Oman is the first country where our term was structured differently. Instead of having one long WeXplore during week 4, we had two small overnight trips. One in week three and one in week 5. The plan for our first overnight trip seemed great, and for the most part, it was. We left the res at 7 am to head to the Grand Mosque. There, we had an hour to explore. Afterward, we drove to Wadi Shab, which is like the Omani Grand Canyon. At Wadi Shab we hiked, swam and went cave exploring. Then, to finish off the day, we went camping at Finns beach, a two-hour drive from Muscat.
Arriving and setting up camp at the beach was great. The sun was going down, there was a light breeze in the air and all was well. For dinner, everyone barbecued together. Community spirit was in the air until--
Wait a minute. Is it- raining?
What are the chances? In Oman, it rains three to four times a year. Of course, the moment CM2 decides to leave Muscat, it starts to rain. But no big deal, after all, it was just a drizzle. We set up large tents to cover our food and continued eating. Then the drizzle turned into proper rain. The heavy rain exacerbated the movement of the tides, and before we knew it, we had to move our tents to higher ground so they wouldn’t get washed away. We waited for the rain to die down and then systematically moved our tents up a hill.
Also, not a big deal.
That’s when I first noticed how intense the lightning was. All students were told to get into one of the busses until the lighting stopped, so we all did. Once all the students were on the busses, that’s when stuff really started going down.
The storm picked up. There was lots of rain and wind. It was a strange feeling, sitting on the bus, looking out the window as the scene unfolded. The wind got stronger and stronger, our tents were bending against their wills. Eventually, the tents gave up. One particularly harsh gust of wind blew by and sent four or five of our tents flying and tumbling away. The bus was dead silent as we watched the educators chase after the tents. I was one of few that grabbed their phone on the way to the bus. We watched as the tents with all of our belongings in them got subdued by the storm.
More and more tents were blown away by the wind. Then the educators came up with a new plan of attack, they started taking down the tents as best as possible. Still in the bus, we got handed empty, drenched husks of what once were the tents we so tediously put up. The rain got harsher and the busses started to fill up. All of the tents had been taken down, most of them had been packed. Only six or so remained as tarps on the floor when the educators also got into vehicles because the storm got too harsh. And then we waited until it died down.
Because the two busses were full, the new plan of attack was to send one bus to the nearest gas station, unload all the students and wet tents with stuff in them, and send it back to grab the rest of the tents that were still on the beach. Once all of the remaining wet things were packed up, everyone relocated to the gas station. By now the storm had stopped, so we were allowed to get off the busses again. What ensued was a strange scene, that I would have loved to see from an outside perspective. 28 students and 7 educators hauling soaked and sandy things from the busses and out of deflated tents.
If you were lucky and your tent was closed when disaster struck, all of your stuff was probably still in the tent and wet. If your tent was open, chances are stuff fell out in the tumbling and got sandy as well. There were clothes, towels, water bottles, and hats strewn all over the gas station as people went around to try and collect their things.
Another interesting turn of events was that all of us were barefoot. Considering we were at the beach, everyone had taken off their shoes and left them outside their tents. So in the rush of things, the educators threw all shoes they found into one bucket. I don’t think anyone put their shoes on again that night, they were all sandy and soaked. Once all of the stray items of clothing were claimed, all of the tents, food, sleeping mats and bags were packed properly, we reloaded the bus and headed back to muscat. We arrived back at the res at 2 am.
Despite all that happened, we thought the entire situation was quite funny because what are the chances? The entire experience just made me really grateful for the TGS community. To have people to share the experience definitely lightened the mood and made the experience something that I enjoyed, rather than something I suffered through.