Muscat, Jan 6 – The first all-female team that has embarked on the grueling 800 km walk through the desert, including Oman’s most formidable landscape, Rub’ al Khali, the Empty Quarter, has so far covered nearly half the distance.
At present, the team is in the Al Wusta Governorate, having covered more than 350 km.
Janey McGill, along with Omani women, Atheer al Sabri, Baida al Zadjali, all members of ‘Oman Her Faces of Change’, set off on December 10 from Hashman, in an attempt to “capture the essence of women across the landscapes of Oman”.
In the first video they have sent, they said the reason behind their walk was to “understand cultures”.
“Together we will circumnavigate the country and attempt the first all-female exploration, walking the length of Rub’ al Khali,” Janey, who spent four years as a soldier in the British Army’s Honourable Artillery Company, says on her website.
She first wrote to Oman Observer when the team was 70 km into the desert. “A couple of little injuries to contend with, but making good progress. A beautifully levelling experience so far,” she wrote on December 25, 2018.
After two days of walking, they faced some rough weather, which they termed a “minor hindrance”.
They were jubilant as they had surpassed their daily 20 km target.
More important, they were relieved to meet their support team on December 27.
“We had fascinating conversations about Omani culture and issues that face all of us in the world today,” Janey wrote, as the team spirit has been as important as the adventure of crossing the desert.
There was excitement because the support team had brought them a couple of jerrycans so they could splash down after a challenging day.
“We are deep inside Rub’ al Khali. The temperature soared and the sun beat down on us with very little wind. We were all struggling. It was wonderful to have a splash down after a long day.” On the New Year’s day, the team hit a new record of 25.67 km. “We are heading through the desert, edging closer towards Maqshan. The desert is full of surprises. Who would have thought we would find watermelons in the Empty Quarter,” wrote Janey.
The team’s routine consists of breakfast, walk, lunch, stretch, walk, dinner, stretch and sleep. According to Janey, “simplicities of life provoke fascinating conversations, laughter, community support and curiosity.”
“We remain in awe of the changing dunes and terrain. Day by day, we learn about each other, our cultures and how we can build closer relationships with one another through communication.” Janey wrote: “We are making our own tracks in the sand and creating our own legacy in this incredible, beautiful part of Oman. Our team wishes everyone a very happy and fulfilling 2019.” Having covered the distance up to the Al Wusta governorate, they said this part of the journey has not been easy.
“A testing couple of days over arduous and vast dunes. We are walking hard and fast. The Masan tribe offered us the most wonderful hospitality and provided us showers and a room to stay.” Mornings are foggy; the sun burns it off by 11 am. This is when the team walks the most.
“We cover some good kilometres in that time. Today we were greeted by Ahmed and Salem al Katheri. They found us in the desert.” The duo provided the team with coconuts, bananas and even sodas. In the evening, they came back, and cooked meat and rice.
“How lucky we are to have their support and generosity. It is humbling and motivating for us that they have come. Another long day on the cards for tomorrow,” wrote Janey.
The team is expected to conclude their walk at Ibri fort.