Thursday, April 26:  I came up with my photos for Sherene’s 52 Pick Up theme purely by accident this week.  In her photo challenge, she wrote: “Has there been a period of adversity in your life that you have overcome?  Have you successfully stayed away from junk food  for a hour, week, month?  Or maybe you are ready for swimsuit season!  Be creative and have fun!”

Today, two of my friends, Kathy and Tom, and I ventured across the Hajar Mountains in Oman.  We drove over a treacherous dirt road along the edges of steep mountains through Wadi Bani Awf toward an idyllic little village called Balad Sayt.

In order to get to this beautiful village, we had to clamber through a pool-filled canyon to emerge on the other side in an open bowl surrounded by mountains.  The village with all its lush green plantations sits in the middle of this bowl.

I guess this might be where Kathy took off her shoes in the canyon??

Walking through this canyon involves wading through some thigh-deep pools, climbing up through crevasses over deeper pools, and hugging the canyon walls while climbing along narrow ledges above other boulder-filled pools. It’s quite scary in some points because of the poor footing and the slippery rocks, which could easily result in slipping or sliding into one of these pools.  Slipping could in turn lead to broken bones or ruined cameras.

My friend Kathy at some point along the canyon walk decided to leave her shoes on one of the ledges in order not to ruin them while wading through the pools.  Had I known she was going to do this, I would have advised her against it.  I knew from having been here before that there was still a long gravelly path ahead in the canyon, as well as a lot of walking through the village of Balad Sayt.  I didn’t realize she had discarded her shoes until I heard yelping behind me as she started walking over the gravel path.  I looked and she was gingerly walking over the hot gravel and boulders along the path in her bare feet!

Kathy puts little boards on her feet to get over the gravel

Kathy puts little boards on her feet to get over the gravel

Several times she wanted to give up and just sit and wait for Tom and me.  I protested, saying she HAD to see the village; we didn’t come all this way for nothing!! So, with real pioneer spirit, she tried to devise different methods to protect her feet so she could continue walking.  First she found an old rotten piece of wood which she broke in half into two foot-sized pieces.  She made her way by lifting one foot and tossing the board in front, lifting the back foot and then picking up that wood and throwing it in front, etc.  As you can imagine, it was quite slow and tedious.

Kathy’s improvised bark shoes

For a brief time, she tried to use her towel as a kind of hammock for her feet, but that didn’t work very well either.

Finally we came to the road to the village, where at least she could walk on pavement.  However, the pavement was quite hot and she still had lots of walking ahead.  She happened to find some thin flexible bark and pieces of yellow twine lying in a jumble near the canyon exit. I guess it’s a good thing there is not good rubbish disposal in Oman.  She fashioned two makeshift shoes out of the bark and tied the bark to the bottoms of her feet with the twine.  After she did this, we walked slowly along and happened upon a garden of aloe vera plants, one of which she picked and rubbed onto the bottoms of her soles.  Meanwhile, we were all having a great laugh over the entire situation, which was really quite ludicrous!

Kathy with her makeshift shoes surrounded by aloe vera plants

Some Pakistani guys in a house we passed along the way later brought her some deteriorating plastic slippers which were huge on her, but she wore them anyway as we walked through the gardens.

Later, she wondered how on earth she would get back through the canyon.  There is a way to get out of the village without going through the canyon, but we needed a car and our car was on the other side of the canyon.  She said she just knew we would find someone who could drive us to the other side.  We figured our friend Tom could climb back through the canyon to pick up the shoes she left halfway along the path, while we drove back to the car with some kind-hearted Omani.  Sure enough, while sitting along the edge of the road, she found a villager going to Ar-Rustaq and she talked him into driving us back to our car.

Talk about SUCCESS (aka OVERCOMING ADVERSITY). I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with so much faith and determination. This girl definitely gets the award!