A Swimming Operation in the Sultanate of Oman

There are two ways to get to breakfast (bircher/mango muesli, congee (Chinese rice porridge), chickpea/couscous salad, pancakes with a thickened maple sauce, and Omani saffron pancakes with honey, etc.). One is to walk directly towards the group of tables from our room to the right and the other is to walk around the pool area and past the open door with just the sheer curtain closed (talk about feeling safe in the Middle East) though some people felt the need to guard their purse at the table, Caleb and I knew that the birds posed a higher risk of stealing food.

Arabian Monocle Bream

I get to take another walk around the pool while Caleb leaves me locked out of the room while we both move more slowly this morning not certain that we will be diving as the whitecaps (wind + water = choppy chaos) are increasing our chances that the boat won’t want to float in that situation. The shop is concerned about getting us to a new dive site, but I assure them that the closest one is fine if it means less possibility of someone getting seasick or Caleb hurting his neck. I even offered to dive in the marina as I’ve been told some turtles live there and I’ve seen one or two of them.

Arabian Butterflyfish

The first dive spot is a bit rough for the company’s standards but I have no problem enjoying the water and easily getting back onboard. I’ve had more trouble trying to get back on a dinghy in Baja California, Mexico or back onshore in La Jolla, California. Some turtle viewing and tea sipping after the second dive and we’re told that the afternoon is cancelled, whether we planned to go out or not, and we’re ok with that as it will give us time to explore the resort grounds before we leave tomorrow morning. The shop offers to rinse our gear and dry it for us so it’s travel-ready — we agree.

green sea turtle

We get dropped off at the Omani Heritage Village (not one to avoid somewhere due to someone else’s negative review) and quickly realize why the ladies could get upset even though we enjoyed ourselves. The first shop was too hot, the second shop was too smelly, and the third shop was just right (as long as he left the door open) but it seemed the owners wanted to shut us in and limit distractions from their animal trinkets and woven garments and other touristy remembrances of a place.

Indo-Pacific sargeants

It was in that moment I realized that though the Middle East might seem like a large sandbox to some just filled with camels and the people who ride them that through our travels we have noticed the differences and purchased memorabilia accordingly — for Oman that is frankincense and the traditional cap (kuma). Also in the village replica was a small section of their canal (falaj, and aflaj plural) system. Going through a door brought us into a car museum with military jeeps, family classics, and hand-crank start vehicles. There was also a craft room and sports section (trampoline and soccer) for kids with a large outdoor stadium on the other side of the building.

Omani Heritage Village

We meander along walkways and follow employees through parking lots, find some stairs (along with some aubergine and capsicum plants) but can’t find the mini-golf so we decide to read by the pool. My book is about animal competition against other animals and plants in weather extremes and predators amongst their species fighting to spread their genes and killing others to avoid being extinguished themselves.

Al Bandar lobby

Someone has secretly been bringing apples to our room, obviously room service, and we’ve been bringing back bananas from lunch and some bread from last night so I grab that to snack on while waiting two more hours for dinner to open at Chow Mee. My dinner will include stuffed tofu which is fancier than it sounds as it’s just carrots, sprouts, and green onions shoved into a wedge of coagulated and pressed bean curd which is still delicious and saved me room for pandan (that sweet green grass used in bread that I had in Singapore) crepes. They were fluffy but also stuffed with coconut covered in muscovado sugar which stole the flavor show.

Dinner was nothing to complain about though and I forgot we had plans to get some more night shots around the resort but what we hadn’t realized was just how rough the seas were today and how tiring that is when your whole body is at once going with the flow and then avoiding it and repeating this constantly for an hour at a time to get as close to sea life as possible without destroying it while also trying to look out into the blurry distance in the hopes of seeing another turtle or shark. Caleb wins the race to get under the sheets first but unlike him, I don’t pretend to read before falling asleep when other couples are just sitting down to their evening reservations.

This entry was posted in Animals, Books, Food, History, Plants, Water and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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