We leave the city of Muscat Oman today in three comfortable Toyota SUVs along the coast of Oman. Our final destination is Ras al Jinz, famous for its Green Sea Turtle nests but we have some stops along the way.
First stop is at a sinkhole – Bimmah Sinkhole. I have many sinkholes back home so I am familiar with the concept but I guess they are rare here and this one is close to the ocean. It is formed from a depression or collapse of the limestone. A lake of sorts has formed and the sea water mixes with fresh water. The water level changes with the tides. It is a refreshing place to dip your feet in the water, or swim as we saw others do. Just a warning that your toes might be fish food. I had many little fish nibbling on my toes as I walked in.
Next stop is to the village of Wadi Tiwi (We kept hearing it pronounced Waditouille like the movie with the cooking rat). Our guide and one of our other drivers is from this area. Even though we are close to the coast it is desert-like. Wadi Tiwi is very green since it is in the valley between the mountains. We are in a very charming village with lots of fruit trees; in fact the big crop here is dates. We visit a date farm and talk with the farmer about his farming practices. Our guide shows us how they sometimes have to manually pollinate the dates because there are not enough pollinators. They talk about how all of the date tree is used. Some of the mesh like material is used to make rope; we are given a demonstration. The branches and palm leaves themselves are used to build shelter to hide from the harsh sun. Afterward they give us some Omani tea and some thin samosas for a snack; I especially enjoy the cheese ones. We take a long walk down hill to see the town at a slower pace. As we walk many SUV loads of children passed us by. They are coming home from school. Instead of school buses, they travel in style by SUV.
We eventually get to our destination for the evening. If you remember I wasn’t too happy with our last hotel. Apparently neither was any of my travel companions. In fact, of my not so great room it appears I had the best of the rooms. We are all very curious about our next hotel choice. We are pleasantly surprised when we end up at a seaside resort. It is nice and clean. We are on the beach and there is a nice pool to take a dip. The rooms are designed like shacks but inside are decorated like comfortable tents. We are all very pleased with this hotel choice.
We get a break and some of us sneak off to take a dip in the ocean. There are loads of dead puffer fish on the beach and floating in the water; no other fish but the puffer fish. We all blow it off and get in the water anyway. It seems to be fine.
We meet for a nice dinner buffet at the hotel and then we are off to see nesting sea turtles. It is not always guaranteed a turtle will be nesting but we try our luck anyway. It is a popular night and there is a large crowd waiting already. They only let a few observe at a time when the female is laying eggs so we have a very long wait ahead of us. Finally around 10:00 PM our group is called and we head out what seems about 1km toward the sea (hard to tell the distance for sure since I am very tired at this point). I almost regret coming because the wait is so long. When I finally see the large turtle I am glad I came.
She has already laid all her eggs for the evening and now is covering up the holes and creating the diversion holes. More people can observe her now since the tricky part is done. She seems tired. It seems like a good amount of work to bury those eggs.
After we see a newly hatched turtle. It follows the guides light into the ocean. They tell us that only 2-3 baby turtles of 1000 eggs actually make it. There are so many predators and some get confused and cannot find their way to the ocean.
I am so incredibly tired by the time we finally make the walk back to the visitor center. I felt almost like I am sleep walking back. The moon is full so our path is well lit. It seems like the center never gets closer until it finally does. When I arrive I realize that half our group was split up into another group that is still out observing. I am sad we still need to wait around for them.
I can already tell tomorrow is going to be tough because I am not getting a full night sleep tonight. I hope I don’t regret this turtle outing.