Monday, June 26, 2017

Getting Lost in Old Izki, Then Having My Purse Stolen in Souq Seeb: an exciting way to round off Ramadan

One of the places I had always wanted to see but never had was old Izki. Less than an hour from Muscat really if you don't stop (and we always do for gas or snacks, or to pray so it winds up longer), Izki was a place I had no real excuse for never seeing.

Izki was important for me to see because of how zakat (the collected Islamic taxes) were distributed in  the old Imamates of Oman. It was also a rather fascinating Persian settlement in Oman, having pre-Islamic origins.

From a tourism sort of point of view, the ruins are extensive and impressive, and so is the story of Jarnan cave (Jarnan was the Persian idol that was once worshiped there).

Me, personally, I like the old war stories from the fort there from the Islamic periods, when the tribes were being crappy Muslims and not following Islamic laws governing warfare. Some of the sieges in Izki were broken using questionable means, like destroying the water systems, and as I would walk around the old fort remains, I could imagine what I've read taking place before my eyes. I don't like to do this in places like Rustaq and Nakhl, because I cringe a little going through certain doorways, or thinking of all the torture that went on in prison cells, but Izki to me, is more like imagining Homer's Illiad, and the taking of Troy. It would make a great movie;).

But...we just had never made it to Izki. All these years in Oman, and yeah, I didn't go.

My Omani husband has friends here who always beg him to visit, and still, we've never stopped.

But we finally did. And this was my adventure:

The ruins are quite a maze, and I recently went there and got myself totally lost. I took my 6 year old daughter with me.

She wanted to come, and she later regretted it, because it was the middle of the afternoon, and after an hour of exploring the old part of Izki, she wanted get back to the AC of the car and find some water. It was also still Ramadan. Most people were asleep.

We had seen some beautiful old houses, with unique staircases and beautiful old doors and shutters, as well as an Omani scarecrow, a grape arbor, and the cutest little cement old house with a pink and green iron painted gate and a cactus on its wall. Omani preppy;). We kept coming back to this little blue door though, so we knew we were going in circles somehow, and just couldn't find this hill we had come over. That hill led to the house we cut through to get to the side street where out car was parked. The blue door was the only landmark we could find to point us to the hill, but it only seemed to lead me in circles.

When I could not find our car again, this was, of course, embarrassing.

At the insistence of my daughter who had been turning the colour of a tomatoe--- she was begging me to swallow my pride and ask for directions--- we asked for help from the only person we saw awake.

Long story short, a local family ended up helping me and taking me on a tour of Izki. This  included the place they fire their rifles off for Eid celebrations, and the cave of Jarnan.
All in all I enjoyed myself, but it was embarrassing.

As my phone was just recently stolen (also during Ramadan, thank you Souq Seeb purse thief for also stealing my money and bank cards while I was buying my kids Eid gifts!!!!!!) I have no way to contact the lady who helped me. So Aisha from Izki, thank you.
So, now the theft story. It was the last ten days of Ramadan and I was buying my kids new shoes (and later was going to get them toys for Eid gifts) in Seeb Souq, back in Muscat. I put my purse down beside me, and someone stole it. The police refused to even file a complaint because it was not stolen out of my hands.

Sorry Seeb police, but yeah, you try minding three kids, while trying on shoes for them, and keep your purse in your hands at all times. Stealing is stealing, if you take something from beside someone, same as you rip it off their arm. Maybe I should take a ride in a squad car parked outside my house, because no officer was in it at the time? I think that is about the same thing but whatever, I know it was about to be Eid weekend and no one wanted to work.

I lost the money I had to buy my kids new shoes, and toys, and to get a new headscarf that actually matches my Eid dress, and my phone with all my contacts, but whatever, people are worse off in this world I guess.

While the theft experience was very disheartening, the generosity of people like Aisha and her husband from Izki more than make up for that, and define Oman for me.

They made sure my daughter had a nice cool water to drink, drove around looking for our car, then spent time showing us their city even though it was the middle of the day, and they were fasting. That is Oman and Omanis.

Not useless police, and petty thieves.

So when Muscat gets me down, all I need is to get lost on a road trip it seems.

Anyways, Eid Mubarak Oman, and Muslims everywhere. May your holiday be blessed.
The GPS coordinates for Izki, are, according Y magazine: N24°20’16.6” E56°30’11.0”. But of course, I didn't use these. I just drove around and got lost;).


කණ්ඩා ~ Kanda said...

I have been reading your posts for a while but was too lazy to leave any comments. I must confess I'm a big fan of your writing style. Unlike formal trip logs and monotonous blogs(Booooring) your writing really does open a window to life in Oman.

Explorer in me had sights on Oman for a quite few yesrs and sometime back I had the good fortune to visit Kasab and Muscat from UAE where I reside. Those trips left a lingering thirst for more off the beaten path exploring in Oman.

I wish I get more time to explore Oman soon and meanwhile keep the good work going.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Kanda: Oh thank you. I do that too with people's blogs;).

My writing is very very informal. I'm am glad someone likes it. It gives some people a headache;).

I have never been to Musandam. I need to go.

You should definitely come. As far as the GCC goes Oman is still pretty authentic. I don't know in 30 years but I hope we'll save what we have and appreciate it more. InshaAllah.

Elisa Kashmir said...

Omani Princess, it is always a sincere joy to read you. At this time, you touched also a technical problem for me. I am really ineterested, for passion and for my work also, in knowing more about the history of Izki. Please, where did u find your informations from...and....where is this cave?? :) It woul be highly appreciated if u could find the time for giving me some bibliography.

thank u a lot and following you.


Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Elisa: I google archaeology papers on google scholar a lot generally, and I save the names of authors I know work in Oman and look for their publishing yearly. I like the libraries at SQU and the Heritage Ministry a lot.

Jarnan cave can be reached two ways. One is hiking down a little ways from the actual old Izki which to be honest, I didn't do and don't know if it means cutting across anyone's property or anything but it looked feasible.

The other way is driving through the wadi bed directly below old Izki. I took the way from the eid gun tower, heading back to the highway, but then cutting into the wadifrom what would then be the left. Turning onto the wadi, the cave was on the side of old izki. Jarnan Cave looks like a little park so it is easy to find as you drive along. We didn't record GPS. We were tired and overheated at this point but if I go back again I will take it down and actually go up to photograph the inside a bit.

Even basic books like "Castles and Forts of Oman" reference Izki in terms of some of the sieges that took place there, and even mention Jarnan cave, if you are looking for a more widely published book start. Once you know the time periods or the historical characters, to get further information just check google scholar with those as keywords, and you'll come up with a lot.

Elisa Kashmir said...

Omani Princess thank u!!!! :) I generally loose memory about everything that I just read online, so that's why generally I go for ready made books :) eheh....old fashioned.

Google scholar is really a superidea, I usd it for my thesys, but ater that I forgot about its existence.

I didn t know why, but I got no update about ur answer, so I went just to have a check now...and there is! :) thank u so much.

Reading you always. :)