Saving Others in the Sultanate of Oman

Silly me to think I’d have all the same foods to choose from the breakfast buffet. We woke up earlier this morning just so that I’d have more time to get a second plate, but I still got the Waldorf salad — just apples, sambar rice without veggies or soup, and a grilled tomato. It’s amazing the variety of color in my diet when someone else does all the prep work — and this is healthier than filling up on sugar cookies with tea.

look for the octopus
picking up plastic

The shuttle is called and I get in and scoot over to make room for my husband when the boy with peach fuzz on his upper lip named Bart almost takes out my hand in a rush to sit next to me. I smile as I can hear Caleb and the boy’s mom laughing behind me. She’s about the size of her daughter and they were cold on yesterday’s ride so they asked the shop about sweaters. There weren’t any in Caleb’s size so I took one that will now be my designated dive hoodie and he can appreciate it on me.

Caleb and I watched an octopus climb under a large rock and instead of coming out of hiding to entertain the tourists he began to pull another rock in the hole he entered as more protection and camouflage. Back on board, I will learn a lesson about sitting next to my gear. I thought I saw this guy’s ass crack swallow my spare regulator (also called octopus), but luckily I was still seeing its bright yellow because it was turned the other way safely towards my BCD, but not something I want to risk thinking about the next time it goes near my mouth.

blacktip reef shark

That same guy would later hit my knee with his set up as he had trouble getting in and out of his gear every time. It makes sense why he was in search of fins so desperately asking each person about the perks of theirs (and being offered to try different ones, which I hadn’t thought of, just been exposed to) and so surprised at our enthusiasm for diving as much as weather and company would allow in our time here, though I could’ve squeezed in a few more minutes each dive had I known they weren’t setting a timer, as we still had plenty of air.

Our second dive started with spotting the blacktip reef shark that quickly became a blur. They are about five feet long and no more than 30 pounds and though they attack one wading person every five years they’re on the Near-Threatened list for their meat, oil, and fins from being fished off the coasts of India and Thailand. It was such a beautiful dive full of clownfish in their anemones, sea cucumbers on the sand, shellfish in cracks, pufferfish floating, boxfish eating, lionfish hiding, a crown-of-thorns starfish, white peppered moray eel, and small pipefish (in the seahorse family).

We swam over and through some large rocks and I saw a large fishing net strangling coral, but Caleb said it was too much and illegal to disturb the environment (which I would leave alone if the rope had growth) but I saw a happy eel and some swimming fish so we kept on moving until I saw a crab tangled in another pile who just happened to be next to a lionfish and urchin (both with pointy dangerous parts) and I had to hold the rope to stay steady enough to use my tiny blunt-tipped knife for the first time. Caleb held the crab who seemed to cooperate at first as there was so much netting around his eight legs and got more frightened as he got more freedom, so I let him hold my knife handle while we worked off more with our fingers.

marbled rock crab

That took up some of our dive time, about ten minutes at least, so we decided to turn around and wouldn’t you know it… that fishing net that we had passed earlier had captured a victim in the time it took us to release the crab. This time it was a broomtail wrasse and he was already cut deep which made me want to cry more but I was so angry at the situation and wanted to stay and cut it all away (even if it meant switching tanks underwater) but I left the fish hiding under a rock and passed a turtle on the way back to the boat. I can’t help but wonder which animal will be next.

There is a crab taking advantage of his picnic in the sea on the next dock over when we return to drop the others off and have a box lunch with a slider in place of the delicious mini everything bagel (should’ve left the chef a note) that I was looking forward to. With not as much time to explore, we will take to the yacht side of the marina and have a peek at the outside of these million-dollar crafts with monthly payments that cost as much as I can afford on a new car (on a 15-year loan).

Mich asks if we want a guide for the afternoon as we will have the boat to ourselves. I offer that he can join us, but he’s not getting in unless he’s getting paid (those are the rules). We see some purple tang, pennant coralfish, big booty starfish (pin cushion sea star), Indo-Pacific sargeant fish, hard and soft coral, fish that like to rest in the sand in groups and then Caleb swims up to show me the picture he just took of my fins and a sea turtle. I’m happy that he got to see what I swam over on this low visibility and high surge dive.

scorpion fish

With no other divers back at the shop we take off on foot to enjoy the afternoon walking by perfectly trimmed hedges and through the one-lane tunnel with a 90-second red light for cars and a separate space for pedestrians (which makes me wonder about the footprints on the inches of dirt available, possibly just to avoid the stairs). The shop rinses our gear and keeps it overnight, but they don’t charge our batteries (so it’s a good thing Caleb brought a power bank since we forgot last night) and left the GoPro tonight so we will take the shuttle back.

jewel moray eel

Four women join us on the bus — two for the Omani Heritage Village (that they weren’t impressed with) and two for the #BajOman sign near the marina though they were told they weren’t allowed in — which I understand with the super expensive yachts and dive boats why the hotel would want to limit liability. I was going to wait on the bus but offered to take a picture from every angle for both of them and individually. I also asked the bus driver to stop at the top of the hill so they could get a few more. We pick up the other two on our return to the hotel.

Trying to ask questions at the front desk can seem pointless as though the hotel’s website lists all the languages spoken at the resort it doesn’t claim that all of them will be understood by different staff and that’s reasonable, but it doesn’t stop me from trying as we got spoiled when we arrived. People come with individual strengths and knowing when to keep my mouth to myself is not one of mine. I just wanted to make sure that I was enjoying my stay to the fullest (though I didn’t know what that meant), but that’s for another day.

big booty starfish (pin cushion sea star)

We will have dinner at Samba because it’s the closest restaurant with outdoor seating and has veggie options. I get the lentil soup and hummus with pita. Caleb gets the nachos grande and I’m grateful I don’t have to help him attack an American size portion as perhaps the name just refers to the large blue corn chips under some cheese and salsa. My soup feels watered down and no fresh green apple juice for dinner because they need it on the breakfast buffet. Life could be worse and I’m on vacation so I’ll leave the ridiculous complaints to others on Travelocity.

green sea turtle

Our after-dinner walk will take us to Al Bandar to gander at the restaurant lights and different perspective of the sea and resort. There is a real gingerbread house that I would fit in with employees selling Santas, yule logs, mince pies, cylinders of cookies, and other holiday-themed treats. We walk into a shop and lucky for me the man tries to sell us both scarves — pashmina for me and cashmere for Caleb. It was fun trying them on but I already have a collection.

life-size gingerbread house

There’s a small art display upstairs, a carpet seller that must be napping (as they usually very eagerly approach a could-be customer), and a shop selling swimsuits. We take a detour back to the room by walking by the delivery entrance. Just because we’re diving doesn’t mean I can disappoint my activity tracker which will be easier to please in about seven years when I’m able to upgrade my dive computer to account for all the fin kicks under the sea.

We haven’t owned a TV in at least a decade (not to say that our Bahrain villas don’t come with one in each room, whether they’re hooked up or not) and sold our unused projector (or maybe gave it away because of a spare bulb issue) years ago, but we used to enjoy our raunchy, depraved, mindless moments in front of a set in a hotel room while traveling and I guess we’re growing up as that time is now spent reading if I’m not writing or falling asleep first.

This entry was posted in Animals, Food, GoPro, Holidays, People, Plants, Water and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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