I’m quite behind in my blog posts due to internet issues, but I think that is all sorted out now, so be expecting quite a bit in the next few days! I’ll start by recapping a desert trip and including some photos from our other short excursions. In the next few days I’ll talk about my trip to Dubai, and in the following post my week-long vacation to Masira Island and Muscat.
One of our trips was to the Bahla fort, one of the largest castles in Oman. I really enjoyed visiting this fort because we were able to explore all of the rooms, and there were quite a few interesting staircases and ladders to climb. In one room I found what appeared to be an old well – I dropped a little rock down it to see how deep it was, and it seemed like over a second before I heard it hit the bottom. I shined my flashlight in, and was greeted by a chirping bat, but luckily it didn’t attack me!
The castle was very haphazardly organized, i.e. there was really no clear way to figure out how to get to one place just from looking at it, but after a lot of searching I found a ladder that took me up to the top of one of the tallest tower in the fort.
We also visited a mountain village after Bahla.
The trip to Bahla was just an afternoon trip if I recall correctly. Our desert trip on February 25-26 was longer. We started that trip with a visit to Jabreen castle, considered one of the most beautiful castles in Oman. I wasn’t able to appreciate it completely though, because I was a little sick from eating an ice cream bar that contained hazelnut chocolate, which I didn’t realize before I ate it (I’m allergic to hazelnuts!).
Since we’re talking about castles and forts, I’ll add a funny anecdote here. In my first few weeks in the program, I learned two new words, the word for castle (حصن, HuSun) and the word for plate (صحن, SaHan). You might be able to see from the Arabic writing, that these words are the same letters but in a different order. When I went to a Syrian restaurant near our apartment, I accidentally asked for a Falafel Castle instead of a Falafel Plate, which the restaurant employees thought was very funny. Sometimes I still get the words confused!
After our visit to the fort we arrived at the desert camp and went dune bashing – one of the men from the camp took us driving very fast over the sand dunes in his truck! It was a lot of fun, quite rough, and a little scary. The camp was nice, especially because we were the only ones there. We had a nice buffet dinner, and sat and talked afterwards. I went out for a walk in the desert by myself at night as well. I think I’m attracted to the desert because there’s no place that’s so quiet and isolated – there were no sounds around me, and almost no life. It was a good place to meditate, although I had to shine my light around every few minutes to make sure there were no scorpions around! The best thing about the desert camp was that I was able to put my mattress on a bed frame outside, and sleep under the stars. I even saw a shooting star.
We got up early in the morning to watch the sunrise. It was a very difficult walk up a few dunes, but it was worth it.
We also visited Wadi Shab, a large river/canyon that I visited last summer in my previous trip. This time, however, I was able to swim to the end of the wadi to see a waterfall inside of a cave! It was beautiful, but of course, I couldn’t take any pictures.
Here are some other photos that I’ve taken over the past few weeks: