“Wadi Koob” the sign reads. “I wonder what is there”, I muse. It is not often that these signs guide one to the actual place it so proudly announces. Silence follows my remark as we drive along a familiar road. Each one of us trapped in our own thoughts as we gaze out the window at the passing landscape. As we approached another sign, this time with a variant spelling, for “Wadi Kub”, Michael flicks the indicator on with the words, “let’s find out”.
The word wadi conjures up exotic images of natural treasures to be found, but it actually simply means valley. The wadis here range from exciting spaces nestling amongst craggy mountains with abandoned, crumbling stone houses to the mundane: modern houses squatting in a flat, and otherwise empty landscape. In this wadi the last signpost simply point to a huddle of modern houses. We turn off and keep on driving; hoping that the road will deposit us in a magical place on the other side of modern life.
Eventually the road curves around a rocky outcrop and all signs of life disappear. “Left or right?” Michael asks as the road forks. “Left”, I say, but the car ambles on towards the right, on a road that appears to be well-travelled. We approach a farm and turn around. Back at the fork, we take the road slightly less travelled. Approaching a lone tree, I ask Michael to stop in the shade so that I can hop out and take a short walk.
I love walking. Life slows down when one travels on foot. In a car, no matter how slow one drives, the environment flits past before one can notice the finer details. I take a big gulp of lukewarm morning air as I open the door to escape the air-conditioned coolness. I turn away from the car and head around the corner along the rocky road. To my left the road curves to where another farm hides, but to the right I notice a goat path leading deeper into the mountains. Naturally I am drawn to this, so I follow it in a burst of exploration.
“This will make for an interesting hike”, I muse, moments before realising that I have disappeared from view, and if Michael decided to drive on, he won’t be able to see me. Reluctantly I turn around. As I do so, I hear the engine droning past. I can just hear him think, “Where did she go? I take my eyes off her for a moment and she vanishes!” I hurry back towards the road, waving and calling as he starts to disappear in the direction of the farm.
“May we please come back here one day?” I plead, slightly out of breath. “You can sit in the shade and read, and I can see where the goat path leads. . .” I love walking in wild places. It makes me feel close to nature and God. It takes me away from people and noise; away from social niceties, and deposits me in a space where my soul can breathe. “Yes, we can”, Michael replies, and my heart sings. Sadly though summer is approaching fast, and it may not happen any time soon.
*** Sign posts for Wadi Kub can be found on the road between Ras-al-Khaimah and Dibba