Nizwa- Daris & Beyond.
This last few weeks have been busy ones in Nizwa.
The courses have begun in earnest which has meant that I’ve had four weeks of delivering five five hour seminars - workshops with only a couple of hours to prepare for them. Thank goodness there have been outlines and files available to read through and expand on before delivery!! Though there have been times when I have wondered if I would be able to have the resources altogether before meeting up with the course members.
Combined with a weekly trip to Ibra, a round trip of 320 km, to deliver a workshop and plan for other alternative ones, the weeks have begun to race by. There is the possibility that I may have to do a second trip each week - this time to Samail, a 120km round trip, which will add to the demands of the job. However, until that moment arrives, I’ll be thankful that I have only one long drive a week to consider.
In the weekends Joy & I have expanded our exploration of the interior of Oman as well as doing a couple of day trips to Muscat to shop for supplies and reading material that we can’t get easily in Nizwa. The trip to Muscat takes two hours which means an early morning start if we are to maximise our opportunities to shop for anything while there as the shops open at 9.00 to shut at 1.30pm and don’t open again until 4.30pm.
We have explored the village of Tanuf about 30 km up the road on the road to Bahla and driven the side roads around it. Tanuf is now the centre for a bottled water industry but the old mud-brick village was a centre of resistance during one of the civil wars that consumed Oman in the 1950s and, as result, was bombed by the air force.
The ruins of the old town are perched along a ridge over looking a narrow gorge that leads to a pleasant wadi crouched under the grey folds of the local mountain range.
We have also driven down to Sohar, a 600km round trip, a couple of times to visit the other ex-pat trainer, Donald. This trip takes us up to Ibri then across country and through the mountains to the coast and Sohar.
The road from Ibri to Sohar is a narrow two lane one that reminds us of some of the more remote ones at home. However, it is driven by locals who often believe that to get anywhere you need to drive at 140kph and pass any other vehicle whenever it suits even if one is approaching a blind corner and one has seen that there could be a car hitting the corner as soon as one has begun the passing manouvre. It all makes for exciting driving!!!
This last weekend we drove to Sohar for their music festival. This visit proved to be quite exciting as we headed off to explore a fortified house / castle in a tiny village called Fazah. The fort was well restored, complete with a couple of portuguese cannon sticking out of the windows on the tower to suggest a defensive capability.
The two animals were placed so they faced each other and urged to challenge each other. The first bull stood, with with its handlers beside it, pawing the ground while the second bull pulled against its handlers, reluctant to square off. After a few seconds both bulls lowered their heads and locked horns pushing against each other. As the crowd of men began cheering on their favourite bull it quickly became obvious that the friesian was matched against a far stronger animal for it began backing away while their horns were locked. The speed of the backward movement increased as the bigger bull got purchase in the sand which became a signal for the crowd to split and run to allow the bulls an escape route between the trucks and cars that bordered the ring of men.
That evening we went to a concert as part of the Sohar music festival at the Sohar Beach Hotel. This was an opportunity for the mainly ex-pat community to show their musical talents to a wider audience while enjoying the early evening breezes blowing in from the sea.
While were there one of Donald’s colleagues arrived in the company of a young Omani who invited us to a family wedding celebration. It didn’t take too much persuasion to accept the invitation so we ended up in the centre of a local village where several hundred men were sitting on mats around a sandy square filled with young men celebrating the wedding with two days of dance and music before the bride and groom would be introduced to each other.
We were pulled into the swirling mass of men who were dancing a local variation of an Arabian - Indian wedding dance accompanied by drums, bagpipes, clapping and enthusiastic shouts from the dancers.
We stood and talked to our host for a couple of hours watching the dancing and the constant swirl of men coming and going from the houses around the celebration while several youths on 50cc scooters buzzed between the talkers and watchers.