Al-Hamra to Wadi Bani Awf and back to NizwaFriday, 11 February 2005
‘A day that begins with goat’s testicles in your hand can’t be bad,’ surmised Tad.
We’d started the day with a visit to the Nizwa souq where, in the goat souq, a steady procession of goats circle between an inner and outer ring of potential purchasers. When a buyer expresses interest in a particular goat the seller drags it over and the animal is assessed, the legs are felt, fingers are run through the hair and, for billy goats, the buyer extends a hand beneath the animal and gives its balls a good squeeze.
From Al-Hamra we made the long climb into the Hajar Mountains, the rough road peaking out at around 2100 metres before we hairpinned down the other side to the beautifully hidden village of Balad Seet and then down through the stunning Wadi Bani Awf and finally back on to smooth road.
The trip back to Nizwa highlighted some of the problems of Omani travel. Maps don’t indicate the road quality… what we thought would be a smooth highway soon became as winding and rugged as the route we’d just traversed. Plus there are plenty of road signs but the vast majority of them point to tiny villages that do not appear on the map. When you come to a tricky junction (and there were plenty of those) there’s never any indication which way leads to Nizwa. Fortunately the Omanis are very happy to give directions.
The day started with the Omani souq, continued with Omani roads, paused for a truly awful Omani dinner (lunch was Pakistani/Indian and excellent) and concluded with our hotel’s Omani Arabian nightclub. Lebanese? Egyptian? we pondered as we watched the female trio sway listlessly and sing half heartedly.
The bartender solved the mystery: ‘Ukrainian.’