Goat Rodeos and Beehive Tombs --- Nizwa
Nizwa Travel Blog› entry 15 of 20 › view all entries
Buffet breakfast at the Golden Tulip was almost elegant, except John was with us.
We checked out and headed into Nizwa, bound for the Friday Market at the famous souk here. The Nizwa Market is a glorious collection of souks: a fruit and vegetables souk, a meat souk, a date souk, a fish souk and others all adjoining. Firday morning they hold a goat market and things get rather chaotic. We pulled up around 10AM, just as the goat market was closing down.
Talk about a goat rodeo! Cars attempted to stream into the parking area from all directions, but merely stacked up because of all the folks attempting to load the morning’s livestock purchases onto vehicles. Goats and cattle milled about everywhere, very similar to all the cars paralyzed in the gridlock.
The Nizwa souk is a magical place, countless alleyways and aisles crammed with merchants and their piles of wares. It is very old and you feel as though you’ve stepped back into time as you stride past bags of spice and counters of silver and gold. Deep within the bowels of the souk we actually came across a guy raising a bucket out of working water well.
There was a jewelry merchant we struck up a conversation with and everyone made several purchases. The cutest piece was a necklace with a tiny jewel box on it that Mark bought for his daughter. Our jeweler embodied the honesty of all the other merchants we had bargained with, always letting you know which silver pieces were pure by saying “92.5” (for 92.5% silver) or “not 92.5”.
We emerged from the souk at the Nizwa Fort, which was closed (Friday being the holy day), but took a few pictures and then everyone purchased a mussar at a shop near the fort.
Mark spotted a lunch spot with outdoor seating that was serving shi sha, and we ducked in to afford John the opportunity of smoking a water pipe. Our waitress spoke zero English and there were no menus, so it was a bit of a challenge getting everything ordered, but persistence paid and it was another positive experience. The restaurant was packed with locals, almost everyone smoking shi sha and playing dominos, a handful playing backgammon. John got right into the groove of shi sha, a broad grin revealing his delight.
Another ten minutes down the road we stopped at
We were heading towards Ibri, where we had reservations for the night, and our final target on the way there was another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the beehive tombs of Bat. These diminutive stone huts which shelter group burial sites are exceedingly old. Research dates the earliest tombs back to 3000 B.C. and their resting spot in the Hajar mountain range has allowed them to withstand the ages remarkably well.
Unfortunately we got a bit lost in our search for Bat --- none of the roads are signposted in
There was still a bit of a drive to Ibri, but we eventually arrived at the Ibri Oasis Hotel, next to the local camel racetrack. In all the restaurants and hotels the attendants seemed to be completely comprised of Omanis, but here the staff was mostly Indian. We had a hunch that might impact the menu in the restaurant, and it certainly did. In addition to a nice complement of Indian dishes, the menu had several Chinese and Thai options.
It was our last night in