Seeing Sea Turtles?

One of the coolest unknown facts about Oman is that it is one of the largest nesting grounds in the world for sea turtles, behind only Australia and Florida. Hundreds of thousands of loggerheads, leatherbacks and green turtles crawl onto the beaches east of Sur to lay their eggs each year and in the summer it is possible to see hundreds of turtles on the same beach! Ras al Jinz, the name of the area where the turtle reserve is located happens to be the eastern most part of Oman which also makes it the eastern most part of the entire Arabian Peninsula and technically the entire Middle East.

I visited when my American family was here in mid-April. It was quite a challenge finding the place since it really is as far out as you can go and thus in the complete middle of nowhere. In order to spot the turtles you can either go on a night tour just after sunset where you are more likely to see females laying eggs or in the morning right before sunrise where it is more common to see babies hatching and making their treacherous first journey to the ocean. The turtles are carefully protected, documented and studied so visitors to the beaches are limited and require a guide, or more accurately a chaperone since when we went he didn’t really tell us any information or speak much at all and I think he was just there to make sure no one tried to take a turtle home.

My family and I went on the pre-dawn session, which required us waking up at 4 am in order to drive from our hotel and arrive in time for the 5 am departure.  Our group consisted of about 20 people including an adorable French family that we continued to run into throughout the day. The reserve center runs tours every day of the year but the optimal time to see turtles is in the summer, on a night with no moon. We went on a night with a full moon and in the spring so not the best season but it was still a lot of fun.

We didn’t see any grown turtles but we did see a handful of babies hatching and then running towards the ocean. It was so cool to see them pop up from under the sand and waddle around confusedly for a while before figuring out which direction the water was.

We watched the turtles running on the beach as the sun rose on the East and the moon set on the West. And I could almost see India on the other side of the ocean!


The Trees Will Look Beautiful Now

Not Just A Little Fall of Rain

Maybe its because I just posted about rain in Oman but last night there was a huge rainstorm. I didn’t hear it at all but it was quickly evident when I stepped outside this morning and was confronted with giant puddles throughout my entire neighborhood. Even the main roads were flooded which resulted in the bus being almost thirty minutes late to pick me up. Our driver isn’t always the most cheerful fellow but he does love talking unreasonably fast to us in Arabic and is always entertaining. He was especially unhappy this morning because of the roads and ranted on to me about it in Arabic for a good five minutes before finishing with “it’s okay, the trees will look beautiful now.” Something about the casualness of his remark stuck with me and I love how his outlook is so positive even in the face of something that really is very disruptive and as a taxi driver directly affects him and his livelihood. This shot that I took on the way to school reminded me of that outlook; a typically busy shopping center completely deserted and yet there is something very striking and serene about the building, paired with its reflection. At least the trees will look beautiful now.