A desert passageway flanked by rough calcified mountains only interrupted by scarce villages, palm colonies, and lesser towns led me from the most Western part of the Sultanate of Oman to the city of Ibri, from where I hunted the abandoned archaeological sites of Bat, Al-Khutm, and Al-Ayn.
Following the plain discovery, I dug my way out of A’ Dhahira govern-orate to Bahla, a magnificent town with an adobe fortress that successfully abandoned the UNESCO list of endangered sites in 2004 after a commendable fourteen years and nine million dollars restoration process undertaken by the Sultanate. However, to my uttermost disappointment, public opening is apparently restricted to Fridays and Saturdays, few morning and afternoon hours.
Calling to my mind Sir Wilfred Thesiger‘s near-spiritual contentment, I hardly sped my Lancer towards Nizwa, with the desire to uncover an ancient engineering wonder: the two-thousand years old Afalaj irrigation system. Beneath a hard-biting sun I promenaded along the Falaj Daris, dipping my feet into a crystal clear water stream that chilled my condition and thoughts.
Upon restoration of my vital signs I proceeded to abandon the city and the A’ Dakhliyah govern-orate, although a last-minute bastioned surprise kept me wandering through the “Pearl of Islam” and its remarkable (Nizwa) Fort. The fortification was commissioned in mid xvii century by the Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya’rubi. From the top of its 36 metre diametre drum-like tower I could gaze around and admire the souq, the So’al Mosque, and the Jabal al Akhadar or “Green Mountain,” described by Mubarak Bin London as his hideout during the 1948 journey. The Imam allowed him harmlessly to continue the trip, but not to reach any close to the town and its splendid fortress. This time, Mubarak Bin Basel beat him to the punch!