for about two and a half weeks now, but we’re officially here in blog world. It’s been plenty of time to learn a few things about the place and to start exploring some of the hidden spots nearby.
Three Things I Have Learned About Living in Oman So Far
- I will learn patience by being here. I hope.
- Things happen slowly here. I know, I know, I am meant to be the one who touts the ideals of slowness, but sometimes slow is frustrating. It’s particularly frustrating when there is not a thing you can do to influence the speed in any way. You have to just accept that it will take twice the time you think it might, even if you have already prepared for double the amount of time you think it will take. That’s just the way it is. Have some tea and relax into the phrase insha’Allah. This is good practice for me, but man is it hard sometimes!
- Winter is a relative term.
- Someone yesterday asked me if I agreed that it was a little too cold. I did not agree (although I pretended to to be friendly). In the deepest darkest of night last night it was 65F/18C. We slept under light blankets with the window wide open. It is not cold.
- I really like it here.
- Despite frustrations about flat hunting, bureaucracy about visas and general disagreement about why some things must happen the way they do, I am really enjoying it so far. The aforementioned frigid temperatures are just right for me. I have met a lot of really lovely, very friendly, totally laid back and enjoyable people. We might have a flat to live in in the next couple of days; a little home of our own after years of temporary living. That might even happen today. Insha’Allah.
Our First Official Hike
One of the things I am most excited about doing in Oman is exploring the natural wonders it has to offer. There are wadis that need hiking, dive sites that need visiting, and sand dunes that need Jeeping. So much to do! My best Christmas present may have been this stack of books and maps about Oman. I am dying to start working through them!
We have been flat hunting on the weekends, so we haven’t had a lot of time to get out and about yet, but we did manage to sneak in a little hike in the city last week and it was beautiful. We saw incredibly dramatic scenery and stopped to watch lots of little creatures going about their days. Plus, we had the whole place to ourselves. Without anyone else around or any sounds from the city, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and yet we were still home in time for lunch.
I’m quite impressed with how well marked the trail was. It’s obviously maintained regularly so you know where you’re headed, which is pretty helpful when all the rocks tend to look the same (I’m sure the geographers out there would readily disagree, however). The trail we took was C38, from Riyam to Mutrah, for anyone who might want to visit. You can get a free printable map here from the Explorer guides (along with all their other trekking maps!).
This is a pretty short hike (2.5km/1.6miles), so it was perfect for something quick in the morning before it got too hot out (though it’s such a nice temperature right now it would be fine any time of day). It would be particularly stunning in the evening with that magic orange light on the rocks, and it would be easy to get out again before it got too dark. I’d love to do it again that time of day.
The trail starts with a pretty respectable climb up an old market path (which, according to the sign at the beginning, has been trodden for the last 5,000 years) with some good views behind you of Mutrah (the photo at the beginning of this post), then it descends into an open valley where you can see the remains of an old, abandoned village (or, as Eddie Izzard would call it, “a series of small walls“).
There isn’t much of the town remaining, but you can see the irrigation system they used (called a falaj) to pull water out of the canyon (called a wadi) when the rains came and the river flooded. These systems are quite clever pieces of engineering because they are so simple: rocks make a track for the water and other rocks divert it depending where you need it to go. A handy system when you have a lot of rocks kicking about.
The last leg of the walk is a leisurely scramble down the wadi itself, and around the few little pools that haven’t dried up yet from the last rains. This is where we saw the most life, as you’d expect. We spent quite a while watching all the strange creatures in the water. The weirdest one was a little orange beetle about the size of a 50p coin that stayed under water and swam like a frog. We thought it was a fish at first because of its color and movement, and we tried to chase it down to get a good photo but, alas, he would not cooperate. Here are a couple of shots Chris got of other critters around to make up for it:
It was a great little hike that took us about an hour and a half or so, even with all that stopping to ooh and ahh over tiny little things we enjoyed along the way. I’d definitely do it again and aim for those late afternoon hours when the light would make the rocks themselves centre stage. It’s amazing how much color there is in them. From a distance they all look pretty brown and boring, but up close there are so many great colors there: pinks, reds, oranges, greens, browns, dark purples, the works. It was impossible to get good photos of them in the flat afternoon light but believe me, they’re gorgeous!
Postcard of the Week
Speaking of color, I am way overdue in sharing the last postcard I sent! This gorgeous card is from the maker of the Secret Garden Colouring Book by Johanna Basford, one of the best colouring books out there for adults. Yep, that’s right, I said adults. Coloring is not just for kids any more! I know I said last time I would talk about why I love coloring, but this whole move to another continent thing put me a little off schedule. I shall tell you all about it next time. I promise!
See you then!
Want a postcard? Send me your details here and I will send you one soon!