Wednesday, November 17, 2010
At world's end
Now for a few details and pictures of our trip.
Remember how I said that obstacles like the UAE-Oman border crossing could very well throw a wrench in our trip plans? Well, we came very close to turning around (or being turned around) a few times. First, we failed to get an exit stamp on our way out of the UAE. But we didn't realize our mistake until we got all the way to the Oman side and waited in line for forever. So we had to drive back to the UAE, get the precious exit stamp, and turn back around. The funny thing was that none of the officials we encountered along the way were at all surprised by what we were doing, which tells me that this kind of "mistake" happens A LOT. So in our defense, UAE, you might want to think about putting up some signs telling people that they have to stop at the nondescript hut on the hillside at the barely marked border station and pick up an exit stamp.
Anyway, then there was some confusion about our car insurance and whether it did or did not include Oman. By the time we got that straightened out with the Omani officials, Magdalena had used (or attempted to use) the disgusting border station potties approximately ten times and I was the one who got to do the honors of taking her each and every time. Bless her heart. Really. Even as grossed out as I was, I was so glad she was giving potty training her best.
On to the substance of our trip: camping. If you're in the right areas, you need never pay for lodging in Oman. Instead, you just drive off the road and explore until you find a spot where you want to camp. Since it's not an official campsite, there isn't any running water or toilets or showers or picnic tables or fire pits but hey, it's free. Here's the view from our first campsite near the village of Tiwi.
In the morning we explored two wadis: Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi. The first one you have to hike through. We took our time (especially because of the girls) and swam in one of the natural pools.
After a while, the trail got to be a little treacherous for small children. We had to choose between swimming across a large pool of indeterminate depth, or taking the trail high up on the cliff, just skirting the edge. Instead, we chose to turn around and head for Wadi Tiwi.
Wadi Tiwi reminded me of an atmosphere a fancy hotel (in Dubai, say) would recreate in its pool area. Palm trees, dramatic cliffs, and emerald green pools.
Look at this picture:
The whole time we were in Oman, we enjoyed driving through numerous small villages and wishing everyone (and being wished) a very Eid Mubarak. The villagers were out and about, dressed in their finest.
Obviously we loved our trip to Oman. The best part is that next time will be even more awesome because now we know our way around a bit. And it was so cheap! The only thing we spent money on were our entrance visas, gasoline, and some snacks to shore up the food we brought from home when our supply dwindled. Cheapest international vacation ever.
And I promise that after this post I will shut up about my BFF Oman already. Thanks for reading!