Where in the world….

am I?

this crazy planet is amazing.


A swim in the the Gulf of Oman had me looking ahead to Afghanistan, right to India and down to the Maldives as I swam in luke warm tender waters.

Alone, but not alone

Fisherman down the way celebrating their bounty.

And a stop to buy fresh bread, back in Al Ain as we watched the sun set on a remarkable two days.

fresh fresh
made the same way for centuries
cooked along the sides
and so the day ends


A must visit again part of our world.

 

 

Such Adventures

Driving along the deserted beach road, our eyes were drawn by a massive flock of birds on the skyline.   We followed them and found a scene which, were it not for the truck, could have been taking place 2000 years ago.

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Such excitement, such joy, such energy,

We were caught up in this primeval act of abundance.   A sardine run, nets, men, old, young, in between, working together to collect this bounty.

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Salt, sea and sun protection
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and the net was full
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And He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:6

Their net was full; so full they could not lift it but had to lift the fish out in buckets.

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And all the while we watched, enthralled, amazed, humbled why what we saw.

And all the while, the men would stop for a minute, clap and sing and offer praises to their Allah for the bounty.

My cup runneth over

Surely a day not to be forgotten in a hurry.
Remarkable, ancient, and offered to us becaus
e we wandered off with open minds and no agenda.

Annie, Mick, – thank you.

My cup runneth over

and so, still marveling at the amazing sardines we had seen, we wandered further, alone, no one in sight, but a dot in the ocean.   Our eyes adapted, finding it hard to comprehend what they saw.

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A bull in the ocean, bobbing up and down, accompanied by a young man who bobbed with him.   Surely not.

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But so it was.   And the bull (turned out to be an ox :))  swam with his master deep in the ocean for at least ten minutes as we sat and watched, mesmerized.

They then came closer, into shallow water and with tender care they scrubbed the beasts flanks, chest, belly.   Again we were witness to a ritual that surely goes back to biblical times.

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The bond between boy and beast was, even from our distant position, almost palpable.   The one relied on the other, – for what?   transport, food, strength, support.

Only they will know, if they even think about it.

But there they were, together in a ritual of cleaning, healing and I am sure bonding.

As we learnt later, a weekly ritual, which we by chance, and gratefully were privileged to witness, while standing apart.

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So what’s next?

Wondering what the next adventure would be, I put myself into the care of dear dear friends (whose value to me is far greater than the riches that created the land they now call home) and waited to see where that led.

Citadels, landscapes, buildings, roads, birds, people beyond expectation and that was only day one πŸ™‚

Early today we breakfasted, loaded our picnic, passports, bathers (swimming costumes). smiles, sense of adventure and headed to Oman – Sohar to be exact.

An hour’s easy drive from Al Ain.   A very defined custom’s border post; no photography, stand in line, and the excitement of a stamp in my passport, Oman πŸ™‚   (No EU freedom of movement here.)   And finally now Sultans rule, not Sheikhs (I learn something new every hour here) and immediately the landscape has changed.

Mountains, now.   More rugged, more austere, more “rubbish”as my father and his mountaineer friends used to refer to this kind of rock ; not the sort of stone that draws climbers into its orbit, but rather hastens them in the opposite direction.

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Rugged
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and remote
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slightly wild
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old and modern
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Ominous
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they formed such barriers
Life here must have been unbearably tough, and in many areas, I am sure still.   Reading, as I am, Rags to Riches, the story of Dubai/Abi Dubai one can only marvel at the speed with which this change has occurred.

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to villages along the way
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look outs
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mosques (different shapes from Al Ain
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colours, shadows
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guarding everything
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these mountains are beautiful in an austere way
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A special stop at Sohar for a picnic tea and biscuits, lovingly offered by Mick,; saw a middle aged man beautifully clad in white quietly ‘join’ us.   

He sat on a bench right behind us, close enough in an empty vastness to be ‘part of our space’ and since there was a vast area with seating to chose from, I am guessing his solitude was beginning to weary him.    

And he sat,

silently,

hands on knees,

looking ahead and studiously avoiding any visual contact with us.

It was a Saturday, a holy day and the streets were still deserted.

We spoke no arabic.

He spoke no English

He declined our offer of tea.

He declined our offer of biscuits.

As we packed up to leave,

we offered him some fruit,

he took an apple and banana

We left as he sat,

alone in the picnic ground,

beautifully clad in white on a holy day.

 

 

Flying 😩

Flying today is not as i have said previously for the faint hearted but demands a strong constitution and sense of humour

My travel companion this time is an elderly gentleman, not spilling over into my seat physically as has been the case in the past, but nonetheless he spills over.

The first large loud and distinctly pungent burb exploded (there is no other word to describe it) with such force several heads turned our way. 

I maintained a stoic dignity looking ahead, a little unsure of the appropriate response. He is elderly, there are cultures where that is a sign of courtesy and acknowledgment of a good meal – we had been given a tiny packet of saw dust tasting nibbles – perhaps that was it? 

His voice is loud and demanding and the slight Serbian air hostess is politely taking offence at his tone. She and I make eye contact and understand one another. Another Loud sound emerges with a huge sense of satisfaction and I inhale tomato juice I didn’t order πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ and continue to look ahead – “I heard nothing”

A sneeze follows, we all jump and the sounds that follow shall not be described 😳
Special meals are now the norm and it is a circus as everyone around me seems to have swapped their seats and my Serbian air hostess is wandering around with huge baskets of specials trying to find the owner of a seat number; vegetarian Hindi, vegetarian; ( there can be a difference?) Gluten free, you ordered low calorie? Oh, nut free? Lactose free? No I don’t have an order for sugar free; boneless fish?

And finally the normal meal trolley arrives – by which time most people have had their specials so I feel special as she aims directly for me – almost the only one left to feed πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

One thing I know, whichever meal anyone gets, they will all fit the bill of taste free.
And my travelling companion now slurps with great delight, (oh that I could share the sound with you πŸ˜œπŸ˜‚)another tomato juice – no ice, salt yes, no pepper! No good

Perhaps the burbs are not after all a sign of contentment 

We are both after all on a long distance flight!
I too may start to burb if any more tomato juice, with or without salt and pepper is served 😳
Flying requires a sense of humour, strong constitution, short legs (score there 😜) and a very good book (score there too) 
And we are still not there yet 

Next stop Qasr Al Muwaijii

Next stop Qasr Al Muwaijii
A mouthful for an non Arabic speaker like me – so I’ll call it the Fort 
Actually it is one of many forts built over the centuries to protect the oasis (Al Ain) and irrigation channels (aflaj) that were created by the locals. 

This one was built by Sheikh Zayed the Great (1826-1909)

For those who care😜it is bounded by the Hajar Mountains (east) and the rolling dunes of the Al Runb’ al

Khali (west), meaning the Empty Quarter. Just how empty, I hope to discover next visit. 

Traditional dancing by elegantly clad men enchanted everyone and watching the young boys watching their obvious heroes and trying to copy them enchanted me.   

Once again the men and women displayed great courtesy and patience as we asked questions that I’m sure they have had to answer thousands of time (or just maybe not- such as, what so do you wear under your hajib? She, a skirt and t shirt. I did not ask him 😜)

If it were only women she would not cover herself and at home, in the presence of her father or brothers she would uncover.   

No, it is not hot, it is very light fabric.    

No, generally the women don’t wash the men’s robes. They are sent out to be cleaned and pressed.  

High quality Egyptian cotton for those wondering.

With eyes now tuned to detail I note the beautiful detail in the hajibs- the sleeves embroidered in black, scalloped perhaps, hemmed artistically. But always subtlety.  

Nothing subtle about the eyes though – usually heavily made up, with deep lashes, dark kohl, they seem to present smouldering power and meekness at the same time. 

University education is accessible to everyone and I have been repeatedly taken aback when talking to a ‘lady in black’ to discover she is a practising dentist, engineer, doctor. Says something again about my preconceived ideas 😒

The adventure continues …..

1946
2017
The musician
Welcome
A dance
Following our heroes
Almost got there
One day ….
And so I learn ….
So gracious
The old and the new