Sunday 8 November 2009

Oman: the missing drinks cabinet

Ras Al Jinz visitor centreWhile the chaps snorked and toasted, I went to see the Ras Al Jinz visitor centre as Neil had mentioned that last night’s trip was ‘well organised’. Never heard anyone say that about the turtle experience before.

Having always driven to the site at night while it was under construction, it was interesting to see the completed structure for the first time in daylight. Judging by the bunker-like appearance of the back of the building from the approach road, the architects must have put most of their effort into the front of the building facing the sea. The inside is certainly very smart, although I’m not sure why they needed to include hotel rooms and a posh restaurant. As I wandered around the empty building, I noticed the look of concern on the face of the Omani lady sitting in front of a complicated European-style coffee machine. Clearly afraid someone might ask her to operate the device, I teased her by circling the area a few times.

Driving away from the centre, I picked up a crusty old gentleman (father of 10) who wanted a lift to Ras Al Hadd from where I continued to the beach. I found the old airfield and drove along the tarmac to the end of the runway where a group of fishermen were wrestling with nets under a large sheet of blue billowing plastic.Ras Al Hadd fort

On the way back to the Turtle Beach Resort, I popped into the Ras Al Hadd fort which looks like a very neat sandcastle. I was invited for coffee and dates by four Omanis sitting on the floor in the entrance. I introduced the subject of the new airport and didn’t need to express my concerns at the impact of the new development as they got there before me – they didn’t want it. Let’s hope turtle preservation is not being managed by the same people in charge of Oman’s Oryx sanctuary.

When I returned to the chaps, I was informed that Neil has been involved in a major jellyfish attack. It was lucky he came out alive. Luckily, Mrs M Tours is prepared for such eventualities. With the cars packed we drove to Tiwi stopping in Sur for some gristly meat for the barbecue.

Before we could establish camp on Fins beach, we had to clear the rubbish left by DIRTY FILTHY PEOPLE. Three dustbin bags, lunch, four tents and a car full of wood later, another crisis was brewing. While emptying the cars, it was noticeable that the drinks cabinet was missing. Repeated searches in the same places by Simon revealed our desperation. It was last seen at the desert camp where we concluded (although highly unusual), it must have been half-inched. We counted the remaining beers. We recounted the remaining beers.

Under strict rationing, we consumed chewy meat and salty halloumi. Thankfully the smores rescued the evening which faded away until snuffling emanated from someone’s tent.

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