Good Times / Study Abroad / Tourism / Travel

(Belated) Throwback Thursday: Bimmah Sinkhole and Ras al Jinz, Oman!

Bet you thought I forgot about this, didn’t you?

Nope! Just had a few issues getting pictures to upload last night so I had to postpone the posting until today. So sorry about that. Anyway, here we go! (As always, enlarge the photos, they look so much better that way!)

Whilst in Oman this summer studying Arabic, I had a few opportunities to go on program-run trips around Oman. The big one that was pulled together for us by out amaaaazing coordinator, Stephanie, was one that took us down the Omani coast a bit past Sur to Ras al Jinz, temporary home to hundreds of egg-layin’ momma seaturtles. The turtles come lay their eggs for a large portion of the year, most of which hatch in August I believe.

This, of course, means that our group didn’t get to see any precious little baby sea turtles scuttling along out to sea. However, watching the mothers dig holes in which to lay their eggs, then cover them up and shuffle off again, was still pretty intriguing (if not somewhat slow-paced.)

Our trip didn’t start there, however! On our way down, our bus stopped at Bimmah Sinkhole, one of Oman’s many natural wonders. This sinkhole is fairly deep and filled with pristine, beautiful (yet salty) turquoise waters that are a reasonably warm temperature. It’s more or less used strictly by tourists, so bathing suits are alright, although we were all cautious to be respectful and cover up at least with tshirts anyways. The sinkhole was amazing-there are even those itty bitty fish that like to nibble the dead skin off of your feet, it simultaneously tickles and feels great!

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The rocks around the water, however, were fairly scalding hot.

After that it was onwards to turtle town. Half of the program had gone the week before (we have limited bus room, the resort has limited housing) so I already somewhat knew what to expect, but really…I couldn’t even imagine. The reserve has a resort so that you may stay on site, and rather than stay in the hotel proper we opted for the eco tents…which were actually my first real lesson in glamping. That’s right. Glamorous camping. Why? Because our room looked like this, that’s why:

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Does anyone else see the tea and coffee service? Anyone?

I mean seriously. SERIOUSLY. I was staying in a beautifully decorated tent with a tv, comfy bed, and a shower! Love it.

During the evening, before we could eat iftaar since many of us were partaking in the fasting for Ramadan, we all took a stroll down to the actual turtle beach. The turtles only come late at night, so we weren’t disturbing anyone. The beach is strewn with gigantic boulders from the crumbling cliffs behind, and while we were there everything was bathed in the loveliest golden and pink light from the sunset. I took a thousand photos, I swear, many just of the enormous waves crashing on the beach as the tide came in (and of the little critters I found along the walk). I ‘ll just take a moment to post them all here:

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Yes. I realize this is a photo of just water. Roll with it, kids.

 

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My attempt to show the mammoth boulders and cliffs properly, but still doesn’t do them justice. The cliffs soared even further above what my camera could show.

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Edging out to sea…

In any case, after that it was iftaar, and then we waited around a few hours until it was properly dark, and made the long walk back down to the beach to see the mother turtles beginning to carve out their nests in the sand. It’s a slow process. To be sure as to not scare them away, we had to approach from and stay behind the turtles, and our guides used little red lights rather than bright ones so to prevent confusion for them as well. Nice and ecological, gotta love it. After our first viewing we returned to bed for a few brief hours of sleep…and then, around 3, we got up, had suhoor (breakfast before dawn during Ramadan) and at 4 AM sleepily trudged back out to the beach where dozens more turtles had gathered and were covering their nests and, as the sun slowly rose, made their way back out to the ocean.

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Her work here is done. She’ll never see her little turtle babies, but she’s buried and covered them well, so hopefully some will be strong survivors and make it out to sea in a few months!

I really can’y express how beautiful that sunrise was. The waves slowly began rolling in closer and closer as the sky went from black, to a soft grey, to a vibrant pink. The views on that beach were just incredible, as behind it is just a gigantic flat plain between some small mountains/cliffs. The stars were amazing too…unfortunately, no tripod meant no shot in hell of capturing a lot of that, so I had to wait until it was much lighter out to get many shots.

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Turtle tracks…look suspiciously like a tire, no?

 

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This is what a turtle hauling ass back to the ocean looks like.
For about 15 minutes straight. Because that’s how long it takes a turtle to haul ass back to the ocean.

Our mission accomplished and our thousands of touristy photos taken, we trudged back up to the resort for a few short hours of napping. Or so we thought. I ended up sitting on the porch of my tent reading, when suddenly… GOAT TIME. That’s right, a small herd of goats inexplicably came shuffling through our camp. stopping to jump on our porches, knock down clothing and food leftover from suhoor (and eat it too, might I add) and one or two even stuck their heads in peoples’ tents…unfortunately only myself and one or two other people were awake to witness this glory, and the photos are on my phone rather than my camera. However, let me just say…it was hilarious.

Finally we packed up our things, got back on the bus, and napped/chatted our way back to Sur, where we briefly got off to look around (and I found my dream abaya, which due to practicality I did not purchase…next time I’m in the gulf!) and then back on and homeward bound!

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Modeling the abaya I fell in love with and totally would have bought if it weren’t for the fact that I was leaving Oman in about a week and a half…not really wearable Stateside.

Overall it was a lovely, memorable trip with some lovely people. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is this week’s throwback.

One thought on “(Belated) Throwback Thursday: Bimmah Sinkhole and Ras al Jinz, Oman!

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