Our final day was spent entirely at leisure, giving us ample time to wander the grounds of the hotel taking photos – it really is very nicely arranged.
Then, with a cry of “Ready, Chedi, Go” ((c) the distaff side) it was time to pack, take a final contemplative gin and ponder on the last few days. At this point, let me remind you about that Times article about the country and its Sultan.
I think the keys to what we saw in our ten days in Oman, and particularly our time under canvas, are: Planning; Preparation; and Persistence.
Despite my carping about camping, the team at Hud Hud Travels did a simply outstanding job of making it appear easy to offer top service whilst operating under difficult situations, such as having a kitchen up a mountain or in the desert, for God’s sake!
Above: Lakshan in his desert kitchen.
Above: Chanaka and Patrick in the service area of their desert tent.
Patrick and Devon managed the camps superbly and I still find it awesome that all that stuff was set up and run specifically and only for the two of us – planning and preparation of the highest quality.
Add to this the enthusiasm, energy and expertise of Rashid, and the result was that Jane and I were able to experience aspects of Oman that were simply not available any other way. The luxurious comfort of our stay at the Chedi was hugely relaxing and enjoyable, but also felt starkly at odds with the realities of life we’d seen in the previous days.
I still have strong reservations about camping, but I also admit that my experience would have been less trying with better planning and preparation on my part. Remembering to take my walking boots would have helped, for example, as would a more suitable choice of night attire and other footwear.
But the award for most admirable planning, preparation and particularly persistence has to go to the people of Oman who live in the desert and the mountains. For them, there is no electricity; water quite possibly arrives only once a week on the back of a 4×4 truck; food may well be shared between those who have and those who have not. Theirs is a tough, tough life, unimaginable to a soft westerner such as myself, perched precariously on a higher level of the Maslow pyramid; and yet they live it with patience and determination and they live it well. It was remarkable to see the effusiveness, humour and mutual respect in their interactions as we experienced the different environments. For these people, planning and preparation is not just for comfort, it’s a matter of life and death; and their persistence in making it work is at once admirable and bemusing.
I now return to a life with all mod cons and creature comforts, and I do so gladly, for I have been habituated to such a life and can’t easily cope with any other. But at least I do so with my eyes opened wider and my horizons broadened further, thanks to the efforts of all of the people who have made the last ten days truly memorable.