Ras al Jinz prides itself on being the first place in the Middle East to see the sun rise, due to it being at the easternmost point of the easternmost country in the region. The hotel offers the option of a 5am trip back to the beach to look for turtles and watch the sun come up and we had sort of decided to do it. But last night Hamid said at this time of year they really don’t see anything in the morning and it’s more of a sunrise watch, which frankly was a big relief as it meant we could all have a lie in. That said, P and I were awake at six anyway while the teen slept on.
Lots of people left early but we lingered over breakfast and had a stroll around the turtle museum – which was terrific. There were many Facts: loggerhead turtles can dive a thousand meters down (which is really quite a lot), the oldest frankincense burner found in Oman is 4200 years old, and Native Americans have the same beliefs about a turtle carrying the world on its back as many Asian cultures which makes ethnographers believe it’s a very ancient tradition which crossed to America when there was a land bridge. The only jarring note was a largish bowl of water containing four hatchlings swimming about. They should really have been in the sea, a point made by several people in the visitors book.
But Ras al Jinz overall? We liked it and it seemed a good way to fund turtle conservation while letting us tourists get our snaps and at the same time limiting the impact on the nesting sites. If you are up for fifty degree (C) temps, the summer is the best time to go when the beach is full of turtles.
On to Sur.
It has the last boatyard still making dhows and there were a couple under construction when we got there. It is all done by eye apparently, with no pre-cut parts and no blueprint, just tradition.
These days though, much of the work is done by Indian boatbuilders. We saw several at work, trimming” long beams with an adze, and shinning up a high spar to tension a rope. The boatyard was a well worn place with bits of wood stacked up and dogs sleeping in the shade.
We wandered through and no-one seemed to mind. A prosperous looking Omani with silver hair greeted us and we chatted briefly about what we’d seen. He hoped we enjoyed Oman. We do.
Around the corner from the boatyard is the last big fishing dhow made by the boatyard in 1951, supposedly the same type of vessel used by Vasco de Gama. It was bought by a Yemeni sea captain and then a local boy made good bought it back and the people of Sur raised the money to build a little park for it, where it is now beached. If Sinbad had a boat, this would be it. Actually Sinbad supposedly came from Sur so who knows. It was a handsome and exotic looking thing and it would have been lovely to have a look inside it but it was display only.
We tooled about in Sur looking for fresh juice, but settled for ice cream instead, and after picking up picnic stuff we carried on towards Muscat and the Wadi Bani Awf.
The Bradt guide book says if you see one Wadi in Oman, see this one. The book is wrong. Yesterday’s wadi is the hands down winner. This one involved a little boat trip across the water to get to the path and then a good, if bakingly hot, walk through a handsome gorge but there were too many people and too much pipework and lumps of concrete about the place.
It was good to see but the swimming wasn’t a patch on yesterday’s wadi. We’ve been in Oman long enough now that we are fussy about wadis…
After a picnic and a swim it was four o’clock, and we had a three K walk out and a boat trip to do, then we had to go further up the coast to find a place to camp, and it would be dark in two hours. So we hustled back through the gorge, onto the little boat to cross the water and away. We are now on the rocky headland along from Fins. The tent is up, the supper is finished, the surf is crashing on a little beach next to us, the moon is out and I’m writing this. But not for much longer…