‘Didn’t we have a lovely time, the day went to Masirah, a beautiful day, we had fun on the way and …only had to queue for five hours or more!’
A good four and a half hour drive away, almost halfway to the other end of the country, sits an island in the Arabian Sea where, it is rumoured, many a skeleton can be found with a little beachcombing. Our neighbour at home has been there many times and he has some amazing skulls (dolphins, turtles, rays, shells, etc.) dotted around his garden as trophies, so we thought we would head down that way for our long weekend, courtesy of the National Day holidays and bag us a trophy or two.
Unfortunately, as has been previously mentioned in these blogs, the discipline associated with driving is sadly lacking here. So, as we waited in line for the new, catamaran ferry, we were not surprised to see vehicles overtaking us in order to queue on the only exit road leading away from the port. Of course, to board the ferry one must first wait for the vehicles already on that ferry to get off and drive away. That proved impossible as the road was now completely blocked with miles of tailbacks where undisciplined drivers could not see the bigger picture, drivers who thought they would queue on the exit road to gain an advantage. Gridlocked ensued and we waited. We waited and waited but all was not lost; we had a very nice view of the brand new ferry that we would, eventually, get to sail on.
Having consumed half a tank of petrol, just idling to keep the a/c going, there began some serious cajoling and shuffling of cars by an over-awed police chap and a gap slowly appeared which was just large enough to squeeze through, so boarding commenced. This being our first time on this particular adventure, we didn’t realise that pre-booking, on what is essentially the same as a ‘bank holiday weekend,’ was required and as we didn’t have a ticket for the luxury ferry, we sat and watched it sail off into the sunset without us. Never mind, we would get the local ferry; what could possibly go wrong? As we should have expected, the local ferry was, shall we say, not quite as luxurious as the new one but we cared not at this stage, we were on an adventure and about to experience real life, just as a local might do.
We reversed our car onboard, directed by the screaming and shouting of a number of deck-hands, and considered just what might happen if the whole thing capsized which, under the circumstances, was highly likely. Crammed in so tight we were unable to open our car doors so we wound down the windows in order to assist a hasty exit should the worst case scenario present itself
Honestly! What were we worried about? Safe and sound, lungs filled to capacity with diesel fumes, we headed off to the other side of the island, in the dark, to find our hotel; – an interesting arrangement that was seemingly run by Indians, for Indians and not being Indian, we were obvious specks of white in a sea of brown.
At first light we headed out to circumnavigate the island, stopping along the way to visit such famous places as ‘Shell Beach’ and ‘Whale Bone Beach’ as well as the place where a ‘lost ship’ can be found. About half way round the island we realised that we had forgotten to refuel, having lost most of our fuel through idling the engine at the mainland port, so we quickly made for the only filling station – which was back at the island port. It mattered not as we took in many a delight on the way; beautiful beaches, incredible coastlines and lots of birds which the ‘twitcher’ amongst us was delighted by. We saw flamingoes, so there! In the town that hosted the remains of many a Land Rover mark I and II, most of which were still being used, we refueled and set out to find the ‘lost ship’ being an old Dhow that had run aground some time ago. The picture on the map looked exciting so we dreamed of exploring the boat below decks, its wheelhouse and upper platforms. Sadly, the ‘lost ship’ was…well, lost – we couldn’t find it anywhere. We thought it would be visible from the road as we drove around the coastline but alas, it was…well and truly, lost.
Never mind, we would head for shell beach where, the map said, beautiful shells could be found scattered all over the beach – amazing tropical shells that would grace anyone’s home or garden. ‘Shell Beach,’ it transpired, had been named solely for the tourists as the real name of the place was ‘Beach Bay’ and it was here that we found a small section covered in unrecognisable, smashed and ground shells, none of which were any bigger than a child’s thumbnail. What we did discover was that said pieces of shell, once inside your beach shoes, were a devil to walk on. By now, the child was eagerly hoping to find a souvenir, a skeletal head, a super-shell, anything that was trophy like, brightly coloured or had the whiff of expiration about it.
She was not appeased by our ‘green’ mantra of, ‘take nothing and leave nothing but your footprints.’ She wanted a souvenir and it was Dad’s job to provide it. NOW! Wrongly, it was believed that she would forget such wanton desires after a little snorkeling. In crystal clear waters we spied on fish going about their business in amongst the coral and we considered better of skinny-dipping even though this beach was deserted.
After a full day of fun-filled sun, sea and sand, we retired to our hotel where we ate a dubious curry which, as we should have expected, caused nasty bout of the ‘earthas’ the following day. Wet wipes always at the ready, we headed out to trawl the coastline looking for a ‘lost boat’ and any oceanic skeletons that would look great carefully positioned about our front garden. Our slower pace and the refueling worry negated, it allowed for our full concentration on the job at hand and after a while we eventually found the ‘not so, lost boat.’ Just like a McDonald’s or Burger King burger, it didn’t look anything like the picture and how we laughed as all energy was expended to try and raise the hidden treasure chest from beneath the sand. But there was no treasure chest!! We think…
Obviously, the boat had deteriorated somewhat, nevertheless we felt satisfied that we had found its final resting place and as a bonus, we discovered a dead porpoise on the beach. The trophy hunter thought a dolphin’s tooth would make a nice necklace so, like some macabre dentist, a tooth was extracted but this produced the most appalling, obnoxious stench; the reek of death and decomposition and permeated into our clothes, our skin and our very souls. No amount of washing, hand cleanser, wet wipes or moaning could get rid of the disgusting odour. A job well done, tooth safely secured in an air tight water-bottle, we headed out to find something more substantial to adorn our mantelpiece. In the distance we saw it, the prize, the trophy we had come for – she wanted a turtle skull and nothing would deter me from claiming it for the princess (the little one from having what she wants). Leatherman in hand, we approached the carcass and observed that the turtle had not quite rotted nor had its skull been bleached white by the sun, as yet.
It mattered not. The child will have what the child wants and the turtle was promptly decapitated (come on! It’s dead already). We would let the sun do its job on the outside windowsill at home.
The beaches of white sand were incredible and many a nook and cranny was scrambled into to eject the nasty hotel meal from the previous night. We wandered along endless shores, watched some birds wading and doing bird stuff, paddled, strolled and meandered aimlessly, before deciding to make an early start for the ferry home, so as to avoid the queue, of course. By the time we reached the port, the queue was enormous but we really didn’t care – we had our trophies and we were suitably sunburnt. A team of locals drove up and down our queue handing out cold drinks and we thought how fortunate we are to be here, to experience all of this, to be on holiday, forever!
One more for the album…
And, just in case you were wondering…
We are off again, later this week, heading North,160 miles above the Arctic Circle; Finland to be precise with, maybe, a jog through the snow to Sweden. It’s expected to be -40 degrees or thereabouts son, it’s winter woollies at the ready and best foot forward as we march into uncharted territory. If and when we return, you can read all about it.
Finally, for that very special Christmas gift; for that special man or woman in your life it doesn’t get any better than giving the gift of love and there is no better way to express that love than to buy them a copy of the fabulous, heart-wrenching, roller-coaster of a whirlwind ride, a laugh out loud, emotional odyssey, a darn good read and a great story beautifully written with lots of swear words, the masterpiece that is: Slugs, Snails and Casino Tales by Rowntree Travis. Available on Amazon as a download…
or for a paperback copy…
Buy it, download it, read it, trend it and watch me sit back and get rich beyond my wildest dreams. Hey! Didn’t we all do that for One Direction? I voted for them and now they’re multi-millionaires. Treat me the same folks and I’ll be just as grateful as they are.
Wish us well,
Season’s Greetings to one and all.