A Day in Oman
This post originally appeared on Progressive Feats, Katie's blog about her experiences teaching and travelling abroad.
I was reminded this weekend of how lucky I am to be on this adventure in the Middle East. I never would have imagined I would be in a boat in the middle of the Gulf of Oman for a day trip with a group of amazing friends that I just met. What a crazy life this is.
The day began with a 2 hour road trip from Ras al Khaimah to Khasab Musandam, Oman. We sang tunes, ate snacks and chatted away. The border was unbelievably easy to cross and everyone was very nice, especially the Omani border patrol who just smiled and blushed as a few ladies flirted with them through the window. The highway in Oman was on the border with the sea to the left and mountains to the right of us. The closest thing I can compare it to is the coast in California but I don’t think anything can truly compare to the beauty of this road.
Upon arrival at the boat we learned that we would be on our own boat. So wonderful! We had to walk through a boat with so many children screaming so I was extremely pleased with our solo adventure. The boat we took is called a Dhow, it’s a traditional arabic boat, I know it’s used as a fishing boat but it may have been traditionally used in pearl diving. We cruised around on this Dhow for 6.5 hours in the Gulf of Oman. I didn’t realize we were only about an hour away from Iran from where we were located. Shows how much I still have to learn about the region I call home for the time being.
A highlight of this trip was getting to see dolphins in real life, in their natural habitat. We dolphin watched for at least an hour. They were so playful and seriously showing off for everyone. The dolphins basically chased the boats and played in the wake. One dolphin was surfing on the waves and swim and weaving in and out of his or her buddies. What smart, beautiful animals that live in such a beautiful place! I will never go to an aquarium show again and you shouldn’t either I promise all of the flips they make dolphins do will never compare to seeing these beautiful animals in the wild.
After chasing our dreams (I mean dolphins) we pulled up to a beautiful location, dropped our anchor and snorkeled and swam for hours. Our captain found and was stung by a jellyfish but we all got to see a jellyfish while we tried to witness all of the schools of fish we could. Side note, my own personal victory, this is the first time I’ve snorkeled since the knee break and I swam unassisted for hours. The gulf of Oman is VERY salty though so you basically just floated with very little effort. After a quick synchronized swim we were brought lunch which we all enjoyed together.
We toured some more, tried to befriend some more dolphins, and swam/snorkeled one more time. On our way back to the port the captain was nice enough to let me drive the Dhow. Who does that? Drives a boat in Oman!? You can all refer to me as Captain Katie now. “Look at me, I’m the captain now.”
I know a lot of people are worried about coming to visit the Middle East and were possibly nervous that I was coming here. A lot of people asked me if I was scared about safety and about being a woman here. I really want to encourage everyone to come to this part of the world and form your own opinion, but I will say this, everyone has been incredibly lovely here. The people I met in Oman were very kind and incredibly willing to teach and help me. The physical environment is not just sand, it’s beautiful and the pictures on this don’t even do it justice. I leave places feeling like I cannot wait to go back learn more and meet more people. It’s just so different from what is being shown to us in the West. I have not once felt unsafe. There are of course things that bother me but there are things that bother me in Chicago in Monroe in Xalapa. The fight for women continues throughout the world and I feel enlightened getting to see the discussion here. Women are powerful and we always have been – just because the power here looks different than power in the US it doesn’t mean it’s not real but you have to look at it from a perspective other than what you have been told is right.
This is what I remind myself a lot here. The way I think things should be done is not the right way, it’s the way I understand and am comfortable with. If I only did what I’m comfortable with I wouldn’t be living here, I wouldn’t have gone to Oman I wouldn’t have driven a Dhow nor would I have seen dolphins and now that I’ve done it, I can’t imagine not having these experiences.
Something beautiful is waiting for you too, you just have to make space for it and possibly step out of what makes you comfortable