Road Trippin’ It
Day 6: Ninjas in a Half-Shell. Turtle Power!
The next four days are going to be our road trip days. Oman has so many outdoorsy things to offer, that we needed to move from spot to spot. Here is a map of Northern Oman, and the stars are the places we stopped at (or planned to stop at).
The first stop we made was at Ras al Jinz (number 2 on the map). Oman has one of the largest Green Turtle nesting sites in the world in their Turtle Reserve. The hotel we stayed at is the only way to watch the turtles lay their eggs and/or hatch. The beach is closed off to the public, and there are laws put into place by Sultan Qaboos that prohibits beach access unless you are part of a guided tour. The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Beach Reserve Hotel was our way in, and it was amazing. First we checked in, and the boys were excited when they walked into the room to find this…
The turtles only come to shore at night, so we had to wait. The tours start at 8:00 PM, which meant we needed to kill some time. Luckily, there was a Turtle Museum there to help us out. The museum was very… informative. One of the first videos we came across was about turtle preservation, and it was a bit graphic. They showed turtles caught in nets, turtles with fishing hooks in their mouth, and even turtles caught in coke can plastic rings. It was difficult for me to watch, and it really impacted Hunter. Ever since, he has been very concerned about how to keep turtles safe. Hunter even asked the tour guide how to save turtles in the middle of our tour (I raise sweet kids… no big deal). Once we got past that part, there were lots of cool facts and pictures. We even came across turtle bones!
Yes, that is how big the turtles were. Even Austin said, “holy shit, that is a big turtle” (okay, maybe he didn’t, but it is totally what he was thinking).
After the museum it was turtle time. In groups of 25 we walked from the hotel to the beach, which took about 15 minutes. Because we were there during the slow season there were only two turtles, but I am not complaining. They… were… awesome! The female turtles dig a hole about 3 feet deep, lay their eggs in the hole, bury their eggs, and then skooch their 300 pound asses back to the ocean. The whole process is around 2 hours long. When we got to the beach, the first turtle was burring her eggs. Mason loved it, and was laughing because, while the turtle was using her fins to push sand over the eggs, he was getting sprayed with sand (yes, we were that freakin close to these massive creatures). We watched her for about 10 minutes before we moved on to the next turtle.
The second turtle decided that she didn’t like the hole she started digging, and to our benefit, we got to watch her go back out to sea. Now, this sounds like a very simple task, but it wasn’t. It took her about 15 minutes to get back to the ocean. These turtles are huge and heavy. Their flippers are not made for walking, so she was using her flippers to drag her heavy body through the sand. I’ve tried pushing a stroller in the sand (an impossible task), so I can only imagine the amount of energy needed to drag 300 pounds in the sand. Watching as she struggled to get to the water, then seeing the ease of movement the moment the ocean’s undertow caught her was cool. She was off and FAST. I still think Wadi Shab was the coolest thing I’ve done so far, but this is a close second. Hunter now says he knows everything about turtles, and he hasn’t been about to stop talking about them. He can explain the whole process quite accurately. The entire family (even Austin) enjoyed watching the turtles.
Day 7: Ant Inn
The next morning we packed up and started our journey to Nizwa (number 3 on the map). This trip took ALL DAY. We were in the car for at least 6 hours. When we got there we went directly to a park to let the boys unwind a bit. About 30 minutes into the park trip we had to get going because it was starting to storm. Here is the view from Nizwa.
So beautiful! We went back to the hotel, and waited for Bookie to check in…
Hunter loves to get his picture taken. It is actually pretty
We will skip the description of the hotel, and pretend it was the classiest, most elegant place I have ever stayed. We are also going to pretend that there wasn’t an ant issue, and that I didn’t refuse to shower because the water smelled so gross. While we are at it, we are also going to pretend that there is world peace, and that Trump didn’t do as well as he did on Super Tuesday. Imagine Land is a beautiful place, isn’t it. Seriously though, the hotel was gross, but it is part of the experience. If we only stayed in five-star hotels I don’t think we would be capturing the whole picture. That being said, if you ever visit Nizwa, stay in The Golden Tulip. It may be a bit of a drive into Nizwa, but it is worth it!!
Day 8: Mountain of the Sun
Once we woke up in the morning we IMMEDIATELY left the hotel to begin exploring. Nizwa has an old souq, a fort, and the oldest falaj (aqueduct) in the country. Nizwa Souq is my favorite souq so far. It was so traditional and it had a lot of charm to it. Look!
The picture of the man above the arch is Sultan Qaboos.
And then there are these bad boys…
… and yes, we bought some. They are salt and pepper shakers!
We also got two clay pots for 5 Omani Rial (about $13).
Then we move on to the fort, which Hunter and Mason both loved. They enjoyed walking through all the rooms, and coming up with what the room was used for. There were also a lot of stairs for Mason to climb, which made him very happy.
I wish I had more pictures of the fort to post, but none of them came out. The fort was really cool, and really well preserved (or newly remodeled). After we were done exploring the Fort we got back into the car and went to Jebel Shams.
Jebel Shams is translated to “Mountain of the Sun” in Arabic, and is the tallest mountain in Oman. We stayed at the Jebel Shams Resort, which is on top of the mountain over looking a beautiful mountainous view. I’m not going to even attempt to do it justice describing it.
On the way up the mountain there were a lot of cool small villages. These old houses were pretty cool
While driving up the mountain we saw a ton of goats, and man can those suckers climb. We even saw one in a tree. The kids were really excited about seeing them.
It was a 45 minute drive to the top, and the last 10-15 was on unpaved roads, so Bookie got to go 4WDing. The boys loved it. Austin was laughing while in his car seat every time we went over a large bump. As soon as we got to the top we pulled over to take a picture. Look at how amazing this place is!
The Omanis call it the Grand Canyon of the Middle East. It isn’t as grand as the Grand Canyon, but it is beautiful.
As we were appreciating the view, a woman from a local village came up to us and sold us bracelets.
A little later that day (after checking into the resort) we found the woman’s village.
Their village was at the starting point of a trail that went down to Wadi Ghul (pronounced “Gool”) (a 4 hour hike both ways… we didn’t have enough time to do it, but is sounded beautiful). Instead, we just took a ton of pictures (this time, everyone kept it in their pants).
We went back to our room, and we were so disappointed with the view…
The boys played a little bit of soccer on the top of the mountain (don’t worry, it was safe… ish)
I live such a terrible, rough life.
Day 9: A Whole lot of Driving
Today was not very exciting. We drove back to Muscat, and stayed the night with a really great family. The boys were so excited to be back in a real house with real friends. It was cute. As soon as we got to the house they spent about an hour sitting and playing with toys. After a good meal, a good bath, and a good night of sleep the adults enjoyed fantastic Indian food.
The next morning, we woke up, drove to the airport, and were off to the next country. To be continued…