Friday, May 18: This morning, Mario, Sultan and I get up early to have breakfast at our favorite Al Musanaah establishment, only to find the restaurant’s air-conditioning is not working properly. In these temperatures, this makes for a rather unpleasant experience. We’re hungry though, so we sit and eat anyway, despite the sultry & stifling atmosphere. This little restaurant does make the nicest omelets and chapatis!
We drive inland again through ar Rustaq and Al Awabi until we reach the turnoff for Wadi Mistal, where we begin the 24km drive through the flat part of the wadi, over a bumpy and rocky road. I’m taking it easy with my car today after yesterday’s rough ride because I’m worried about something else hitting and further damaging the underside of the car. Because of that, it takes us quite a while to drive. At the end of the wadi, we catch a glimpse of the village of Wekan perched precariously on the mountain ahead of us. Now we just have to make it up the mountain so we can walk through the lovely gardens.
We curl up and around the dirt roads. I’m getting a little worried about the last steep hill into the village. The last time Mario and I came up here, we had difficulty getting up that incline. I don’t know why, but my trusty GMC Terrain, which is, after all, an ALL-WHEEL drive, did NOT want to go up that last incline. I had the car in low gear and had my foot to the floor, but the car just sat on hill and wouldn’t budge!! I had to keep backing down the hill and trying to gather momentum on a flatter stretch, but this “stretch” was not long; neither was it totally flat. Besides, right after the flat part, I had to take a hard right turn, which slowed my momentum considerably. That last time, we finally made it up the hill after 3 attempts. I don’t know what’s the point of having an all-wheel drive if it’s not going to get you where you want to go!!
This time I can tell my car is struggling to get up some of the inclines; somehow it makes it, slowly but surely. Finally, the village is in sight and we encounter that last steep incline. Again, we make it part-way up and suddenly the car comes to a standstill. It won’t budge. It doesn’t stall out; neither does it seem to be spinning its wheels. It simply won’t move. Mario and Sultan decide they will get out and give it a push. They do so, but as we are on such a steep incline, I’m worried about the car rolling back over them. They try once, and when the car rolls back a bit, I protest: we can’t do it this way! So Mario and Sultan stand to the side, to decrease the weight in the car, and I back down the hill 3 separate times, trying and failing each time to gather enough momentum to make it up the hill. Finally, on the 4th attempt, the car huffs and puffs and makes it up. I pull into the lowest level parking lot in the village and turn off the car.
Meanwhile during all these attempts to get up the hill, the air-conditioner starts blowing out warm air and two lights come on in the dash. One is a light with a picture of a car going up a curvy road, the other is the same picture with a big slash through it. Strange! Two pictures showing the same thing but opposites!! What does this mean?
As I only have an Arabic manual to my car, I have no idea what this means. Later I show Sultan the handbook and he tells me the icon means the car doesn’t like the road! Wow, finicky car! Sultan relays that the car has a 2.4 liter engine. Later, online, I find this about my car: The Terrain is available in SLE and SLT trims with two powerplants. The entry-level engine in the Terrain is a 141hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder unit with the V63.2-litre engine offering an output of 223hp.
Now, I hate to admit to being a stupid female, but I have to say when it comes to cars, I don’t know anything. Here I am in a foreign country and I have a bought a car I really don’t know anything about. When I find out today, 6 months after purchasing this vehicle, that it only has a 2.4 liter engine, I have learned the hard way something not so great about this vehicle. Mario, who also admits knowing nothing about cars, suggests that maybe a 2.4 liter engine is just not powerful enough for a vehicle this size! This must be why I cannot get up a really steep incline. This is a problem that cannot be fixed. Sultan suggests I sell the car and get another one. Since THAT is definitely NOT an option, my only other choice is to stay off of roads like these that are just too steep and need more power than my little car is capable of delivering.
Anyway, back to Wekan. We walk up the Persian steps through the gardens and marvel over the field of green onions and tiny white flowers, grape arbors with bunches of green grapes, pomegranates, figs, lemons, berries, and other pretty white flowers with delicate antennae. We have come up here at this time specifically to see everything in full bloom. Apparently, we have missed the apricots as most of the trees are fruitless. We do find one tree with a few small apricots, but most of the fruit has fallen off the tree and is rotting on the ground… 😦 The weather up here is lovely; because of our altitude, though it’s warm, it’s breezy and slightly cooler than down in the wadi.
On our way home from today’s adventure at Wadi Mistal, we make a stop at Al Fair in Muscat, where I pick up 4, yes FOUR, kinds of cheeses, and some lime-flavored Tostitos, which I’m unable to get at the Lulu in Nizwa. We drive the 1 1/2 hours to my house, where we share the cheese and Tostitos. Mario is trying to give me an initiation into drinking Scotch, but I just can’t make myself like it! I keep wrinkling up my nose and shivering with every sip I take. I think I’ll stick with my red wine.
As Mario and Sultan have listened all weekend to my small collection of CDs, they have become enamored with some of my tunes. They each ask me to burn them a CD with some of their favorite songs. Their playlist includes Autour de Rocher by Jimmy Buffett, I & Love & You by the Avett Brothers, Hurt by Johnny Cash, She’s Mine by Brett Dennen, A Long December by Counting Crows, Baptized by Lenny Kravitz, If There’s Any Justice by Lemar and Incomplete by the Backstreet Boys, among others…
What a rockin’ weekend… 🙂