Thursday, May 10:  This morning my friend Tom and I get an early start to explore the ruins and plantations at Birkat al MouzBirkat al Mouz, in Arabic, means “Pool of Bananas,” and bananas are in fact grown in this lush oasis, along with date palms galore.

one of the first buildings we enter in the first ruined village

We go mainly to explore Old Birkat, just east of the town center, an abandoned village with ruined mudbrick houses stacked in a hodge-podge up a steep hillside.  There are actually what appear to be two towns separated by a small distance.  We start up the pathway to the less famous village, climbing over rocks and fallen debris to make our way up the hill.  When we get near the top, we can see plantations of date palms spread out over the horizon.  A small watchtower on a rocky hilltop keeps guard over the village.

date palms as far as the eye can see

In one of the old houses, we find some cool paintings of date palms.

I love the paintings of the date palms.

We wonder about the electric wires strung out over the village; they don’t seem to be connected to anything and the village has been abandoned for quite some time.

the watchtower in the first abandoned village, with non-working electric lines strung across….

At one point, from the top of the first village, we can see the other village perched on a neighboring hillside.

the other village perched on an adjacent hillside

We climb back down through the village, looking into rooms where the roofs have caved in.  Several times we walk on the top of buildings, a little worried that the roofs might cave in under our feet.  Tom says that will be something to write about in my blog, when I break my leg and he bursts out laughing.  I say, Or vice versa!! 🙂

a huge falaj at the top of a thick 15-foot-high wall along the perimeter of the plantation

a date palm bursting with dates

bunches and bunches of bananas

little blue dragonfly

“A garden is to be a world unto itself, it had better make room for the darker shades of feeling as well as the sunny ones.” ~ William Kent

After a walk through the lush green gardens, we head to the other small village. We run into a Pakistani man pushing a wheelbarrow full of plants from the garden.  I’m not sure if they are weeds or edible plants, but I feel they must be edible because of the care he’s taken with them.

fruits of labor

We climb up to the second village, where the views are amazing, just as they were in the first village.

the view from the top of the second village

ruins and plantations

Old Birkat

another ruined watchtower

a little goat looking out the window of his house… 🙂

a little ruined room

It is fun exploring these ruins and gardens; especially as they are so close to home.  Little gems like these exist all over Oman, totally ignored and neglected by the Omanis.  I don’t think they realize what an amazing heritage they have in these ruins.  I’m glad I’m here now to see them, because I’m afraid they will eventually turn to dust, wasted away by the elements ~ sun, heat, wind, rain and time.