Back in Muscat, I had to find a fun and adventurous alternative to the 50+Euro hotels. So I rented a car and off I was for some crazy road-trip on-board my moving hotel. After watching the sunset over Muscat’s famous incense burner by the sea, I drove until I found a remote mini-paradise beach, where by chance I met 3 other adventurers doing a road trip too. One of them was the owner of an adventure company in the Czech Republic, and upon telling him about my problem (only 200km/day allowed), he showed me how I could freeze the kilometer counter by unplugging a pin in the electronic control box below the wheel. In the morning, after having watched the stars for hours in solitude, we had the whole beach and caves for ourselves, and the dip was mandatory.
That day I had an awesome time going around small villages meeting the local people, and zigzagging through hills, and at some point I got invited to go on a boat ride with 2 teenagers. Actually, it was even me driving, which explains why I was going full speed sliding on the surface of the water until we arrived to some beautiful and remote landscapes where we went swimming, snorkeling and cliff jumping. Btw, after getting my car out the sand and pulling out the boat, we had tea & dates (like it’s custom to do), and I gave them some money to cover fuel expenses and a small tip. Luckily, petrol is dirt chip in Oman, costing about 5-6 times less than in Central Europe.
After some adventures, like getting flat on battery, I drove towards Sur, and really started loving that trip. All those huge, remote, empty but welcoming blue water and white sand beaches were making me the happiest man on earth. Whenever I got bored of the beaches, I just drove a few kilometers into the desert to climb some dunes or mountains, and I remember laughing like a little kid feeling on top of the world. Oh, and in one of those I had so much fun jumping from a cliff onto some dune a few meters lower.
It was in one of those days that I had my first camel kiss with a baby one, and I must have really enjoyed it because a few days later I had another one with a fully grown camel this time. A few times I wish that I had taken a camel with me, especially all those times that my car got stuck in the sand in an attempt to reach some beach or some hill top. It would have spared me the wait for rescue from locals on a jeep, or the struggle of digging a never ending amount of sand below the wheels. But at least I got better at it, and after a few trials I would always manage to get out by myself, and then getting to the beach by foot to cool down.
The fact of not even having a map, and much less a guide-book, was a complete asset in my favor, as I would just go on whichever road I felt like in my quest for never-ending adventures. Oh, I just remembered, I had a compass, which was my personal guide in intercity journeys. Maybe that explains why some morning I woke up stranded in the middle of nowhere, but at least with some amazing sights in front of me, and something stupid but fun to do, such as chasing the birds on the road or surfing downhill on the sand, or joining some locals for whatever they were doing. Oh, and I remember once, I saw a mini-tornado, which I chased like a rally car, only to realize that there were a couple of them per hour. And some random morning I woke up next to the mosque in the small village where I had slept, with some knocks on my window from kids going to a nearby school.
On my way across the desert, I met a cool Italian couple cycling around Oman. Actually, they were not feeling that cool because of the insane sun and hot air temperature, not even mentioning the burning tarmac. After making sure that they were fully equipped, I jumped back on my car, with 3 hitch-hikers that I had picked up along the way.
I went back to Nizwa because I had fallen in love with the place, and also to do an interview to get in to a Master program in Sweden, which I passed. In the night, while looking for a route by which I could reach the highest mountain in Oman, I happened to ask for directions to 2 Omani guys dressed in the traditional Omani clothes. Little did I know then, that this small question would turn out to be one of the best things of my trip. After sleeping in the palace of one of them, and dressing up in the white Omani clothes (a present from him, along with another gold knife present), I jumped into their jeep, and they started showing me all what the region had to offer.
As a summary, they taught me about the regions history, they instructed me on the subject of Islam, we visited the Falech, some sort of underground tunnels built many hundred years ago to bring water to the palm trees, they taugh me about the Wadi, a muge mass of water and mud that originates from the once a year very strong rain, that despite lasting for a very short time, it brings down insane quantities of water and destroys everything on its way. We also went to the highest peak around to have picnic, and on the way we explored the mountains, and they informed me about all the things that we could see from the top. We even visited a traditional sugar factory: They obtained juice by pressing the cane (tasty juice), which wa later heated for a couple of hours until the sweet mass had lost most of its moisture. Then it was brought to another place to dry, and then something else transformed it into little cristal, which were then sold. We also visited a deserted village, where nobody lives any more, and some ruins of another similar village. We did another detour to visit an old wise man, and to have lunch with him while observing the traditional cultures and enjoying the view of the sheep running around. I recall stopping by a seemingly straight pole with some weird straight marks on the floor, which turned out to be a solar watch that was anciently used to allocate equal irrigation times to everyone. Actually, I’m pretty sure that I’m forgetting some stuff, but you get the point: Omani Arabic people are the nicest, welcoming and kindest kind of people I have ever come across, in my whole life.
But the biggest thing that I learned from the trip, (apart from learning to change my flat tires 🙂 ), was that real Islam means love, respect from one another, and is honestly one of the most sophisticated ethic codes that I have come across. From this trip I learned that those who really follow Islam were the kindest, nicest, and most successful people that I came across. Islam is not a threat. Islam is not terrorism. Islam is simply a religion that teaches how to live altogether in harmony and peace, which encourages the Good, and condemns the wrong doing. And I would like to add that Islam is also a choice, not an obligation.