At night we couldn’t see much but the next morning we awoke to mountains surrounding the city and a steady haze. We have apparently come when the rain is in town. Though hoping for some clear blue skies, we turned out to be quite grateful as the clouds offered a little extra cover and cooler temperatures. It is much warmer here for us and not even close to the thick of summer. We left Muscat and made our way south stopping at three old towns of Fanja, Ibra, and Mudhairib. We saw traditional Omani homes made of clay (300-400 years old) or stone (1000 yrs old), we were able to climb to the top to one of the watch towers and see some lovely views filled with date trees and the city below. Though we felt we kept a sauntering pace, we were apparently quite efficient for the day so we headed for the desert early. We were told that people mostly get held up with questions and so the day goes much more slowly. I guess we are lucky to hear a lot about local life in the gulf region so maybe we had less or maybe we saved them for our car ride and learned more about our driver and day to day in Oman. He’s actually quite interesting and is quite excited to have some younger tourists as he enjoys a lot more of the adventure activities compared to history. I guess that’s why he trained with the special police but then quit because Oman is too safe and boring. He actually started today by telling us our first day would not be so interesting haha (fast forward, it still turned out great). He was maybe right about the villages but it afforded us a chance to see some of the rural areas in Oman.
the unofficial doors of Oman album:
Since we were early to the desert our guide took us to a local farmer’s camel stash. No one was around but he assured us we could slip under the fence and we could go near the camels. This made our day. We scratched them, selfied, and enjoyed each other jumping at their grunts. Yes, we know they are gross, but we were still ecstatic. We also stopped for tea and dates at a Bedouin home where we enjoyed watching the 9 or so children play with sticks and dress up carefully wrapping their hijabs and then urgently returning to smacking each other with the sticks.
Pause for camel photos:
At last we drove deeper into wahiba sands and arrived at our camp. Though it was mid afternoon we were still maybe too early so we all had an afternoon nap lying out on the Bedouin style cushions and waited for the owner to open shop. After our rest and another cup of tea, apparently breaking all boundaries by drinking tea with dates instead of coffee, we set out for a hike on the dunes. We were hoping to catch the sun set but were quite early. So we wandered at around the highest dunes and peacefully enjoyed the view. We chatted about life and somehow ended up explaining country music and Nashville to our guide at the top of a dune. We also had him teach us how to write our names in the sand in Arabic. While we waited we noticed some ominous gloom approaching. Well before the sun was due to set not only did the clouds catch up with us but a cool wind and the start of a sand storm found us too. Though we hoped for one in Kuwait it didn’t really dawn on us it could happen here but we burried our heads and or cameras and decided to try waiting it out. We giggled as I serenaded Becca with Disney and pitch perfect from underneath our cover. When we realized the break in the clouds would not reach us in time we chanced a final photo and gleefully ran down the dunes which felt a lot like what I imagine jumping on the moon would be like. Probably not but hey. We spent the next hour til dinner de-sanding in our bedouin style camp and open roof shower which was quite refreshing before enjoying a buffet style dinner with the other guests and guides. Of course, our weather adventure did not end there though! On our way to dinner a thunderstorm approached! In the desert! We avoided getting drenched on the way back as the storms move quickly. Our guide advised us to wait to leave the hall after the rain stopped. We said what if it doesn’t stop? And he laughed and said “it will stop, you’re in Oman.”
Aside from Becca being a really great pT friend and helping me with a oncoming headache, we packed ourselves into our toasty room wrapped up in our mosquito nets and called it a night before an early start tomorrow.