Explorer Mikael Strandberg

The Big Waiting Game

“Just sit back and enjoy your time in Oman!”

“Everything in due time!”

“This is the Arab World, everything just takes a bit extra time!”

Muttrah harbour by night.......
Muttrah harbour by night…….

I have heard these phrases quite a few times since I arrived to the conclusion, that the Arab World would be my place to be for the upcoming years. I am an extraordinarily impatient person at times, especially when it comes to trying to get an Expedition on its feet. But, the good thing with getting older, is that you have had time to realize that one needs to learn and just follow the main stream of how things are run, otherwise you will die with a broken heart and a serious stomach ulcer on top of that! Things just take time in this part of the world and there is a reason for this.

When Sultan Qaboos took over Oman after a bloodless coup against his father, Saeed Bin Tamur, 1970, the country had no secondary schools, only two primary schools, they had only 10 km:s of paved road, they had two hospitals run by an American Mission and Oman was involved in a civil war. Today it is one of the most progressive and well-to-do countries in the world. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos have done an amazing job and have also caught up with its richer neighbors and have supplied even remote villages in this desert sultanate with electricity. The capital Muscat, where we live, is a vibrant, modern and for everyday, a fast growing hectic city. Traffic is one of the worst and most dangerous in the world. I am scared every time I venture out in the traffic. The country is growing at such a fast pace, so that the city´s infrastructure is not coping with the demand and far too many drivers are not trained to handle this growing traffic. I have been very close to getting killed several times since coming here for some utterly stupid behavior called tail piping where other drivers are a mere inch from your car no matter the speed. And, on top of that, drivers are aggressive, blaring their horn and every time they pass you they seem extremely stressed and tired. It is what city life in the West is like.

Traffic is still relatively slow in Bahla, but in MUscat, a nightmare....
Traffic is still relatively slow in Bahla, but in Muscat, a nightmare….

One just gets a feeling, that things are moving a bit too fast for the local inhabitants. One has to remember it is less than 40 years ago, when very few Omanis for example had shoes nor electricity. Amazing development! For this reason, the deeply ingrained traditions coming from their Bedouin roots are still very strong. And that is one major reason everything in this part of the world is an enormous waiting game and personal contacts and bonding is more important than any other place on earth. One person just doesn´t take a supreme decision, no matter how powerful he is, without asking other members of the group. It is Bedu democracy.

Mountain bedu of Oman.
Mountain bedu of Oman.

I have realized since I came here, that patience is more than a virtue. It is way of survival. I guess that is one reason this Expedition is meant to be, patience is very good for the survival of the human race. And that is kind of what we are doing right now, learning patience, waiting for things to happen, because in some ways things are just out of our hands. It is up to others to take a decision. Either good, like a go ahead or not at all, buddy. It is not that we don´t have anything to do. On the contrary. We could work day and night and still only cover 10% of what we have to do. For example, there´s the issue of all the other countries on route, where we need permits, contacts, visas and on top of that we have to find good camels, and they are dead expensive here, some racing camels cost 1 million dollars…..per camel! And precious time just have a habit off running away….soon we have to go through the heavy labor of renewing a visa to this spectacular country…not easy, but possible.

But, in the meantime we have set up an interesting day to day life. We work in front of the computer most of the time in our apartment when not meeting friends, making new faschinating contacts like royals, ambassadors and Bedouins or buying food at all these gigantic supermarkets, but we are trying to find more local and far more interesting shops…we walk a couple of hours a day at high speed, try to find the Arab soul in all this and enjoy the weather. Most of all, we are waiting for things to happen…

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