â€śAll journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.â€ť - Martin Bub
6 am, arrives quickly, but we are refreshed from the nights sleep and the fresh air. Its cool outside, and Chris and I take the opportunity to head up the sand dunes to attempt sandboarding. Sandboarding is just snowboarding, on sand. Our Morrow snowboards provided by the camp, are either regular, or goofy foot. We choose our regular footed board and a sled, and head up the hill.
The sand is thick, and it reminds me of snowboarding in heavy wet snow. The tail of the board refusing to let us go â€śtoe sideâ€ť. I finally just slide nearly straight down, my only concern is to not end up imitating a scorpion. Sand probably would feel worse then snow on the face. The sled is quick and a bit scary, as I get towards the bottom, I put my feet out to slow myself down. Chris isn't as successful, he felt like he was sinking, rather than sliding on the sled, and opted for another run at the sandboard. By now, the sun is fully up, and we quit sandboarding, just in time to see the families with kids heading up the hill.
After breakfast, we rode camels around the camp. Chris got the ornery one, that was honking in protest, long before Chris got chance to get on it. After feeling like I was going to be thrown off head first over the front of the camel, we were up in the air, high above the ground as the camels rose to their feet.
Riding a camel is not much different from riding a horse, except that a horse doesn't have a hump. The Bedouin boys led the horses around the camp, while chatting in Arabic between themselves. Chris and I had our own paparazzi, as Joel and Tina would pop up now and then, taking photos for us. After the short ride was over, it was Tina and Joel's turn to get on our furry humped friends, and our turn to be the paparazzi.
Bedouin man with Camel
We drove out of the desert before it got too hot out, thus warming up the sand below the car, as well as softening it up. After getting the tires re-inflated at the â€śtyre repair shopâ€ť, we headed back towards the coast. As we discussed our route, Tina mentioned that she had wished she had bought the rug in the turtle gift shop. So back to Ras Al Jinz we went.
However, somewhere along the way, someone decided to take a road, that ended up being a unpaved gravel road. Talk about taking the road less traveled, Joel using his amazing sense of direction chose the roads to take, as they would often divide at forks. We stopped at one point to take photos of camels that were grazing on the side of the highway, directly next to a camel warning sign! We also saw a black baby camel, which are considered to be more valuable and beautiful. Amazingly after nearly 2 hours of driving, we hit pavement, only to realize that we were within 100 meters to the turn off to the turtle center! What amazing luck we had. When we arrived, we were unfortunately told that the shop was closed until 4pm. You see, everything in Oman closes at around 1pm until 4pm, a sort of siesta time. With a little Canadian charm, Joel was able to convince someone to open the shop up for us, Tina got her rug, and our trip was successful.
We have lunch in Sur, and check out the dhow yard, where they are still building dhow's.
Although perhaps not the same way they used to, they didn't use any nails or bolts before, but it appears they do now. Of course, more modern machinery is used for cutting the wood, but all the wood is brought in raw, and is cut at the yard. We stop at a lighthouse overlooking the water, all the while goats trot around though the roads beside our car.
Lighthouse in Sur
We then headed back towards Muscat, stopping along the way to see an ancient tomb, an amazing structure of an ancient civilization. We also stopped at Wadi Shab which I wish we could have had more time to explore as it was a beautiful natural environment, with palm trees, and water flowing from the mountains to the sea.
With the recent, unseasonable rains, the usually dry Wadi was flowing with water, and a couple of teenage boys were "ferrying" tourists to the other side of the water where the trails led. Beside this "ferry terminal" was a sign by the ministry of tourism, saying that the fee for the ferry ride was fixed at 200 besa's a passenger, and basically one should not pay these kids any more than that. Our next stop was a huge sink hole with its beautiful dark blue water. There was very little signage to this spot, in the past, there was no signage. Stone walls three feet high have been erected around the sink hole, surrounding the old iron fencing. A staircase leads down to the bottom, and a tree that was growing in the path of the staircase was left alone, and grows in the middle of one of the steps.
We arrived in Muttrah in time to pick up the last of our souvenirs before heading back to Joel and Tina's for a home made pasta dinner on the patio where we could admire Joel's green thumb, and candled ambiance in his garden.