Oman – Masirah Island – Hitchhiking

Oman – Masirah Island – Hitchhiking

There I am, on the road in the middle of a desert on Masirah Island in Oman.

What am I doing here? Masirah Island is an hour of Ferry from Shannah, about 100km long and 12km wide. I was hitchhiking (mostly just standing there in some quite deserted area) along the beautiful coast line, starring at the ocean and trying to convince myself not to return swimming as I would never get anywhere if I kept missing the few cars that were driving by, but it’s 40 degrees and the white sand and turquoise water wins, again.

I throw my bag and jump in the warm water. Still refreshing. This time though, is significantly different. A small wooden boat with an old and very questionable motor, approaches with in it a few fishermen. They are coming in my direction. Trying to understand what is going on I’m standing still observing the boat coming. It doesn’t seem to be braking at all! I finally understand that they will crash the boat on the beach and then drag it.

Once it’s done, I swim over to help them push the beached boat further inland. They didn’t quite understand what I was saying when I offered to help, so I just did. We pushed and pushed and finally settled. We went on to doing this kind of greeting without words I guess. Mostly just smiles and nods. This is actually one of my most common short interactions with people who don’t speak any English. We just laugh together at the situation. Not being able to communicate with words open different ways of communication. I’m much more observing what they do trying to decrypt behaviours and anticipate actions.

The boat is full of fish! The fishermen are happy and seems to be proud.  As I’m about to walk away they offer me a heavy plastic bag. In it, 3 big FISH! I try to explain that I’m hitchhiking, sleeping in my tent and would have absolutely no way of cooking and eating these. But like I mentioned before. We couldn’t make it past “Hello” with words so I kindly accept the gift and return on the road.

So here I am, again, on the road, in the middle of a desert, on Masirah Island in Oman with a dripping bag full of fish. If I wasn’t getting any lifts before, I highly doubted being picked up. I started thinking about how a waste this would be and how I could have made a bigger effort trying to refuse the fish with those fishermen. How, by accepting it, I was taking away from their own homes and their own families. Before I start getting any ideas of returning to the beach and looking for these men, a car stops. A few greeting nods and smiles, as usual, but this time the man in the car lends out his hand holding an apple and offers it to me along with a bottle of water. No time to say “Thank you” or maybe “Would you give me a ride?” he is already long gone. I can’t expect people from all corners of the world to know I’m looking for a ride when I have my thumb out on the side of the road.

Rambling on this thoughts, the next car that drives by stops! I got a ride!

They absolutely don’t care of my dripping bag and the smell. I’m back on the road with new strangers. We soon stop at a beach where other Omani people are having a wood fire. We can’t talk but they show me how to skin the fish and cook it. We share the fish given to me earlier that day. We laugh, we eat, and I feel closer to these man than people I can talk with.

On this beach, I can see the constellations moving in an arc as the night pass. The reflection of the fire on the fishermen faces shows hardship but also happiness. I feel that the events of the day chained up well to bring me to that moment.

From swimming, getting caught in a net until the moment I ate my fish, It’s hard to express but the way they came into my possession until they have been shared make me feel of the end of a loop. The end of a cycle I can only glimpse. This feeling last for an instant and I fall asleep thinking of how mysterious life is.

Oman – Muscat – Saturday morning

Oman – Muscat – Saturday morning

Saturday morning, 6am, in Muscat, Oman.
I have just parked my car on top of this small peak.
I have my snorkel and my swimmers on.

The sun is already up in the sky but I’m hoping to see transition between night and day time hunters.

I’m going to the beach.
I need to walk between the valleys for that and then cross a salty plateau.

 

I start my walk, it is so peaceful at this time of the day.
Some rare birds are signalling there presence but nothing else.
I turn around this big boulder on my way and cross an Omani shepherd.
I can’t understand any word he is saying except for « Salam aleikoum, kefalek ? » the translation for « Hello, how are you ? »
He is happy for these few arabic words, he is old but his eyes still are enlighted.
He shows me his goats few meters behind him and the valley around. I understand that they are moving to find better trees somewhere and then he is pointing to the sky so my interpretation is that they are moving to find shade for the goats. After this quick exchanges we leave each other.

I’m now crossing the salty plateau and the temperature is probably already more than 30 degrees celsius. We are in March and this is the end of the winter the cool season. Soon the temperature will raise.

I arrive at the beach and I’m delighted to see that I’m the only one here. I put on my mask and snorkel and start swimming.

This beach is magical to me. Because of the proximity of the corals. After few meters I see the first corals formations. They are really impressive and of every shapes. The diversity of this habitat is impressive. Trumpet fishes swim on the surface around me when coral grouper hide from my shade. In the distance an eagle stingray is still hunter smaller fishes on the surface. And green turtles are grazing on the sea floor. It is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by all this life. Not concerned at all by my presence they leave their life in this shelter the corals represents.

After an hour it is time for me to go back. Feeling extremely peaceful after these encounters of the morning I walk back to the car. When suddenly, while I’m passing the same big boulder where I met the shepherd before, I surprise a baby Oryx, this one is still far but start to run straight to the steep hill on the opposite side of the valley. And with no effort climb it. On top he’s or she’s ? look back in my direction and when see’s that the there is no danger relax and walk again.

What a nice surprise for me. This is the first time that I can observe an Oryx in it’s natural habitat. This morning is really special and make me think that i need to work towards the conservation of wildlife. Because I want to do these encounters over and over. That’s why I will also keep the name and location of this beach for myself.