A day of unfortunate events on a trip to Wadi Shab turns out to be a life less lesson for Shaquel al Balushi.
There are some days, which from the outset, you just know aren’t going to go your way. I had that feeling when I set out to do this week’s Destination to Wadi Shab, one of the most popular outdoor attractions for expats and locals in the country, which I had passed many times but had never visited.
Even before I set off, I had a sense that all was not right. For a start, my usual Destination buddy, Imran, couldn’t come due to work commitments so I was travelling solo this time.
I would be driving my trusty, light-blue Toyota Camry car, which I call my “Warrior”. That car can go anywhere and do anything. It has been to places that most saloon cars shouldn’t be able to tackle but my “Warrior” can face any challenge and win.
Leaving my home in Amerat at 7am on a recent Thursday, I made good progress on the Route 17 Sur road but still this feeling of uneasiness wouldn’t leave me. Then, disaster struck. Past Quriyat, I got a flat tyre. It wasn’t a big deal; I’ve changed tyres countless times. Until, that is, I realised that I didn’t have the handle to wind the jack up. All I could do was stand by the road waiting for someone to come. At this time of the day, there wasn’t much traffic and I had to wait a good 15 minutes in the humidity waiting for a car. Eventually, my saviour appeared in the form of a young Omani guy in a white Camry (he must have wanted to help out a fellow Camry owner) who produced a jack handle so I could put on the spare tyre.
By then, I was soaking wet from the humidity and the sense of something bad happening was still clinging round me like a blanket. I pushed on, nonetheless, and reached Wadi Shab without further mishap. I spotted a group of the boatmen, who take visitors across the main stretch of water and into the wadi, and spent a few minutes chatting to them about their work and lives.
Usually, I’m quite animated but in the back of my mind, I knew that my mood was off. I couldn’t get the creative juices flowing. While the wadi was impressive with greenery, water and high cliff faces towering over me, it all seemed the same and, after taking a few photographs, I was stuck for inspiration.
I needed something out of the ordinary and unexpected. And I found it. On the columns of the bridge at the start of the wadi, I found some amazing graffiti art. I recognised two of the works by a very talented, well-known Omani who uses the tag (his personal signature) of “Chndy”, a variation of his surname, Kindy. An artist, photographer, videographer, filmmaker and YouTuber, he is part of a creative group from around the region whose members produce innovative work. And here, on a concrete column in Wadi Shab, were apparently two of his graffiti works. My favourite was the Arab man with an Omani fort for his head and the Sultanate’s flag flying on top, symbolising our country. His beard, lips and eyes represented the diverse ethnic groups who call Oman home, or at least that’s how I saw it.
It was a real find and injected some colour into my Wadi Shab experience. Before I left, I also managed to snap a nice photo of an old mudbrick hut built into a rock, and the resulting image was one of my favourites from the day.
It was time to head home but I decided to get my flat tyre fixed first and found a local shop. A few metres down the road after leaving, I could feel there was something wrong with my brakes, which were making a rattling noise when I pressed down.
A nearby garage discovered that one of the bolts on the brakes was extremely loose. I couldn’t help but imagine what might have happened if I had been travelling at speed down a highway when the bolt broke loose. I wondered if this was the cause of the feeling I’d had all day that something bad was going to happen. This made me realise that I had been lucky to have a flat tyre because if that hadn’t happened, I might not have found the loose bolt until it was too late. I had avoided something bad. What had been negative turned into a positive.
The moral of the story is that all things happen for a reason. I felt that God had given me a refresh of my faith; that he had given me a totally different Destination to test me.
My faith became even stronger and I revisited a valuable life lesson. My next Destination has a lot to live up to!
From Muscat, take Route 17 until you see a sign for Wadi Shab. Take the turn-off and follow the signs. You will see a car park and the boats will be moored on the side ready to take you across. To see the graffiti art by “Chndy”, go to the concrete pillars before crossing the wadi and walk round the side.
GPS location of the wadi: