To the Lebanese cafe for breakfast. “No coffee, so sorry”.. OK so back to the juices then and omelette with a little cheese, lots of sliced tomato and cucumber, various pickles and a huge stack of flatbread which we snaffled for lunch. The rental agency delivered our four wheel drive and we went to Carrefour. As you do in Oman. It was the most pristine, gleaming shopping mall In The World. Not a thing out of place and a man on a ride-on floor cleaner following us down the aisles. There were apples from Iran and rambutan from Thailand and we bought both, along with a coolbag’s worth of other bits and pieces and then we were finally off to the mountains. The motorway followed the coast from a distance, through low-rise suburbs and scrub. Occasionally we saw camels in fenced compounds. Slowly the busy Muscat traffic peeled away and after a couple of missed turns and next-exit u-turns we angled away from the invisible sea towards the misty outline of the mountains.
Nakhal marks the point where the mountains start. Its big fort has been renovated and looks like a set from the Arabian Knights.
For a pound each we had the run of the place, with just a handful of other tourists around. Tom was straight up the precarious ladder into a lookout tower.
We also found the jail with a set of stocks in it, and the date storage room and the men’s quarters placed at the side of the fort that takes advantage of the prevailing breezes. The women’s quarters took advantage of the prevailing heat…
It all smelt of clay and stone dust. Ancient rifles had been hung around the mud walls. It felt like we had finally arrived in Oman.
Leaving Nakhal, the smooth curving tarmac got narrower and narrower, then became concrete, then dirt. Then it got steeper. And steeper; threading through dips in the rocky ridges and skirting the cliff which fell away beside us.
The sat nav guided us all the way here to Bait Bimmah and dinner is served in fifteen minutes. As we recline, a large bat is picking off the moths over our heads.