Friday, January 27: This morning the boys and I leave Camp Al Areesh and head directly for Wadi Bani Khalid. This is one of the greenest and most scenic wadis in Oman. It has great swimming holes and picnic areas, so Omani families love to flock here on weekends. I came here last on the National Holiday in late November, and it was packed! This weekend, we’re lucky in that there aren’t many people. We get to enjoy it in relative solitude.
I think the boys are getting a little homesick and are feeling tired of all our exploring. They say, though they like it here, that all the wadis are starting to look alike. One of my colleagues who has been in Oman for about 5 years has told me the same thing; eventually all the wadis start to look alike. I felt this way in Korea about the Buddhist temples. Once you’d seen one, you’d seen them all. Though this is a beautiful wadi, and I was thrilled to see it the first time around, this time we’re all a little bored by it. Or maybe we’re just weary from all our travels.
We walk to the right of a series of large swimming pools and follow a rough boulder-strewn path for about 20 minutes to the deep part of the wadi. At some point along the way, an Omani boy starts tagging along with us. He can’t speak much English so he just walks in silence.
We end up at the Muqal Cave, which has a horizontal slit for an opening, sort of like a person’s mouth. There is no way I will go into this cave, but the Omani boy encourages the boys to go inside. None of them have flashlights. I know the Omanis know all the ins and outs of their country, so I don’t worry they will get lost. They all three duck into the mouth of the cave and don’t return for quite some time. At one point I start to imagine the worst and I yell into the cave, only to be answered by dead silence. I worry, I fret. Then I hear voices and before I know it they are all ducking and coming out of the cave. Apparently there is a large chamber inside, but they couldn’t really see anything because they didn’t have flashlights. Hmmm.
We make our way back out of the wadi and since the boys are getting warm, they decide to take a dip in some of the pools. They are surprised to find the pools are quite warm. Apparently there are two sources of the water. One source is from the Muqal Cave and is warm, the other water comes from the mountain and is cool. They have fun splashing about and jumping in the water until Adam has a strange encounter where one Omani boy, a different one who joins us along the way, tries to pull Adam down to sit on his lap under a waterfall!! Adam gets pretty darn peeved about this, pushes himself away and then high-tails it out of that pool. The boy vanishes as quickly as he appeared.
We decide we’ve had enough swimming and traveling. We grab some lunch and fruit juice at the little restaurant near the entrance to the wadi and then head back to the car. The boys want to return to my flat in Nizwa, which they like very much for a home away from home.
We drive the long way back, nearly 3 hours, with only one stop. When we arrive in Nizwa, we eat a yummy dinner at the Spicy Village and then take a long walk together under the Nizwa stars.
This is our next to the last weekend together and I have to return to work tomorrow. I hope they’ll enjoy their last week hanging around in my flat and taking it easy before they head back to the USA on February 3.