Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Road to Sur

Sorry for the absence guys, I have so much to catch up on both on my blog and in real life. I'll start with our trip to Ras Al Jinz, a place south of Muscat known for being the birthplace of thousands of giant sea turtles every year. It's a decently long drive so we made a lot of stops along the way.
The first was Wadi Aarbaeen an aquamarine jewel hiding behind a respectably steep mountain --I don't think I will ever get used to the kind of crazy driving involved with scaling these Omani mountains.

We stopped by the beach in Fins to swim then headed to the nearby sinkhole-park. I'd been here earlier with my family an it's an awe-inspiring sight every time, looking from above, swimmers look like ants swishing about in a vast blue dent in the earth. 
After swimming, lunch and lots of driving we stopped in Sur proper for some kymaat (Omani sweet you get at tiny coffeeshops to eat with chai or kahwa--like delicious balls of funnel cake with sesame seeds) and to tour the Dhow factory. By tour I mean walk in randomly and wander around--we then discovered several "wadi dogs" and host of other wildlife which was added to the list of animals we plan on adopting and making official YES pets. The current list goes: goat kid, baby turtle, camel, assorted lizards and snails. We're sure Fatin won't mind making some room in her office for them.

At  Ras al Jinz we settled into the hotel/wildlife center and soon it was time for the main attraction; introducing The! Pregnant! Turtles! I don't have any pictures of this whole part because you were technically not supposed to have any cameras or light sources which might disrupt the turtles (although that didn't stop quite of a number of furiously-texting/picture-taking tourists). We stood in the dark on the beach at around 11 o'clock, watching a giant sea turtle squeeze out dozens of dough-ball-looking eggs. It felt like a very private, delicate moment for the turtle mama that me and 40-some other Europeans were just standing and gawking at. Seems kind of awkward for the turtle. 

The next morning us girls woke up early so we could  contemplate life while sitting atop boulders and watching the sun rise over ocean.

 We spent the next day first exploring Wadi Bin Khaled, one of the biggest Wadis I've ever seen. Even while cruise-ship-tourist-filled it was gorgeous, and we had a lot of fun cliff diving into the water.

In the afternoon we found the dirt-gravel-low shrub scenery that characterizes much of Muscat turning into a finely sanded, barren expanse, until we were surrounded on all sides by the towering orange-brown dunes of Wahiba. We ate in the house of a Bedouin family who hosts visitors as a business and they let us try on some traditional Bedu clothing.
After lolling in the sun, taking the requisite "Look we're jumping in the desert" pictures, and riding some camels (not going to lie, I was completely terrified), we headed back towards Muscat.
The last and one of the most interesting stops we made was in the city of Ibra, which used to be a major trading hub at the height of the Omani empire. Now many of those grand old buildings have fallen into ruin and we spent some time exploring them.

 A couple hours of driving and we were back in Muscat. Venturing outside of Muscat to see Oman's crazy diversity (both in nature and culture) is always amazing, and I loved how this trip let us see so much of the Sharqiyah region. Next post I'll talk about Sohar!