So let’s see. Interesting thing that have happened to me last week:
I got stuck in a wadi (canyon/sometimes-dry-riverbed-thing) with my host brother Hamed and sister Nada. (If you’ve been to Oman, you’ve been stuck in a wadi or a sand dune. If not, you’re doing it wrong.) We were picnicking on some delicious Yemeni mandi (you’ve GOT to try this stuff, the tenderest meat I have ever tasted, and so exquisitely spiced!), checking out ancient ruins and aflaj (complex underground irrigation canals thousands of years old that still operate, providing water throughout the Omani interior) in the interior city of Fenge (Omanis pronounce the Arabic letter “jeem” like a ‘g’ instead of a ‘j’), where Nada and Hamed’s sister Nawraz and her husband Mohammed live. Within 90 seconds of our car being unsalvagably stuck at a very remote bend in the wadi, a fleet of SEVEN Jeep Cherokees appeared out of nowhere, sped towards us and wrenched our huge GMC Yukon from the gravelly suction of the riverbed. I think someone must have seen us from up above and alerted them…I’m still not sure how they knew we were there. It was literally awe-inspiring.
The culture of helping others for no reason at all, immediately (fower-an), with no expectation of payment or reciprocation of any kind, is VERY, unusually, distinctively strong in Omani culture – and this was a perfect example. The only negative thing about the outing was that Nada and Hamed insisted we leave all our trash (plastic containers, bags, tin foil etc.) in the wadi, because “that’s what you do” and “there’s no problem.” This had me smarting, obviously, to willingly pollute such a stunning edifice of natural beauty. However I was restricted both by my Arabic influency and my position as a guest from making too much of a stink about it. Hmph. All my “Leave No Trace” education from Dartmouth Outing Club Trips was righteously stinging at that moment, I assure you.