Shaquel al Balushi survives his first encounter with a snake, and isn’t ashamed to say he ran like the wind.
As many of you know, I’m an adventurist: I revel in tough situations and take pride in setting higher targets for myself when it comes to scouring locations around my home country.
I came across one such instance, last Wednesday, when I read online – on Accuweather – that there was a possibility of scattered rains across the outskirts of Oman. It was time to break out my trusty Jeep, then.
You see, I’m no stranger to rain but no one is foolish enough to simply give up on the opportunity of getting wet in the middle of summer; it was fascinating and I just wanted to stand in the rain like I did when I was a teenager.
Soon, I drew up a plan: I called up my friends Imran, and two Sarahs (one from the UK and the other from South Africa), and decided to chase the dark, voluminous clouds.
I felt like a daredevil; more like the (late) storm chaser Tim Samaras, even – of course, without the tragic ending.
In any case, we started our journey in the wee, small hours of the morning – 3.30am to be precise. The sun was still down, and we were hoping that we could hit the highway to Nizwa – where the rain was predicted – by 5am, at the very least.
Our chase for the clouds, however, diverted us to Wadi Qurai, a location that I had visited only a few months ago. There was no rain, but we still took the opportunity to explore the area.
Not much has changed there, and I decided that it was best that we kept chasing the clouds until we struck… err… drops of water.
But, just as we were packing up, we came across a terrifying sight: a snake.
Yes, it may only have been a wadi snake but some of them are known to be deadly poisonous. Ironically, this was also the first snake that I had seen in my entire life despite spending hours in wadis such as these.
I completely froze for a second, before making a sprint for my dear life. There’s nothing valiant about being protective of your life, I tell you.
We then continued on our pursuit. It took us farther into the heart of Nizwa, and away from the highway; soon we were off the roads completely!
We reached an area called ‘Kumma’: a mountainous area with patches of greenery. I found the place fascinating, as Kumma in Arabic translates to the traditional ‘hat’.
Kumma posed to be quite a formidable location, though. But, it is a haven for off-road enthusiasts like me.
It was a test of my Jeep, and even the ladies were enjoying all the slithering about. After all, you do not get to go gaga in the mountains in an SUV, every day.
Even I was enjoying my experience, there. Do take heed that if you are planning a trip to Kumma, you must have an off-road ready SUV complete with a lift-kit, heavy-duty suspension and a roll-cage.
Trust me: you do not want to find out that you’re not prepared for exploring this area in your SUV the hard way.
Much to our dismay, however, all the clouds had started dissipating, leaving a clear and calm sky.
This was it for our storm chasing, then.
So, we decided to camp at Kumma and relax for a bit. It was there that I actually got to explore and shoot some photos for the magazine.
I noticed that the mountains had stream marks on them, meaning it had rained there at some point, earlier.
Sadly, we weren’t there to experience the soothing drops of rain; but we still cherished our time at Kumma.
We ended up sitting there and talking among ourselves for hours – making the most of our time on our weekend.
But, today, as I look back at my time there, I realise that these aren’t just ordinary days – these are the days of our lives; ones that we will always value.
From Muscat, take the highway to Seeb and exit at the road that leads to Nizwa. Follow the road for about 100 kilometres, and take a right towards the village of Kumma. The location is duly signposted.