Sometimes you get to meet the most inspirational people in the most unexpected places. It all begins with you and it all depends on you being able to grasp that opportunity, to catch it and make the most of it. If you are here to inspire with the help of other people, then chances of meeting someone interesting may arise unexpectedly anywhere and everywhere.
While I was travelling to the Sultanate of Oman with Qatar Airways on 15 of October 2011 I came to meet a 23 year old English guy named Joe Daniels, who was more than open to socialise with me. To tell the truth, a plane was just half full and I was truly hoping to sit by myself, but apparently life had other ideas for me. I must say at the first half an hour all I truly wanted was sleep, sleep and more sleep, so he was understanding enough not to disturb me. Half an hour later he noticed that I was feeling chilly, so he kindly offered me a second blanket (one of his own), and so our conversation began. Of course, the least I planned or expected was to write an article about this conversation with the stranger that I got to meet on my way to the Sultanate of Oman, but when a wonderful opportunity and an interesting personality presented themselves, I simply could not ignore it.
A sunset in the Wahiba Desert, Oman
Joe is from the South Devon, England. He is a passionate explorer and adventurer. He takes cold showers only, does not drink hot drinks, does not mind cold whatsoever and loves looking at the stars. Joe sees himself as a child of nature.
So we got talking. Joe told me that his greatest passion was climbing the mountains, exploring various caves, canoeing, and undertaking anything that had to do with the outdoors. One more thing he insisted upon was he loved looking at the stars. When he walks or climbs the mountains one of his favourite moments is when night falls, because that’s when he can stare at the sky, look at the stars and just rest his mind. This made him to become interested in astronomy, which he currently studies by himself during his free time. The stars inspire him to continue doing what he is doing, to dream, to follow his vision, to walk the talk, to live each moment to the fullest.
According to Joe, he was never much interested in doing well at school as his attention often was directed to something else, to some other activities, and teachers at school did have a hard time with him from time to time until one day, when he was 14 years old, his Art teacher invited him to attend The Outdoor Club that had to do with walking, climbing, canoeing, tracking, caving. By the way, at the beginning caving was his biggest fear, and so for some time Joe refused to pursue that activity. Joe was not a great lover of school, even though he admits that now he fully understands what a struggle he might have been to his teachers at that time. “If I could turn the clock back just a little bit, I would be a bit more patient, nicer and kinder to my teachers, as now I understand what courage and patience it takes to be a teacher, to deal with challenging children and yet be able to educate them in the best way possible.”
On the Selma Platou, Oman
However, those school outdoor activities that happened only once a week were something that he was truly looking forward to. At times his Art teacher would take students on a few day trips as well, which would involve intense climbing, tracking, walking and constantly being outdoors, and Joe enjoyed every each one of them. Fortunately, at the age of 17 he overcame his fear of caving, and since then he has been exploring various caves fearlessly and with a great curiosity.
“The only reason I am doing what I am doing is because of my Art Teacher and his belief in me,” Joe kindly gives his praises. “He recognised a hidden ability I possessed and encouraged me to develop it, to grow with it, to follow my passion. He laid a foundation that I am standing on now. Because of him I found what my passion was. Now I walk and climb mountains in the Sultanate of Oman usually six to seven months each year. This time it is my third trip.”
Joe said he likes the Sultanate of Oman a lot. He benevolently speaks about this country: “It is a beautiful country. I feel safe here. Every day I meet many kind people, I get to see wonderful sceneries, climb and walk amazing mountains and dessert. And stars at night… they are breathtaking!” Whenever he said something, I could feel a great sincerity in his voice and believed every word he spoke.
I was curious enough to ask what brought him to the Sultanate of Oman. “The senior instructor from the company Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre came to England for three months to gain some English qualifications, so therefore we got to know each other and became friends. After he left, we stayed in touch and later he invited me to explore the land of the Sultanate of Oman. I could not resist his invitation, and so I said yes.” But before he came to Oman, Joe needed to wait until he became 21 years old in order to qualify for the position. Once he reached the required age, his senior instructor Justin offered him a position, which Joe accepted straight away, and took charge of his arrival.
Down a cave called Seventh Hole, on the Selma Platou, Oman
The first time he landed in the Sultanate of Oman was in 2009. “Before I even came to the Sultanate of Oman, I had no clue where this country was or whether it existed at all and especially what to expect from it,” he kindly admitted his lack of knowledge he had at that time.
In Oman Joe works as a tour guide. He is also in charge of fixing ropes and making sure all the climbers are safe. He enjoys his activities, even though at times it can be very physically demanding, at times cold or extremely hot. He also does tracking trips which range from seven to ten days or even longer. However, he is never alone, as there is always someone else with him, other guides. Mainly most of tourists that he gets to work with come from Germany, Great Britain and Holland.
Whenever Joe is in UK he works as a climbing instructor at The Rock Centre. He teaches others climbing, mountain walking and tracking. He has been working there for over seven years. “I get on very well with my boss Wendy, she treats me very well and gives me freedom to come back to work and go whenever I choose or have to. Whenever I come back to UK from Oman, I always have a job. I feel very grateful for being surrounded by people who believe in my skills and abilities and who are always eager to work with me.” He has a full time freelance employment with The Rock Centre, but also he is always given a freedom to work for other companies as well. In addition to this, Joe is a team member of Devon Cave Rescue Organisation in UK, where he has been volunteering for the past three years.
“You have to make the most of your life while you can, to live it to the fullest, because one day we all will go and whatever we leave – we will leave,” Joe says. I must say his words have their weight and they are spoken based on his life experiences. Yes, a young man is just 23 years old, but since when wisdom has anything to do with age? Our own experience is our best teacher, and Joe seems to be open to the lessons of life.
First time riding the camel in the Wahiba Desert, Oman
He was very nice and polite to me throughout the whole trip. He also kindly shared his egg and mayo sandwich with me at Doha, Qatar airport while waiting for our flight to Muscat, Oman. He also stood closely by my side when I first time stepped out of the plane in Doha, Qatar, as he felt a bit concerned whether I will be able to cope well with a sudden change of weather conditions – heat and humidity. I felt at ease in this young man’s company, it was a great pleasure and fun to talk to him, to share conversation and experiences and even sit by each others’ side while taking a long journey all the way to the Gulf Coast.
I went and stayed in the Sultanate of Oman for just one week and I know I will be back there once again, but Joe…he will stay there until May 2012, then he will go back to his homeland, where he will continue his work, and then, when time comes, he might go back to the country that he was quick enough to fall in love with or go and explore other lands rich with their scenery, mountains, forests and deserts and full of breathtaking stars in the night sky. That’s a fate of the explorer…