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Letters from the Oman Trail – Salem the Shepherd

Letters from the Oman Trail – Salem the Shepherd

As I keep contemplating the beauty of nature, a shepherd gathers his goats to guide them back to his village. He left his bed way before sunrise, grabbed some coffee, a loaf of bread, and headed up the plateau to start his work.

What a night ! At last fresh air, thanks to the rain and the altitude. In a matter of seconds, I was sound asleep. The accumulation of sleepless nights and the melody of rain drops on the roof of the car, I was gone.

As I wake the next morning, all the clouds have vanished, replaced by a crisp blue sky to open the day. All is dry as if rain had never fallen. In the distance, goats spread on the plateau, grazing. Good morning, morning !

I sit on my inflated mattress in the back of my car, looking at the horizon, lazy as I can be. This is a perfect meditation spot. The one you see on yoga products ads for city folks, where they guaranty you’ll fully reach your Prana by simply sitting there.

But real life in the mountains is actually on the other spectrum of the relaxation/meditation lalaland. It’s a life of hard work. A constant fight for survival. As I keep contemplating the beauty of nature, a shepherd gathers his goats to guide them back to his village. He left his bed way before sunrise, grabbed some coffee, a loaf of bread, and headed up the plateau to start his work. Now, what he didn’t expect to find here this morning was me. We are way off the tourist areas. On a spot where you wouldn’t expect a car to reach, particularly with all the rain fall yesterday. He spotted me from far, and off course, went out of his way to see what was going on. A car, on it’s own, standing on a rock ? A Toyota pick-up like all the locals have would be understandable, a Jeep like mine is just odd. The goats reach first but pay little attention to me. Most speed up to continue their way back home. Him, on the other end, stops and hesitates. He hasn’t seen me inside the car yet, and when he finally does, regrets how his benevolent curiosity might have disturbed me.

We try to exchange but the language barrier is keeping the conversation very simple. Yet you sense his love for his land. Those mountains he has spend all his life in and knows like the back of his hand. One by one he gives me the names of each summit, indicates the direction of a hidden pool below where I can go and wash, (I’ll never find it), tells me a story about hikers who got lost once, and how it would be best if I wanted to explore, to ask him to show me around. Nothing matters to him more than to make sure I have a good and safe time while visiting his “home”.

I thank him again and again and ask him permission to take his picture. His name is Salem. Salem the shepherd.

Simple life.

Oman Shepherd Jabal Sham
Salem
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