Anisa al Raissi and her UK companion, Dr Natalie Taylor, who embarked on a 50-day expedition across the length of Oman on 18 November, are currently moving through mountainous terrain and wadis wherein they have to rough it out and rely on each other for mental strength. Each day is spent manoeuvring rocks, supporting each other, and jotting down their experiences.
After the tough first leg of canoeing from Quoin Island off Musandam, the actual trek began last week and they are travelling in a striaght line from Musandam (in the north of Oman) to Mirbat in Dhofar (in the south of Oman). At this point, the end seems quite far away – 38 days away – and though they have both been conditioned in the past to take up extreme challenges, the mental strength thatthey have gathered is through the sisterly bond that they have forged to keep going against all odds.
The trek, intended to mark the 50th National Day and commemorate the Renaissance, also serves to pay homage to the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said and salute His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik al Said. The underlying message for people in Oman and UK is to build up a conviction of overcoming adversity, in view of the current pandemic.
Natalie told Muscat Daily yesterday, “Last week we have been hiking through the beautiful northern mountains. Last 48 hours saw us hike 30km over three mountain ranges and we had to sleep in a wadi after being unable to find a way over the final mountain in the dark. All was ok as we had all the saftey equipment needed, and each other. We lit a fire and huddled down using grass as a mattress on the floor, and after supper of dried meat and tinned pineapples, settled down for some rest.
“The night sky was beautiful and the moon almost full, shining brightly over us. Next day, we woke up and had to climb four different wadis to eventually find a descent in to the village Massa.”
Natalie asserted that team work and supporting each other through highs and lows is what has helped them to keep going. “I’m a mountain leader in the British Army and guide people in the UK, so it was good to use the skills I have learnt in the UK out here in Oman. The sedimentary rocks we crossed are really loose at times, like in the UK, so I could use the skills learnt to choose the safest path possible,” she said, adding that she entered a wrong GPS coordinate and they strayed into an unintended peak. However, Anisaunderstood that it was an error and they worked together to get out of it. “In the mountains, it is important to communicate well with your team and work together,” she said.
Natalie further said that she was really looking forward to the desert. So far, they have been welcomed by many friendly people over the last 11 days and, she admits, that she was blown away by the kindness of Omanis. As of now, they are enjoying early nights to get as much rest as possible to keep themselves fresh for five more weeks ahead, she said.