We will never forget the day we arrived in Oman. It was the first time on this journey and in our life, that we flew with a bicycle.
We arrived in Muscat in the middle of the night and have been taken in but a wonderful person who lives in Muscat since several years. After we re-assembled our bikes we started touring Oman immediately and were blown aways on day one by it´s beauty.
We went straight to the mountains and experiences the steep climbs everyone was talking about from day one. On day two the wind set in and broke our tent on day 4. So here we were, in the middle of the night without a roof above our heads. We were riding around that night to find a rather windless area so we could at least half build our tent. This was the day when we experienced the well-known Omani helpfulness for the first time. We asked some locals if they can help us to find a spot to camp and they drove Jan around in the car (I was waiting and protected by a friend of the driver) until they found a place where we then cycled to and stayed the night. The next day we spend looking for a way to fix our tent well enough so it would survive the 2 month of Oman adventure which was laying in front of us.
After we settled that we cycled through landscaped we have never seen before such as moon-like black mountain ranges as well as deserts with huge sand dunes. We camped in extraordinary sceneries, hikes stunning Wadis and bathed in crystal clear water straight from the mountains. After meeting Anas, a passionate activist from Al Hamra, we got in touch with a lot of people regarding our project. We planned to go back to Muscat to meet a lot of people and find out about the situation of people with mental health issues in Oman as well as talking about Stigma and Stigmatisation power. We were incredibly happy that everything worked out so well and enjoyed our time to the fullest.
Until this one morning when we were about to set off from our camp spot and discovered that Jan´s back rim had 17 cracks all round it. We rode back to Muscat immediately and tried to replace the rim as well as the tent but there were absolutely no spare parts available which could have been used for the aimed purpose. Now we had a broken tent, a broken rim, and the next morning the seating pad of Iris´ saddle ripped off as well.
After a few days of unsuccessfully trying to repair our gear but successfully talking to people about mental health and extending our visa, we decided to tape and glue everything we had and just take the chance to head back on the road and see if it will work out. And it did work. And the second time we set off was even more amazing than the first. The landscapes we saw where unreal and every day we encountered a friendly and generous gesture of Omanis.
We have been fed, taken in and we also got a lift with a pick-up on a very windy day (we probably looked like we were suffering). After another 24 days of constant cycling, we went back to Muscat, looking forward to work more on our project and even more looking forward going back to Turkey. But then we got the information, that we were not able to get into Turkey as we misunderstood the entry regulations. Even though we left Turkey before our 90 days expired so we won’t overstay, we were apparently only allowed to be in Turkey 90 days within a period of 180 days – which would only be over on April 18th. Our heart was dropping when we figured that out, not only because of the flight we already had booked or the Omani Visa which was running out but also because there was a delegation from Iris´ University basically on the way to Antalya to meet us there. What followed were two days of hassle to work things out and make a new plan. In between we went on with our research and visited a school in Muscat which teaches kids with mental and physical disabilities next to kids without those conditions.
Oman has been a wonderful experience. The first time on our trip we flew with our bikes and the first time as well we experienced difficulties. The first time we actually had, for some hours, no idea what to do, no plan how to go on. But one thing we never had even for one second – the thought of giving up!