12. Omani holiday
“Do you want some lobster? Ehm, yes sure why not!” We arrived in paradise; the most Southern part of Oman, Salalah. White sandy beaches, palm trees, rocky mountains, camels wandering by, green/blue sea with amazing cliffs, and hardly any other camper, for some nights we even have our own private bay. To make paradise complete, a fisherman stops by to give us some lobsters.
We are in our 3rd Oman week. When we arrived in Oman, we had to get used to the serene atmosphere. In Iran there was always something going on, always people around, always new situations. Oman feels more calm.
The Omani’s we meet are super welcoming. We’ve experienced this in several ways; when camping at the beach a big car stops and a chique looking Omani steps out of the car. He introduces himself, tells us how much his car is worth (it’s clearly a status object) and tells us he is the CEO of a Salt factory close by. “Can I help you, do you perhaps want a shower”? is his first question. Ehhh, well, if that’s his first question he might be hinting to the fact that we either smell or that the dread-look in our hair shows that we used only the sea as our shower for the last 10 days. A proper shower sounds pretty good so we kindly accept his invitation. The next day we drive to the Salt factory where we are welcomed by the manager. And the assistent manager. And the assistant from the assistant manager. The first asks us if we want tea, and the second yells to the third that he needs to bring us tea. Hello Omani hierarchy. The assistent manager – we named him Ferry Important- takes us to the cabin of the CEO. He shows us the bathroom and tells his assistant to bring some lunch. A few hours later we leave the plant. Completely clean and with a full stomach. Happy with this moment of luxury!
Another example of the Omani friendliness is when we visit one of the Wadi’s in the North East, Wadi Tiwi. When we arrive, a local, Sahid, approaches us and asks if we want to see the waterval. Sure why not, so we follow him downhill. He shows us the wonderful Wadi and invites us to climb down with ropes and swim in the beautiful pools. At that moment we guess he might be some kind of guide, and he probably will ask for some money afterwards. But hey, let’s enjoy it; he does show us this nice surroundings which we wouldn’t have found ourselves. We swim for a while and climb uphill back to the town where he takes us to his house where lunch is ready to be served. Ok, this is definately a paid tour we think. After lunch he brings us back to the car where we offer him some money. But he doesn’t accept, he explains he enjoys showing his country to guests. This kind of hospitality keeps on surprising us.
Besides the people, also the landscape surprises us. It’s funny how you form a picture of a country in your head, and when you arrive you realize this picture is based just on a few stories. The same goes for Oman, where we mainly expected desert and beaches. But already in our first Omani days we are treated on some beautiful mountains and wadi’s. We can test the power of our car again with steep mountain tracks and enjoy some walks in wadi’s with beautiful green. Besides the differences in landscapes, nature ‘treats’ us on wind, a lot of wind. So when we arrive at camp spots -mainly at beaches- we make a quick dinner outside and get into the car pretty early to watch a movie or read a book. On one Friday night we camp at a beautiful white beach. But the sea (West side) is wild and the wind (East side) is heavy so at night in the tent it feels like sleeping in a centrifuge. At 6AM we see Omani’s around us packing their stuff. We see a family who’s camp is almost completely blown into the sea. We help them out, pack our own camp and at 07:30 we arrive at the first Wadi, obviously way before opening hour..
A nice aspect about our time in Oman, is that we often encounter travelers we met earlier in Iran. Almost everyone we met decided to enjoy a ‘holiday’ in Oman. Where holiday might sound strange because you could see this whole travel as one big holiday. But while traveling every day there are things to arrange; filling the water tanks, arranging food (hence, searching for a super market, that most of the time sells only a few things so you need at least 3 shops), searching for a camp spot, finding a shop for spare care parts, finding a print shop for visa, arranging internet, packing and unpacking the camp, dishes, finding a laundry, etcetera. And of course all in new surroundings (so getting lost quite often) and with a language barrière. There is rarely is day where we just relax. But hey, we’re definately not complaining: it’s a luxury that we can travel this long and we’re enjoying the ride!
Yesterday we met some German travelers here in the South of Oman. They invited us for a coffee via instagram, so we drove to their camp spot on the beach. We actually planned to go North that day, but the coffee ended up in wine, which ended up in a bbq, which ended up in staying at their camp spot 2 nights and this morning we decided to drive into the desert together for a few days. Nice how plans can change. From the desert, we will drive North towards Dubai where we hope to get our Sudan visa!