Abu Dhabi Weather

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oman (part one)

So last week I was off work, right? I figured that it would be a good time to go camping. There's a bit too much to write in one sitting so I'll be writing about it in parts.

We had a few different people offer to take us camping in various areas of the region. While on the hiking trip with a friend of mine, I met someone who was going camping in Oman for a few days. She has been to Oman a bunch of times and had a 4-year old traveling with her so I figured that after knowing her for only a couple of days and having bought a three-piece sofa set from her, she was just the person to follow on a three-night out of country camping trip. It wasn't until about halfway through the trip that I realized how badly things could have turned out and how lucky we were that her family and her sister's family were pretty cool people and we all got along really well.

The first day, Tuesday, we set out for Muscat. The previous times going to Oman, we only hopped across the border so didn't have to worry about immigration. Because this time we were going pretty far in we had to get visas. By the time we got out of Abu Dhabi, through Oman immigration and into Muscat it was dark. I would've liked to have seen the city in the daylight, but short of leaving a lot earlier or driving a lot faster, we couldn't really avoid it. The woman that was leading the trip knew about a great place that she'd camped at before. We got to a pristine beach that was in a cove next to some ruins and set up our camp. Unlike the last time our friend had been to that site, it was a holiday so there were a bunch of other people camped there. It seemed strange to have so many other people camped close, but everyone was pretty courteous. It was a full moon so we could move around pretty easily.

The next morning when we got up, we noticed that the beach wasn't quite as pristine as we thought. It turned out that we just couldn't see all the garbage in the dark. I even got a nice photo of some of the ruins with our tent blocking the garbage.

We played around at the beach a bit before heading off to the next place. The group I was with knows a lot of cool places to visit in Oman because they've been there a lot. Also, they like to do a lot of exploring to have a look for the next time. In the process of doing this, we took a few scenic roads and drove through a few small towns. We also stopped at a beach and let the kids play around. Unfortunately, we ended up looking for a place to camp after sunset. With knowing the coast well, our friends were able to find a place near the water, but it was a bit rocky with a bit of a drop off into the water. Also, we had to be careful of bits of broken glass. Overall, it wasn't bad.

The really interesting thing about the second night was the huge tent that was about 500 meters away from us. Almost immediately after arriving, two older guys said that they had a huge tent and welcomed us to come over if we had any problems, needed any kind of assistance or just wanted to hang out. It seems that they were camped there and were expecting people the next night. We offered a non-committal thanks and went about our business. A little before midnight after everyone in our camp had gone to bed, I wandered over there to see what was up. I turned out that most of the male members of the guy's family were there. with the party going strong. they had a huge tent set up like a living room with a carpet and pillows on it with about three or four smaller tents for sleeping. There was a generator for electricity, and a huge tank of water on a truck trailer. The older fellow had a game of Uno going. Just after I got there I started playing some game that seemed to be a combination of pool and shuffleboard with a 10-year-old, 12-year-old and a guy in his twenties. The guy in his twenties told me that he'd studied in England for six years and had his Master's degree. The older guy that had invited me over was the patriarch and took two extended camping trips to that spot each year. The trips ranged in time from three weeks to two months. His family would join him for a night or two at a time. That particular night, most of the people were going home after eating. Then the food came.

I was offered chicken, lamb and fish that had been cooked on a fire. I had been ready to go to bed just before that so wasn't all that hungry, but ate a bit to be a good guest. It was delicious. Afterwards, we had the best dates I'd ever eaten. Then it was my turn to play Uno. I didn't really want to get caught up in a game, so was a little relieved when the generator went out for about 30 seconds and broke up the game. It gave me an excuse to take my leave. I was only gone for about 45 minutes but had to drive the next day and didn't want to be up all night.

The Omanis were all really hospitable. Only a few spoke English, but it was really interesting interacting with people in their own culture. I was really glad I took the guy's invitation.

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