During my time in Oman, I would often take route 11 from my home in Rustaq to the town of Barka where there was a large supermarket and a licensed alcohol store, where I would gleefully spend the 30 O.R of booze that my license allowed me each month. The drive between the two towns is spectacular. It winds through the mountains and Wadis before dragging out onto dusty desert plains. Almost exactly at the point where the mountains dissipated into the desert was a secluded turning that snaked back into the mountains and disappeared quickly from view
The turning always fascinated me. It was so secretive and the tarmac disappeared into the mountains so quickly that it had a wonderful air of mystery about it. During my 6 months living in Rustaq, I always vowed that one day I would take the turning in order to truly discover where it went. However, for some reason, I never seemed to have the time to explore. Therefore, when I decided to leave Oman, I pledged that I would delve into the unknown at least once. So, just a couple of days before my flight home, I took a drive along route 11 and decided to take the mysterious left turn.
My journey proved to be massively worthwhile. Route 11 is wide and well paved. However, the turning was narrow, windy and just a little treacherous. It first took me over a couple of small bumps before moving down towards the dry river bed of a Wadi. As I neared the Wadi, the road narrowed almost to a single track and plunged into a deep bank of palm trees The vegetation was unbelievably dense and the palm trees drooped so low that they lapped onto the rook and wind-shield of my car. It was a bizarre sensation. The trees were so encompassing that it was almost as dark as night as I passed through.
After just under a kilometre of wading through the shade, I burst out into waves of light and onto the Wadi bottom. The wadi was unbelievably wide. It seemed to stretch well over a kilometre in width. Even in its arid state, it bore a certain majesty, rather like the Hudson in up-state New York or the Mississippi in full flow. It twisted and swept between several small mountains, the cliffs of which seemed to drop vertically onto the river bed with the grey stones that made up the bed lapping against their bottoms, The grey stones reflected the sun to stunning effect. It felt almost like the sun twinkling on the the surface of a real river. It was so bright in fact that I had to pull over to put on my shades.
The turning had been tempting me for months before I eventually took the plunge. I was massively gald that I did.