Friday, June 26, 2015

Muscat, Oman

June 25 and 26

We arrived after dark on Wednesday and the airport was practically deserted. Our "handler", a young woman with excellent English, whisked us through customs. She was not wearing an abaya or even a head scarf, but all the other women were.

Outside, it was a toasty 105 degrees at 8:00pm, "but it was dry heat"... as if that helps.

On Thursday, Becky and I got up early, and met Manal, our guide (a woman!) for the Haya Water Al Ansab wetlands. It's an environmental restoration area which is packed with migrant birds during the winter, but much fewer birds during the summer. We saw plenty of things to keep us interested and I was intrigued to get a closer look at some plants and happy to know they are developing a section devoted to native plants of Oman.

Our cabbie, Salah, then took us to see The Grand Mosque. Becky and I were ushered into a room where lovely women helped us don headscarfs. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque opened in 2006 and boasts massive Swarovski crystal chandeliers and a 40,000 square foot carpet woven as one continuous piece. It took hundreds of women four years to complete.

On Friday morning, Salah met us early again, and Josh joined us to explore the Al Qurm National Park - more like what we consider a major city park, not a big wilderness area. We were the only visitors since it was Friday (Muslim's Holy Day) but that made birdwatching a lot better for us.

These afternoons have consisted of staying inside with air conditioning. We dipped into the pool, touched the ocean, but it is crazy hot-like-Phoenix-plus humidity.

Weather forecast for our trip to Sri Lanka looks good.

Some courtyard pics of our hotel

Beach at Chedi Hotel - Indian Ocean

Walkway at Chedi Hotel

The irony here is that away from this hotel, the ground is barren and completely dry

With our guide, Manal, after touring the Haya water restoration area

Indian Roller

Green Bee-eater
Squacco Heron

In our head scarves!

With our friendly driver in front of the carved doors of the Grand Mosque
Carpet in the Grand Mosque

Carpet detail

Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

Grand Mosque

Milkweed flower - the plant was six feet tall!

Madagascar periwinkles can stand the heat at Al Qurm park 

A small lake at Al Qurm National Park