Sunday, May 17, 2009

Desert Adventures..

This trip did not need much planning. Just a free weekend during the winter and we were good to go. The bookings for the stay had to be done a few weeks in advance as dune bashing is a popular venture here but not many places offer it.

Wahiba Sands is what the place is called. And it's about a 3 hour drive from Muscat. So a thursday morning saw us get onto our cars and head towards the golden dunes. The roads all over Oman are impressive and surrounded by majestic mountains. The 1st hour of the drive went off smoothly with the kids being busy eating all the snack they had managed to load in their rucsacks. The hubby was enjoying the drive and me the music and the quiet in the backseat. But that was just the first hour.

"How much time more?" said the son and my bells started ringing."Another 2 hours at least." "How much is 2 hours?" Hubby chiped in..."Its a very long time.. so look out of the window and watch the mountains." "What are we going to do when we reach there?" This was the daughter, and I had to rack my brains to come up with a game instantly else this was going to go beyond control. So I suggested we play antakshari. Happily singing songs whose tunes had just our copyrights and that only we could understand we went along the road. Hubby meanwhile was trying his best not to miss out pointers.. the next hour or so went by.

Then a point came where we had to forgo the freeway for the desert terrain, so the wheels were deflated slightly while we got down to stretch our legs. The next 45 minutes or so of the drive was an experience in itself.. wild camels walking peacefully by our car, friendly almost sad eyes looking at us through the windows. This needed a halt definitely, so we stopped got down and saw the camels persistently refuse a drink of lemonade that was being offered to them by the kids.

Finally we reached the camp..

The rest of the evening, after a quick snack of fresh fruits, and some sandwiches followed by 'kahwa' which is the local brew in this part of the world, was spent literally rolling in the sand.

After around 2 hours of this rolling on the dunes, we came back to the camp with a raging appetite. The camp was equipped with good bathrooms and warm water, so the days work and pleasure were washed clean and the appetite further raked. What followed was the most sumptuous desert feast ever, varieties of barbecued meat and vegetables being done so tender that they melt in your mouth. The breads on offer were equally divine and so were the cooling desserts. The meal was being accompanied by Omani folk songs which are quite lilting to the ears.

By the end of the meal, it was almost dark and very quiet. Apart from the inhabitants of this camp, which came to around a maximum of 20, there was no one in sight for miles together. With just the moon and a sky full of stars and the desert chill, I sat outside the tent with a bottle of water and my peace, as the kids and the hubby slept peacefully inside the tents.

The next day started early, with a light breakfast and a quick shower. The tyres of our 4wds were further deflated to do the dune bashing. This was exhilerating to say the climb up a steep wall of sand and then drive on the summit was an experience in itself, the kids clamouring for the view and the shouts of mirth were made the entire trip worthwhile.