Friday, May 24: Today I go up to Jebel Akhdar with my oldest friends, Anna, Kathy and Mario, for a farewell gathering. Anna is leaving the university at the end of July, a month after me, and Kathy is going on vacation in a couple of weeks. Mario will still be here for a while, but, regrettably, we will be leaving him behind as we vacate the premises.
I’m thinking it will be the same old stroll we always do, along the villages of rose garden fame. Anna, however, has other ideas. She wants to drive past Diana Point down into Wadi al Ayn, park the car and walk through the village of Al Qasha. Although I like the hikes we always do on the Green Mountain, I am surprised to find a new place to discover as I begin my last month in the Sultanate.
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” ~ Jack Kerouac, On the Road
You and I will meet again, When we’re least expecting it, One day in some far off place, I will recognize your face, I won’t say goodbye my friend, For you and I will meet again. ~ Tom Petty
We only intend to do an hour stroll, and that’s exactly what we do. We descend a rocky path down into the wadi, where we see terraces of pomegranate trees. We can look up to the escarpment above where the rose gardens and the three villages of Al Aqr, Al Ayn, and A’Sheragah are situated. It’s strange to see the escarpment from below when I’ve always been up at the top looking down. We see some beautiful wild flowering bushes, blooming pomegranate trees, and terraces fringed by fuzzy trees. Eventually we climb up on the falaj and walk along that until we reach a little pool where the spring seems to originate. Frogs are swimming in the pond. Other frogs are croaking out a symphony of sorts from a pool deeper in the wadi. A giant lizard lies placidly in the sun; Mario tells us he’s dead.
We make our way back to our car and drive up to the Sahab Hotel for their buffet dinner.
During dinner, we share tales of dreams, premonitions and ghosts. Mario doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he’s dreamt of people with whom he’s fallen out of touch, only to find they die within the next week or so. Kathy feels there is a presence of some sort in her flat in Oman. Anna has dreamt of carpets, cars and strange evil men, all of which (or whom) have shown up on her doorstep matching the dream images. I can’t say I’ve had any of these types of encounters, but I’m open-minded enough to believe there very well might be a different reality than what most of us know.
“I’ll never see them again. I know that. And they know that. And knowing this, we say farewell.” ~ Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore