Monday, 31 August 2009

A weekend outing

A word of advice, make sure you've shaved your legs before you get stung by a hornet or better still, don't get stung by a hornet. I know this from personal experience. Kind people want to see said sting and help you out with ice and anti histamines. Not nearly so embarrassing when your legs are smooth. Hornet stings really sting and go on stinging. Over 24 hours later and it's still stinging, stiff, swollen and bruised for a large area around the sting. Looks quite impressive really.

I got stung while walking through Khutwah Oasis, an extensive and lush oasis with an interesting and rich history. I took Nina, Martin, Phil, George and Raukura on their first Emirates Natural History Group walk, or rather I was a passenger in Nina and Martins 4wd. We ventured into Buraimi and gate crashed the air conditioning in the hotel to wait for the others. It was a little hot out at 3pm. The convoy gathered and we drove into the late afternoon through the sun burnt barrenness broken by the occasional oasis.

The view from the hill descending into Khutwah Oasis was breathtaking and unfortunately not able to be photographed without causing an accident in the convoy. The barren surrounds erupted into greenery with the forbidding Omani hills as a backdrop. The date trees formed a curtain over other useful plants, tropical green and lush.

We walked though the oasis with the usual knowledgeable commentary from Brigitte and Brian, without which we would have missed the key features of the place. We would most certainly have missed the grave sites, possibly trampled unknowingly over them, and the hand printed clay. The history goes back further than I can imagine.

The biodiversity of the Khutwah Oasis is amazing with the tall palms shading the lush herbs and flower stocks growing in a green carpet underneath. Use is made of all parts of this area of green in the wider barren planes of the area. As we walked through I saw some familiar sights, although it took me some time to click that the concrete steps on the other side of the wadi were the very ones that we had climbed some weeks before. Yes, we were on the other side of that oasis.

We wandered down into a section of the wadi where there was a pool so the kids to have a paddle. Of course the adults got in as well. Nina was up to her thighs when someone pointed out the water scorpion and the other bugs in the water. I didn't care, I was trying to cool the recent sting. Surely lightening wouldn't strike twice.

We wandered back to the car, drank as much water as we could find, still not quite enough, and started the journey home discussing what we'd seen. Walking makes you hungry and in Ramadan we are not supposed to eat and drink in public. Iftar had passed, the fast had ended so we also discussed food and how hard it must be to fast from sunrise to sunset. Not sure that I could manage that.

I always find the ENHG trips refreshing and enlightening, I'm really pleased my friends are also keen to come along. We are all card carrying members now so are looking forward to the weekend outings, next week another moon walk. Maybe we can convince Mary-Anne to join us too.

The photos show the biodiversity of the oasis, Nina and the girls and the herb beds with the workers coming in from weeding and harvesting.

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