Sandra is up before dawn, keen on enjoying the sunrise. She starts fumbling in her tent and wakes up Skye who is sleeping with Ryo in the second tent. Skye yells out “it’s still an hour before sunrise!” but crawls out of bed anyway. Ryo is still sleeping fast, so Skye and Sandra set off for a walk along the wadi river bed. The light is beautiful, there are interesting birds about and lots of animal tracks in the sand such as gazelle-like hoof marks around a water hole.
We then enjoy a breakfast of croissants (and not that bad either!) with passion fruit jam, dates, apples, exotic juices and tea before breaking camp and hauling everything back over the rocks to our 4WD a ways up the track.
Back on the paved road in Ash Shuwaymiyah we meet fishermen while checking on the flamingoes. One is from Kerala in India and two from Bangladesh. Basically the entire Omani workforce is from the Indian subcontinent, which suits us fine because it means good curries are to be found here! The chaps are happy to chat and say Shuwaymiyah is a good place to be.
We retrace our steps from yesterday (because the coast road is the only road), but this time we are not pressured by the threat of sunset and stop to enjoy the sights on our way. We stop at an oasis by a wadi where Ryo skips stones, and just outside Hasik we admire a really strange waterfall coming down the limestone cliff which creates strange curtain-like structures. We fill up with gas ($0.36 a litre!) and are out of water so Skye heads into the dusty unpaved town and finds a friendly Indian chap in a little shop/restaurant/sanitary-nightmare to replenish our stock.
At lunch time we stop on a beach in the shade of the only tree on the entire coast and reheat our rice leftovers from our camping meal. We wolf down enough dates to feed a Bedouin tribe for a week and get back on the road. We arrive in Mirbat just 15 minutes before closing time for the lovely old fort, perfectly renovated. In Khor Rori we discover the ruins of an ancient city dating before the Muslim times (1BC to 3AC) which was a key port for the frankincence trade and visit the small museum. The archeological site is set in a gorgeous and lush wadi estuary were camels drink happily and is teeming with birds, so Skye gets his fill of birding much to Ryo’s dismay (can we go now, Dad??!!).
We make a quick drive to the popular Wadi Darbat but it’s bone-dry at this time of the year and the “warning don’t swim, treacherous currents!” sign amusingly overlooks a dry dusty watercourse where a veiled Bedouin woman is herding her goats.
Back at the Juweira, we are given a room on the ground floor. The ground floor rooms have no view so Skye asks if they really don’t have another room on an upper floor, but they are fully booked. But we are in for a surprise: in fact they had to upgrade us to a suite because they’re full up! It’s luxurious, with a bathroom the size of a ballroom and Sandra jumps right away in the superb bathtub.
Once we are all refreshed, Sandra deals with all our camping gear: i.e. dishwashing and laudry. It looks like a Bedouin tribe has settled in the suite, and she remarks we’re probably the only guests of this suite to have washed dishes in the tub. The Legons have a strange sense of luxury.
We then hit the pool and bar for beer and Margaritas before supper, and tomorrow we head west close to the Yemen border!