Friday, September 17
11:30 AM

DESERT BOUND

6 Dec 2020 By HUBERT VAZ

When they were up, they were up 

When they were down, they were down

Anisa al Raisi and Natalie Taylor continue the YallaGo expedition into its third week

This week, the YallaGo adventure, undertaken by Anisa al Raisi and Dr Natalie Taylor, her UK companion, is underway in full steam, quite literally as the two young girls have been walking 25-30km under steaming hot temperatures in the interior of the sultanate.

After tiresome canoeing near Musandam during the first week and exhausting climbing mountains in Buraimi during the second, the third week, however, involves a lot of ‘flat walking’ which is less tedious, but also less interesting.

“We have crossed from mountains to plateau to small sand dunes and the sinking sand awaits! The local people continue to show true Omani hospitality. We have sampled fresh camel milk, and everyone we pass stops to asks what we are doing,” the duo informs as they move towards the mid section of their 50-day expedition, expected to culminate in the first week of January 2021.

Alongside an ambassador 

“As we move in to the desert, our Landrover support cars are invaluable keeping us safe and tackling the terrain with ease,” Natalie said, disclosing that the Ambassador of Pakistan, H E K K Ahsan Wagan, visited them last week and treated them to a ‘taste of Pakistan’ on Friday evening and a delicious breakfast on Saturday.

H E Wagan himself has a deep interest in trekking and mountaineering and has successfully climbed/trekked to several peaks including Mt Everest (Himalayas), K-2 (the second highest peak in the world, near Pakistan), Mont Blanc (Western Europe), Mount Whitney (US) and Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa). He encouraged the girls and also pepped up their spirit by walking a short stretch with them.

“Walking an average of 30km a day is proving sustainable with such wonderful hospitality and wonderful support we are receiving. The highlight for me, this week, was seeing all the different animal tracks in the sand dunes. Lets hope we don’t see any actual snakes!,” Natalie added

Muttar pulao, aloo paratha

Speaking to Muscat Daily amid her mid-day trek yesterday, Anisa said, “Yesterday we had the pleasure and honour of the Pakistani ambassador walk with us. The Embassy of Pakistan and Mohammed Riaz, a prominent Pakistani resident, have taken up the responsibility of providing us food all through the expedition.

“They provided us with some delicious meals yesterday, prepared by the ambassdor’s chef, which included some haleem, muttar pulao, aloo paratha, aloo baaji which reminded me of home and I had the fun of explaining to Natalie what exactly the meals were.

“The ambassador walked with us. It was a very tough day, we were walking through oil rigs, and the heat was not just from the sun but also from the location, the ground, and the machines. So, it was an arduous 25km but the ambassador did it like a pro and motivated us with words of encouragement. It was also a very strong reminder for me, about why I am doing this expedition – for my people, for my country, as an inspiration for ow forward we have come as a nation, and to celebrate each day, keeping in mind the vision for 2040 and what the youth need to achieve. I hope this expedition serves as an inspiration to everyone in Oman to take on some responsibility as we move forward as a nation. What I have done is just an example of what one can do.”

 

Presents and pleasantries

Anisa further informed that as they finish off with the plains and move toward the Empty Quarter, she was looking forward to showing Natalie the true bedouin hospitality. “I have got her some presents – a mussar – so I will be showing her how to tie that for protection from the Sun and the sand. How we can use the Omani kohl (a black powder – antimony suphide, used to darken the edges of eyelids) to protect the eyes from the Sun, how to use miswak (a teeth cleaning twig), and how to make bedouin bread – all this will  be part of our experience in the Empty Quarter,” she disclo

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