Wadi Al Helo
Nestling in the Hajar mountains, just off the E102 between Kalba and Sharjah, Wadi Al Helo is rich in natural beauty. The mountains resemble rubble piles that have been dumped long ago by giant trucks, while the boulders and rocks strewn over the dry river bed speak of flash floods that once rushed through here with a violent urgency.
Close to the road, the dead remains of a once flourishing date palm grove, is an unsettling reminder of what happens in the absence of life-giving water. While some of the tree trunks still stand proud against the dry landscape, others have succumbed to the inevitable and have toppled over – defeated.
The tinted earth and rocks conjure up images of cinnamon, hazelnuts, café au lait and bitter, dark chocolate, despite an atmosphere of hardship that blankets a landscape that, on this day, are etched against a cloudless blue sky. Watchtowers patiently wait, not for intruders, but wandering explorers, to fill the space with their voices.
Human habitation in this area reaches as far back as the Bronze Age, and the archaeological site just behind the circular watchtower that is managed by the Sharjah Directorate of Antiquities, is like a giant puzzle with its pieces scattered and buried over a large area. Neat excavations are interspersed with the remains of an old cemetery and rocks stacked to indicate where buildings once stood.
On the other side of the archaeological site a dusty footpath leads deeper into the wadi, curling around the edge of a mountain, stirring my imagination and desire to keep walking. Wadi Al Helo is a place where one can find peace, quiet and solitude.