Friday, December 7: This morning, Mario and I take a leisurely stroll through the extensive gardens at Birkat al Mouz (literally “pool of bananas”), a small village close to the university. We spend two hours walking and listening and standing in still silence, trying to capture birds, especially the frustrating and elusive Indian roller, on film. Mario, with his nice zoom lens and supreme patience, succeeds; I don’t. We photograph tiny wildflowers, banana bunches and fronds, fields of sugar cane, and date palms. We find Bangladeshi workers hauling grasses on their heads and in wheelbarrows. One holds a fat white cat and asks us to take a photo of him, but as we ready our cameras, the cat bites him and escapes.
We patiently watch fat black & yellow bumblebees alighting on milkweed. We come across a secret grotto of sorts, where, behind a curtain of ferns, water drips down a niche in a wall covered in moss and algae. We climb up on the huge falaj that runs along the top of a tall stone wall, and we photograph the mosque standing above it like a sentinel. We discover a pretty ornamental tree with delicate dripping flowers. I take pictures of colorful Omani metal doors to add to my collection. Finally, we encounter an Omani, folding chair in hand, heading to a picnic in the middle of the plantation.