Thursday, January 26: This morning we wake up at Christian’s house, where we spent the night after our late night at the Intercontinental in Muscat. He conjures up a sumptuous breakfast of pancakes and eggs and then drives us to the GMC dealer so I can pick up my car. This service is a killer; it’s the major service for 100,000km, and it costs me 240 rials!!! This is the problem with having an American car in Oman. It’s not a common vehicle here, and it’s expensive. I walk away in sticker shock, but at least I won’t have another service like that for another 100,000km!
We go home, and to be honest the boys are not feeling so great after their wild night of dancing and drinking beer. We laze about for a couple of hours, watching continuous episodes of Parks & Recreation and even napping. Finally, around 3:30, we leave for Camp Al Areesh in Sharqiya Sands. I’ve been warning the guys that we must make it to the camp by 5:00 to see the sunset in the desert, but I know that by leaving so late, we probably won’t make it.
The drive is a long one, 2 1/2 hours, and it’s not easy, especially once you get off the Nizwa-Muscat highway. The road to Ibra, and ultimately Sur, beside which Sharqiya Sands sits, is not a good one: two lanes with no shoulder and endless caravans of slow-moving trucks that need to be passed.
Sadly, we arrive at the desert camp after the sun has set. We move into our barasti hut #55, which is the only one left remaining in the entire camp because of a Mitsubishi Pajero group of off-roaders who have taken the camp hostage. We’re on the outer fringes of the camp, but since we don’t plan to hang out in our room, I guess we’ll survive. Adam thinks it hilarious that our hut is #55, as he’s seen a funny YouTube video about that number: Schfifty Five. Here is it for your, uh, enjoyment (??)…. 🙂
We load our stuff into our hut, remove our shoes and walk through the cool sand to the communal tent. I’m always surprised at how refreshing the sand feels once the sun goes down.
We hang outside for a while, looking at the stars and drinking tea, until the buffet is served at 7:30. The food is great, as always, lots of vegetables and rice and fruit and hummus, which the boys love, and even lamb and chicken. I load up on an eggplant vegetable dish that is so delicious I have to go back for more.
After dinner the Bedouin boys sing and bang out rhythms on their drums. Their singing is more like a chant, but that doesn’t stop people from cavorting. Where there is rhythm, there is dance. The mostly Indian Mitsubishi crowd is dancing fluidly and rhythmically, as Indians are known to do (at least in Bollywood movies!). Adam is still in a partying mood after his first clubbing experience last night, so he dances away with the crowd, on and on, even after Alex and I decide to go early to bed; he wanders into our hut after the music stops around 1 a.m.
We don’t set any alarm in the morning but wake with the sun. The breakfast buffet surprisingly doesn’t have any fruit, much to the boys’ disappointment. Next stop: Wadi Bani Khalid for another day of exploring.