I’ve been back in Saudi Arabia for a month already. Time sure flies when you’re inundated with work. So, where to this month? Where can I go so I can relax, do my homework and keep up with meetings? As I found out last year, just about anywhere!
I came across this little nautical adventure while surfing the net. Six hours on a dhow boat cruising the Strait of Hormuz, where the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman meet. To paraphrase that gifted US politician Tina Fey, ummm, I mean Sarah Palin, you can see Iran from here!!! I can’t think of a good reason why I’d ever have to get closer than this either!
We travelled from Dubai to the Omani border where a dhow (type of boat) was waiting for us. From there, we embarked on a spectacular cruise through some of the most breathtaking water and mountain scenery I am ever likely to see. Our guide told us that this was very similar to the fjords in Norway. Now I’ve never been to Norway, nor have I had the pleasure to seeing fjords before. Hell, this is the first time I use the word “fjord” outside of a geography project! While I personally can’t support our guide’s claim, I can certainly tell you Norway must be an incredibly awesome place to visit. I doubt, however, that they have 38C temperature and water so warm it’s like taking a bath. OK…taking an incredibly salty bath. Like I mean SALTY dude!!! They tell me it’s not as salty as the Dead Sea but I’ve been there and I couldn’t tell the difference. If I would have had some vinegar and plain potato chips, I would have been in heaven.
Our guide pointed out 2 or 3 different ‘villages’ where people actually live and thrive. The biggest of these villages has 15 families. Good luck keeping secrets there! The Sultanate of Oman pays for the utilities and the children are taken by boat to school twice a week. They have a residence at the schoold while they are there. It’s amazing to me that these villages have been there for hundreds of years. Since fishing is the only industry, I find it incredible that these families stay put.
The rocks forming the mountains are mesmerizing. Some look like they’ve broken through the earth’s crust and went up at a 90 degree angle. Others look like the heat got to them and started to melt and sag. Every now and then you see a lonely little tree, somehow managing to find enough nutrition while desperately clinging to a crevice in the rock. The scenery boggles the mind when you look out at barren and scorched rock and yet all is surrounded by water.
And…with all that water, you simply must go swimming, or snorkeling. The area isn’t filled with reefs and a wide variety of fish but it was still refreshing to get in there. It gave me an opportunity to try out my new waterproof video camera. Well, it’s waterproof down to 33 feet which, it turns out, was not a problem. I don’t think it was possible for me to go down that deep if I wanted. My butt kept wanting to get back up to the surface and insisted on getting there before my head. Of course I blamed that on the extraordinary saline content of the water. (Just play along!) I put together a video of some of the sights, both above and below water.
What may have been lacking in reefs and fish was more than made up by the dolphins. Pods of playful and energetic dolphins entertained us for a good 15 minutes. Our captain would race the dhow, well he would drive it as fast as it would go, and some of the dolphins would swim in our wake. At one point I was about to jump in and join them with my new camera but was pulled backed. No swimming with the dolphins. I was disappointed but understood.
We were fed on board…and fed quite well. Fresh fruits and drinks (non-alcoholic) were available during the entire cruise and the lunch included rice, chicken, humus, fresh breads, grilled vegetables and a curry of something that was very good. All in all, it was a great way to run away from life and simply lay back and enjoy the scenery and forget your problems for a memorable afternoon.
I hope you enjoy the pictures and video. As always, there are more pictures at my Flickr site. Click here!