Day 8: The Final Chapter
After being in Oman for a week, I think we might have been on the verge of sensory overload. Each day brought such incredible sights and experiences, but there was still so much that we hadn’t yet done, and we had only one full day left.
We started the day at the Friday morning animal souq in Nizwa. This market has to be seen in order to be believed. It is at once both chaotic and orderly, with hundreds of people traditionally dressed carrying goats and sheep around a big circle. If a prospective buyer is interested in an animal, they stop the seller to inspect and chat. You can check out my video of the souq on Facebook.
After the animal souq, we walk over to the Nizwa Fort and Castle, another impressive architectural specimen. This castle has been turned into much more of a museum than some of the other castles we’ve seen during our trip, but it’s so huge that there’s plenty of room for some exhibits. Although we were at risk of suffering castle fatigue (and for that matter beautiful scenery fatigue), the view from atop the fort is superb.
After bidding adieu to Barry and Helen, our CouchSurfing hosts in Nizwa, we heed their advice, and drive to visit the ruins of Tanuf, an old village that was completely destroyed during an uprising in 1954. In some ways, it’s a shame that the ruins aren’t better protected (we were able to just park our car at the edge, and then walk through unsupervised), but it did afford us a neat experience, and I suppose when you have as much natural beauty and history as Oman, you have to be a bit selective about what you try to preserve.
From there, we drive up to Al Hoota cave. It seems a bit unnecessary, but to enter the cave, you have to go the Visitor’s Centre and buy a ticket on a slow-moving train that goes through a man-made tunnel into the cave itself. We buy our tickets and then are told we need to run to catch the next train. Once again, there were no photos allowed inside the cave, but some highlights included a few long-tailed bats, blind fish in the cave’s waters and park ‘rangers’ who failed to insert a pause between “Any questions” and “Thank you”, leaving many questions unasked and unanswered.
After that, it’s back to Muscat for the final time. We have dinner that night at our new favourite Lebanese restaurant with Adel and his brother Jaoud. Given our conversations and time spent together with Adel, we are a bit surprised to find that Jaoud is a very devout Muslim, and very much in love with Oman, even wearing the Omani dishdasha. He gives us some lessons about the Bible; mocks Lady Gaga; asks us questions about Mormons, divorce and prenuptial agreements in America; and tells us the Muslim version of Left Behind, which seems similar enough to the Christian version for everyone to just get along.
Our last photo-op of the trip is of a sight we had seen earlier but hadn’t yet had a chance to photograph — the golden door (literally) to Oman International Bank.
Day 9: The Return
Oman had produced more adventures than we could realistically blog about in such a short time. But now, it was time to go back to Uganda, to resume our adventurous life there…