That is the one word I would assign to all we saw today. Handsome and beautiful. The soldiers and staff, the magnificent Arabians and thoroughbreds, and the grounds of the Royal Cavalry of the Sultanate of Oman. By request, I will not post pictures here, keeping them only for private enjoyment, but the stable felt serene and would have fit harmoniously in the southwest. This was without a doubt the high point of our visit.
We were picked up at 9:30 by one of the general’s drivers in a Cavalry sedan. During the long trip across town to the seaside village of Seeb, we listened to soothing classical music on BBC. Turning off the highway at the Seeb exit, we drove along the wall of the compound to a guarded gate. Guards questioned our driver briefly and let us pass. We parked by a rose-sand colored, flat-topped building edged by pink flowering bushes. When I asked to take pictures, we were told he had to ask his Boss. Who is that? General Abdi.
The General was still in his meeting, so we were entertained awhile by his director of administrative things, served hawala, the Omani sweet made from brown sugar, and offered coffee by an Indian civilian in white shirt and pants. He stood quietly at attention when not serving – very interesting. After awhile, we were passed off to another soldier who drove us to the stable area where we met their currently-racing stock, both thoroughbreds and Arabians. Their trainer and a jockey described each mount’s achievements. Did I mention handsome? Omanis, without any doubt, won the gene-pool lottery.
After caressing, patting, and scratching an impressive collection of beautiful horses, including an 28-year-old welch pony, who had earned its way into this impressive company through years of loyal service, we visited a small but interesting museum. It was filled with gifts given to the Sultan by various governments. There were ornate saddles and other tack, and also a poster of Omani Army ranks. I have been trying to find this information and hadn’t been able to do so. I wish I could have taken a picture.
Eventually, we received a call that General Abdi had finished his meeting and would like us to return to his office. We came, shook hands, and were guided into his office. I immediately wanted to laugh – every surface was covered with horse statues that were probably gifts from everyone who had visited down through the years. Just as we did, they had searched for “just the right gift for the General.” I bet he would be delighted to receive a camel one day. Ah, no! Not a camel. We learned last night that he hates camels. (I am sure there is a good story behind that.) But at least, a present that was different and unique!
A woman was also in the room with us. She sat next to the General and was introduced as his sergeant. I recognized her from one of the DVDs about the Cavalry – she had sweetly helped one of the female riders mount her horse. I had assumed she was a mother or sister, but she is actually in charge of all the female riders. I wondered, too, if she might be with us as a sort of chaperone, so I wouldn’t be one woman alone with a group of men. I have so many questions all of the time about what happens around me! And I can’t ask them all – I wouldn’t be invited back!
After our meeting, we took a few pictures – the General looking impeccably neat. Seeing him today as the military man was so very special – he clearly is adored by his staff. How blessed we are to have met him. God is so very good.