Misfat al-Abryeen


Misfat al AbryeenWe woke hungry and early – long before dawn. After dressing, we trekked across the plaza in the dark to the administration building and our dining room. We were only the second group there. Our guide, presumably, was still in bed, probably well worn after a day of driving up the wadi and entertaining us with banter and information.

Dawn fell warmly in the jagged peaks and it promised to be a much nicer morning than the evening was before. Our guide eventually knocked on our door and off we drove, down the mountain again to a village near Al Hamra. The ancient village of Misfat al-Abryeen was a collection of old mud-brick houses set on a hillside. Most houses had been left abandoned after the government had build much nicer new homes for the residents across a lush gorge.

We parked along a road at the top of a hill and hiked down through the winding village streets to our destination, a preserved 400-year-old mud-brick house. There an older man and woman demonstrated the old ways of doing things – how to make traditional bread, how to grind flour, make perfume, and how to use incense under the skirt and underarms as deodorizers without catching one’s clothing on fire.

In one room we were able to try on traditional clothes. With assistance, we were transformed into Omanis. Tom looks really good in his wazar and I enjoyed the brief experience in my clothes, but it was really, really hot inside all that fabric. We were photographed by our assistant then joined our guide in a living room where we were served coffee.

Tom Grind Coffee

The man there had actually roasted our coffee first. We sat around the edges of the room and ate dates, talked and enjoyed the strong coffee. On the walls were a few photos of HM Sultan Qaboos and his family, including one of my favorites, which I had seen elsewhere. It is the Sultan with his father, also the Sultan, when he was about three years old.  I like to call this my pictures of His Baby Majesty.

Reluctantly we left. Along the way, on our drive up to the village we had met an italian couple and their son. We ran into them again and they joined us on our hike down through lush vegetation, across a little canyon and up the other side and eventually back to our SUV. Actually, the men continued on to pick up the cars – ladies and son rested and waited after we had climbed out of the canyon. My new knee had done about all it needed to do that day, I felt.

We said goodbye to our new friends – we would be seeing them again here and there, as our paths were scheduled to cross again. The drive back up the mountain to Jabel Shams was uneventful. Since the weather was milder, we again stopped at the edge of the Grand Canyon and took pictures. Directly across from us was a family selling various items they had made. I bought a rug and several items – one from each of four girls. They shyly refused to be photographed, but we got a few pictures of them in the distance when they were leaping in the rocks like young goats.

After dinner we went right to bed. In order to get to Nizwa for the cattle auctions, we would have to eat and leave extra early.



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M.A., Middle Eastern and North African Studies. Wanderer. Author, "When Freedom Called: at the front and home front in the Gulf War", 2011.

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