My Road to Oman: Desert Recce
December 2017 saw me in the Desert with approximately 14 doctors. A career I haven’t yet attempted.
I am another step closer to my expedition to Oman later this year. From a mind flooded with thoughts and ideas I now have something tangible to present, something that tells people this is happening; I’m walking the walk, no longer just talking the walk.
By coincidence World Extreme Medicine in association with Outward Bound Oman were running this desert medicine course which coincided with my planned dates. I thought that if I am attempting a first for female exploration; walking the length of Oman’s Empty Quarter with local women, then this would probably be a good place to begin.
I met the Director of Outward Bound Oman, Mark Evans MBE, on several occasions prior to this trip. In 2016 he and his team crossed, in the footsteps of Thesiger, the Empty Quarter, through Oman and Saudia Arabia. This is certainly the gentleman to garner all thoughts and knowledge from. In fact little does Mark know but a conversation that we had in January 2016 changed the course of this expedition, more on that another time.
The WEM course stripped us from our creature comforts (or the majority of) we lived in the desert, slept on the sand, bonded as a team, laughed together, learnt about our lives in different countries and did a bit of first aid!
In addition, I do believe that I have the beginnings of my support and logistical team. Two very experienced Doctors have offered their assistance for the expedition and I couldn’t be more delighted.
Away from the serenity of the desert I found myself continuously and ceremoniously lost in Muscat. Something they say you cannot do, mountains on one side and sea on the other, they say. I beg to differ, though I am definitely well acquainted with both directions of the main drag.
For a short period, I was fortunate to immerse myself in local and expat life. Through friends I stayed with a member of his Sultan’s Special Forces. I learnt about the military in Oman; that women play their part and more significantly than I ever dreamed of. Women in the Royal Cavalry, parachutists and pilots; this is something that I will most definitely be looking to explore further.
Eighteen months prior to this recce I met a Saudia Arabian lady through one of my jobs. She and her husband reside for the most part in Oman. I told her of my plans and we remained in touch through our shared love of the country. As a result of this meeting in a dingy estate agents in Pimlico I met several Generals, serving and retired, heads of charities and people that were all very supportive of my plans.
It’s amazing how my path over the last decade, no matter how happy or challenging at the time, and the relationships that I have forged along the way, have lead me to this point. The dots are connecting and whilst I mostly feel restless in the grind of daily life, I can say that I feel content in the direction that I am heading.
I am so grateful and appreciative for the support that I have received so far and continue to receive both directly and indirectly. You know who you are and if you don’t you will!
This recce was invaluable. It clarified everything that I felt vague or unsure about. I have never questioned my ability for endurance in temperate environments but the desert is a different beast. Now I have every confidence that I can lead a team of local Omani women through the length of Oman’s Empty Quarter.