Happy Birthday to you,
Squashed tomatoes and stew,
I bought you an Aston Martin,
And a purple Porsche too!
Now I would if I could but sadly, the finances are a little tight so I had to make do with a book on birds and a hastily constructed hand-made card. Sounds a little familiar? Just remember, you get what you give in this world!
All excited we set forth to partake in a little twitching (bird spotting to the uninitiated). I spotted loads of birds, some flying and some not. Then I was bored. The family troupe were cajoled onto the beach to watch the fisherman haul in their daily catch. Unusually, the clever use of 4×4 vehicles did the donkey work hauling in the nets and as they did so, those less able to afford fresh fish scavenged for tiddlers, quickly releasing them and stealing them away in their plastic (heavy gauge) shopping bags. The task was extraordinarily dangerous as the fisherman cared not for the scavengers and the vehicles lurched backwards with heavy nets in tow and accelerated forwards to pick up more net before it all had time to slip away. Quite clearly, one or two tiny fish had more importance than the lives of those who hurriedly shook them loose to fill their carrier bags. It was beyond our comprehension and we marvelled at the fact that no one was killed in the melee.
Believe me, those trucks did not hang about and woe betide anyone who got in the way of a fisherman and his catch.
As we frolicked in the surf and enjoyed the winter sunshine, the fishy haul emerged and the frantic race to secure the catch began with all available hands sealing the top of the trawl net. More vehicles homed in from along the vast sandy beach, enormous chiller boxes strapped to their cargo decks. By the skin of her teeth, a toddler missed being run down by one of these vehicles and a furious father remonstrated with the moving vehicle, gesticulating and claiming beach rights as a tourist. We wondered who has such a right? The fisherman who have probably fished this beach for generations or the much needed tourists who spill out of the coffee bars to lounge on the beaches inappropriately dressed, displaying scant regard for the Islamic way of life by exposing those body parts that should not be seeing the light of day and certainly not on a public beach, but I digress.
The fisherman’s nets were bubbling with frantic fish who in their panic would propel themselves at anything and everything trying to escape. The water boiled with movement and we began to identify those species we knew – Rays to be sure, a Puffa fish, Sherri and a baby turtle initially caught the eye. Quickly the turtle was released, as was the Puffa fish. The rest was destined to become someone’s dinner.
Rays were unceremoniously thrown from the trawl net into another net and the into a chiller box aback a waiting vehicle. Other fish were thrown from man to man and then into boxes depending on their species and/or size and weight. Still the scavengers worked in the background and faltered not in their task, ignoring the vociferous and threatening objections of the fisherman whose hands were now tied with their haul.
The arduous task continued and we weighed up the cost in terms of human labour, time and vehicle usage and considered that the whole affair seemed hardly worth it – apart from the scavengers who had now snuck away with their fishy booty. We retired to a nearby cafe for drinks and a muffin, to plan a celebratory meal in honour of what we had witnessed and the birthday occasion of the day. It seemed only fitting therefore that we partake of the delights of the ocean and cook up some lovely Indian Mackerel
As for the birdwatching; I said I saw Bonelli’s Eagle and claimed the twitcher of the family was just too slow to catch sight of it. Whose to say I didn’t?
As for spotting rare animals – we recently came to realise that the cat I spent half the night throwing stones at whilst camping on the beach in Dhofar (on our Salalah adventure) was actually Gordon’s Wildcat! A very shy inhabitant who hunts at night. Being the forerunner to the domestic cat, I thought it was just another stray moggy and did not photograph it or afford it the respect it deserved.
Next week we are attempting the Wahiba Desert crossing. A three day extravaganza of sand, sand dunes, sand storms, sand in me sandwiches, camel spiders, scorpions and precarious driving conditions. we hope and we pray that the blessing has worked and we will not have to suffer the torment of “ARE WE THERE YET?”
P.S. If you like the photos then look at my other blog at http://www.imageximage.wordpress.com/ and remember to click the link to ‘older entries’ at the bottom left of that page.