Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Camels, goats, farms, forts and Socceroos

Wow  what a weekend we had a week ago now.  Thankfully it was announced a couple of days ago that this weekend is a long one - four days, yay we can relax!

Last Wednesday night we went to our Arabic lessons and then set out for the wilds of the interior - in this case a village called Adam, around 230 kilometers from Muscat.  So after stopping for dinner, a map and well a GPS (hey going out of town gave gadget guy an opportunity) a couple of very tired people arrived an Adam, to be met by Sultan (who you may remember as the guy that shepherded us through our first days here).

Adam is his home town and on the weekends he lives in a house across the road from his parents and sister (one of many siblings) with his wife, son and youngest brother.  The house is quite large and we were escorted upstairs to the guest room where we quickly unpacked and after saying the obligatory greetings collapsed into bed and sleep.

Sultan's house has two front doors one for men and the other for women.  The men's door opens directly into a rather large Majlis - that's entertainment room to you.  The walls are fully lined with sofa's and they have one of the biggest flat screen tv's on offer.  The women's room is off to the side of the entrance and is a bit smaller (a fraction of the size) and has a smaller tv and lacks the gigantic sofa.

Over the weekend I met the male half of Sultan's family and Katrina met some of the male side and the women.

Katrina inspecting the waters
Anyway on Thursday the three of us set out for a tour of Adam. It is a farming village, village being a misnomer really, but there are date farms everywhere. A large part of the reason for this is the long established Fallaj - or aqueduct system.  The system is fed from acquifers and has been in use in one form or another for around 4000 years I am told.

On our journey through Adam we stopped at the clock that controls the Fallaj.  Well sundial really, the day is broken up into half hour blocks and each farm is allocated a watering time, which lasts for 2 hours. As the sun approaches the correct mark a little man jumps on his bicycle and pedals off to start the water flowing. He knows when to leave because the men stand around discussing just where to put the palm strand so that he can get to the farm at the same time as the sundial says go.

Fallaj control system
Funnily enough the men standing around the sundial were related to Sultan.  So after a bit of a chat we all went back to their place for Omani coffee, fresh season dates and fruit.  Then after that it was lunch and funnily enough yet more fresh dates.  It's the beginning of the season and the dates are rather nice.
Harvesting dates, about 20metres up

Sultan's family owns 4 farms and I got to go to two of them.  Katrina unfortunately gave up the ghost with a continuation of a bug that laid her low the week before.

One of the sights of Adam is the walled village that the current Sultan of Oman's grandfather was born in.  It is an impressive sight rising out of the surrounding date palms. Unfortunately it is showing severe signs of wear, but is under repair by the Heritage department and will I presume be open to the public when finished. It will be well worth the visit then, but as it was under renovation and the signs said no entry..........

I also went to the mosque that built itself - but you can read about that in a separate post.

And then we collected Katrina and headed out to the largest of the family farms. At which time Katrina saw her first wild camels.  I had seen another couple walking down the street earlier in the day when Katrina was collapsing.

Makes roos seem like less of a road hazard
The farm was interesting it had a bit of everything - more dates, goats, sheep, cattle, bees....  Katrina really likes Omani honey.  But boy is honey expensive in this part of the world.
Katrina and farm friends

Anyway after that we had the obligatory night view of Adam from a nearby hillside.  And then dinner and a grateful collapse into bed.

Only to get up at 6 so we could be on the road to Nizwa by 7 for the goat and cattle market.  That was great, bustling, noisy, colourful and well busy.  The grins on peoples faces as they left with their purchases was just great.  From the goat market we headed off into the souk, where Katrina bought a traditional woven basket, the obligatory camel (our collection is building now!) and some local Halwa.

Nizwa goat market
And then somehow or another we ended up at the entrance to Nizwa Fort, which was the centre of government a couple of centuries ago.  Don't know why they insist on calling them forts, somehow castle seems more appropriate.  So we went on in and spent some time roaming around checking out the exhibits. Cannon to the left of us, cannon to the right,  lots of stairs to climb and things to see.

Katrina was not happy going up and down the stairs to the central keep, because they'd removed the wooden coverings over the numerous pitfalls and replaced them with perspex covers and underfloor lighting. I was none too concerned and thought the soundtracks with splintering noises loud crashing and so on was just great.

Nizwa from atop the fort
And then it was time to leave the fort and head for home.  I had work to do and still the Socceroos match to go.  And yes Brooke we did wear the hats and scarfs.  We waved the little flags and I tied the big flag to the side of the big stadium stand.  I was told by one of the locals that the flag got some air time on the telecast!

Sadly the Socceroos couldn't get the business done, but then fortunately neither could the Omani's. A nil all score was the result and probably fair.  At kick off it was around 41 degrees and by games end still in the high thirties.  Not so bad for us in the stands, but playing international soccer?

 And just because you didn't ask the GPS has maps for the entire Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Egypt and Morocco.  


  1. I bet the dates taste great fresh from the tree!

  2. Love the water sharing technology. So much more civilized than water sharing in the Murray Darling Basin in Australia.