Call of the Desert

One of the Giant Greenback turtles ashore at Ras al Hadd beach prepares to lay her eggs.

Seven years ago I did a piece of freelance work that paid for myself, Angela, Cáit (then aged almost 3) and Leo (aged 1) to go to Oman for the best part of a month. My brother lived there along with his wife Andrea. It was a brilliant holiday, unlikely to be repeated but you never know.

It was a wonderful experience. At a time when the western media were adding fuel to the fire with ill-advised anti-Islamic sentiment, a few people raised an eyebrow at the thought of us embarking on a trip to the Middle East. Didn’t bother us in the slightest.

We found the Omani people to be very friendly and especially welcoming towards the children. There is a strong sense of family in Islam. At one stage at the swimming pool at the PDO compound an Omani mother dressed head to toe in black abaya and veil jumped into the swimming pool to grab her young son who appeared to be getting into difficulties. It was a surreal image.

One weekend we set off on a marvellous trip to Ras al Hadd beach to see the turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs.  At dawn we returned to watch the new born baby turtles scamper down the beach to the safety of the sea trying to avoid thousands of tiny aggressive crabs waiting to claw their eyes out. At one stage Leo memorably stuck his hand into a bucket and grabbed one of the baby turtles, we have the moment on video for posterity!

We travelled via the Wahiba sands, where we played some hurling. Fifty degrees in the heat, the children themselves knowing it was too hot and taking themselves off into the jeep for some shade.

The trip to the Sultan’s Mosque, the Souk in Old Muscat, and an overnight stay in the Al Bustan Palace Hotel. If you are interested check this place out, unbelieveable.

Would I go back to live there even for a little while? We harboured the idea of taking the children from school and letting them experience Oman and maybe Peru for a year. The only thing really keeping us here are two elderly mothers. But that’s enough. Still you never know.

The Omanis are looking for 100 English teachers from Ireland. Worth a second thought.

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