There I am, on the road in the middle of a desert on Masirah Island in Oman.
What am I doing here? Masirah Island is an hour of Ferry from Shannah, about 100km long and 12km wide. I was hitchhiking (mostly just standing there in some quite deserted area) along the beautiful coast line, starring at the ocean and trying to convince myself not to return swimming as I would never get anywhere if I kept missing the few cars that were driving by, but it’s 40 degrees and the white sand and turquoise water wins, again.
I throw my bag and jump in the warm water. Still refreshing. This time though, is significantly different. A small wooden boat with an old and very questionable motor, approaches with in it a few fishermen. They are coming in my direction. Trying to understand what is going on I’m standing still observing the boat coming. It doesn’t seem to be braking at all! I finally understand that they will crash the boat on the beach and then drag it.
Once it’s done, I swim over to help them push the beached boat further inland. They didn’t quite understand what I was saying when I offered to help, so I just did. We pushed and pushed and finally settled. We went on to doing this kind of greeting without words I guess. Mostly just smiles and nods. This is actually one of my most common short interactions with people who don’t speak any English. We just laugh together at the situation. Not being able to communicate with words open different ways of communication. I’m much more observing what they do trying to decrypt behaviours and anticipate actions.
The boat is full of fish! The fishermen are happy and seems to be proud. As I’m about to walk away they offer me a heavy plastic bag. In it, 3 big FISH! I try to explain that I’m hitchhiking, sleeping in my tent and would have absolutely no way of cooking and eating these. But like I mentioned before. We couldn’t make it past “Hello” with words so I kindly accept the gift and return on the road.
So here I am, again, on the road, in the middle of a desert, on Masirah Island in Oman with a dripping bag full of fish. If I wasn’t getting any lifts before, I highly doubted being picked up. I started thinking about how a waste this would be and how I could have made a bigger effort trying to refuse the fish with those fishermen. How, by accepting it, I was taking away from their own homes and their own families. Before I start getting any ideas of returning to the beach and looking for these men, a car stops. A few greeting nods and smiles, as usual, but this time the man in the car lends out his hand holding an apple and offers it to me along with a bottle of water. No time to say “Thank you” or maybe “Would you give me a ride?” he is already long gone. I can’t expect people from all corners of the world to know I’m looking for a ride when I have my thumb out on the side of the road.
Rambling on this thoughts, the next car that drives by stops! I got a ride!
They absolutely don’t care of my dripping bag and the smell. I’m back on the road with new strangers. We soon stop at a beach where other Omani people are having a wood fire. We can’t talk but they show me how to skin the fish and cook it. We share the fish given to me earlier that day. We laugh, we eat, and I feel closer to these man than people I can talk with.
On this beach, I can see the constellations moving in an arc as the night pass. The reflection of the fire on the fishermen faces shows hardship but also happiness. I feel that the events of the day chained up well to bring me to that moment.
From swimming, getting caught in a net until the moment I ate my fish, It’s hard to express but the way they came into my possession until they have been shared make me feel of the end of a loop. The end of a cycle I can only glimpse. This feeling last for an instant and I fall asleep thinking of how mysterious life is.