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Friday, Mary 24: I will carry to America hundreds of wonderful memories of my time here in the Sultanate of Oman.  There are too many to put into one blog post, as I have written over 475 posts during my 20+ months here.  As part of my fond farewell to Oman, here are my top 10 happy memories.

1.  On April 19, 2012, Mario, his Omani friend Sultan and I went on a mis-adventure to Wadi Damm.  It was shortly after a big rainfall and we had to cross about 10 fast-flowing wadis.  It was a foolish exploit, because many people get killed every year in flooding wadis; it rains so rarely here that most of the time the wadis are bone dry and people don’t realize how dangerous they are.  For us on this day, it was a grand & somewhat dangerous adventure.  We laughed a lot and then ended up at my house drinking wine and enjoying the night away ~ high jinks all around.  (an attempted trip to wadi damm ~ foiled by raging wadis)

one of the raging wadis on the way to Ibri

one of the raging wadis on the way to Ibri

2. On April 26, 2012, 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.  Kathy made the mistake of abandoning her shoes beside one of the pools in the canyon.  When she came out on the Balad Sayt side, she struggled mightily to walk over the burning gravelly path up to the village. She devised several methods to protect her feet, using discarded pieces of rotten wood which she tossed ahead of her one step at a time; this painstaking method didn’t work too well.  She finally tied some flexible bark around her feet with old twine.  I know it wasn’t too funny for Kathy, but Tom and I never laughed so hard in our lives! (52 pick up: success (aka overcoming adversity))

Kathy and her bark and twine makeshift shoes ~ at Balad Sayt, Oman

Kathy and her bark and twine makeshift shoes ~ at Balad Sayt, Oman

3. On March 28, 2013, Mario and I went up to Jebel Akhdar to see the roses.  The year before, we had tried to see the roses but had come too late.  This time, we were able to breathe in the sweet fragrance and take lovely photos of the pink blossoms.  We had a lovely time walking through the rose gardens and then having wine and dinner at the Sahab Hotel after (the roses of jebel akdhar & a lovely encounter with an irish couple).  We repeated similar amazing experiences on Jebel Akhdar so many other times, I can’t even count them all.

Roses on Jebel Akhdar

Roses on Jebel Akhdar

Everyone who reads my blog knows that my favorite place in Oman is Jebel Akhdar.  Each time I went up the “Green Mountain,” I had different memorable experiences that I’ll carry in my heart always.  Here are a couple more of my favorite times.

4) On May 11, 2012, Mario and I went hiking on Jebel Akhdar in search of the roses, but we were too late to see them.  However, we had one of many great conversations throughout the course of our friendship.  After our hike, he invited me to come over and share lime-flavored white corn TOSTITOS® tortilla chips (a rare find in Oman), apricot & almond cheese, cheddar cheese and a bottle of wine.  We sat in his air-conditioned living room and talked about the tribal society of Oman and the confining rules under which a tribe must live, a conversation I call “escaping the tribe.”  Sometimes I think I should write a book titled “Conversations with Mario.” (searching for roses on jebel akhdar & a conversation about escaping the “tribe”)

Ruins at Wadi Bani Habib on Jebel Akhdar

Ruins at Wadi Bani Habib on Jebel Akhdar

5) On January 13, 2012, my sons came to visit me in Oman, and all of us loved our excursion into the watery cave at Wadi Shab (cliff-jumping in the hidden caves of wadi shab).  Stunningly beautiful.

The entrance to the pools at Wadi Shab that you must swim through to get to the cave

The entrance to the pools at Wadi Shab that you must swim through to get to the cave

6) On April 11, 2013, Mario and I went to explore Wadi Bani Kharous.  Not only did we explore the multitudes of picturesque villages in that wadi, but we experienced some great Omani hospitality along the way. (a trip to wadi bani kharous)

Omani hospitality at Wadi Bani Kharous

Omani hospitality at Wadi Bani Kharous

7) On Tuesday, February 21, 2013 Mario and I went on a huge road trip, where we explored Wadi Dayqah Dam, among other places, and ended up in Wadi Arbiyyin on the east coast of Oman.  Then we headed to Muscat and had a sushi buffet.  It was the road trip to beat all road trips, and perfectly lovely, except for the gunshots that scared us out of our wits. (wadi arbiyyin >> quriyat >> sushi in muscat. {the road trip: part 3})

Wadi Arbiyyin on the east coast of Oman

Wadi Arbiyyin on the east coast of Oman

8)  When I first arrived in Oman, I coudn’t find anyone who wanted to go exploring Oman on the first National Holiday, so I went by myself. I had a great time at Al Areesh Desert Camp meeting random people and listening & dancing to the Bedouin music. (national holiday chapter 3: sharqiya sands & al-areesh desert camp)

Bedouin singers at Al Areesh Desert Camp

Bedouin singers at Al Areesh Desert Camp

9)  When I went to Jordan over the 2011 Eid, I met an Italian guy, Guido, who came to visit me in Oman in December.  We had a great time going to Wadi Tiwi on his visit here on December 2, 2011. (cathy takes guido to wadis tiwi & shab…and up the coast to muscat)

Exploring Wadi Tiwi with Guido

Exploring Wadi Tiwi with Guido

10) The first time I went to Nakhal Fort, had lunch with an Omani family, then drove through Wadi Mistal to Wekan was simply magical. (nakhal fort, lunch with an omani family & a wild drive up wadi mistal)

My first magical time in Wekan

My first magical time in Wekan

I’ve been to some of these places many times, and each time was wonderfully special.  I’ve picked my favorites based on a feeling of peace and contentment I experienced during those specific times.

My time here in Oman is coming to a close.  I am ready to leave, but I will carry many happy memories with me. 🙂

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