Monday 26 March 2007

Oman: one tent short in Tiwi

We worked our way through a toast mountain before our pre-booked boat trip. The small fishing boat had been specially adapted with plastic garden chairs feebly fastened with miscellaneous bits of string and wire. The strength and security of this arrangement was of little consequence as the boat could not go much faster than walking pace due to an engine problem. Using international gesturing language, Al asked for a bit more speed but the resulting nasty smell of burning from the engine suggested otherwise.

At midday we headed west along the coast to our final destination of Tiwi, jiggling around the new road construction and wadi debris from the recent storm. Just after Wadi Tiwi we stopped at a potential camp site to find what looked like florescent orange paint in the surf. Some form of marine algae apparently. Nonetheless, we continued our quest for the ideal spot a few minutes further west. On arrival we unpacked the essentials and tucked into the tasty packed lunches provided by the hotel. They had even included two bottles of sauce with the food.

With camp struck, Al and I wandered the beaches in search of firewood, which was not difficult following the recent storms. After a brief chill on the beach, Al decided to do a spot of fishing. Armed with chunks of leftover tuna and fresh marinated chicken, he headed to the rocks and almost immediately had a bite. Not surprising really as the sea was boiling with fish and turtles occasionally poking their leathery heads above water. Despite vast years of fishing experience, he was immediately racked with guilt and we spent several minutes trying to remove the hook by wrapping the spiny creature in my tee-shirt. The unusual stance the creature adopted when back in the water suggested it may not have made it.

With sunset approaching, Boy Scout skills were required to start the fire with brushwood and a roaring centrepiece was soon casting its cosy orange glow over happy campers. The space-saving single-use barbeques just about did their job but the flimsy paper plates had to be doubled or trebled to cope with the volume of food, albeit for a very short time.

While we relaxed in the warm night air, we debated potential some of the hazards that Al might encounter sleeping outside as, despite superb planning for the three days, mother had forgotten his tent. Would he be pleasured by Roger the donkey, eaten by scorpions or spiders, or simply nibbled by the thousand insect buzzing around the lamp? His only protection was a barrier of protective camping chairs and insect repellent. We wished him luck as we zipped up our tents.

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