The higher you go, the cooler it will get. I take off above the ruins of Tanuf. A village that was bombed by the British army during the Al Hajar war between the Imam of Oman from Nizwa and the Sultan of Oman from Muscat, the British SAS taking side along the Sultan. The trail is in good shape all along the climb and offers splendid views on the valley and the Saiq plateau near by. I know from my Garmin that this trail is a dead end deserving several tiny mountain villages along the way, and stopping a little before reaching the abandoned Qiyut. As I pass settlement after settlement, kids playing outside waive at me. Yet it’s unusual for them to see a “foreigner” going up the mountain this late during the day. I’m not on a “touristic” side of the route. I doubt very much tour guides come around this way with their groups. As a matter of fact I know they don’t.
Right before the old Qiyut stands a freshly build housing complex of about 20 identical white houses aligned in two rows facing each other. It is not unusual at all. I have seen this many times before, and it makes me wander if the government isn’t trying to get villagers out of their old houses for the “benefits” of modern accommodations. All through Oman you see them build exactly the same way. There is an architecture blueprint for schools, for police stations, and for basic public housing. Is it good, is it bad ? I’m too individualistic to enjoy cost effective uniformity but I see the point.
A bit below, after a rough, unused and non maintained stretch of trail, stands the old village, now completely empty. Better location, better view… and a lot more authentic ! This will be a perfect night location for me. I walk around just to see if no one still lives here – A rebellious mind like me ? Refusing to leave his or her home for the sake of fake comfort. Holding on to his or her traditional way of life… – No, it’s definitely empty. They all left. Did they had a choice ? Or am I the only fool thinking this lifestyle is the better way ?
I venture inside some houses, and for a moment contemplate the idea of sleeping inside one of them. But I’m too chicken and instead prepare my car for my usual setting, before the light comes out for the day.