Indeed, we found ourselves in a tricky situation. It was 9pm already, we had covered 700 km and hadn’t yet found accomodation. We’d been advised to carry on for another 100 km, but the prospect of driving in the mountains veiled in pitch blackness wasn’t particularly appealing to me. I was determined not to drive any longer that day, so we turned back in an attempt to find a place where we could put up our little tent and then something caught my eye. Something glistened right next to the road, and as our eyes began getting used to the surroundings, it turned out that we were actually several meters away from the sea! We’d gone on this road trip to be able to see the seaside whilst driving and there it was, right in front of our very eyes though we could still hardly make out what was there.
It’s so easy to take the sea for granted when you live in a place like San Sebastian and walk to work on the beach almost every day. Or perhaps that’s not true – I never actually took it for granted, I think. It never ceased to amaze me or inspire awe. Anyway, the realisation that we were driving along the coast filled me with such joy that I instantly knew I wanted to camp on the beach even though I had never ever done it before. There were quite a few people on the beach, so we stopped at one of the several gazebo-like constructions built there for public use and asked for accomodation opportunities. A group of men grilling fish right next to the gazebo told us that finding a room was basically impossible, but we were free to camp in one of the gazebos . They also invited us for dinner, but, to be honest, we were rather exhausted and politely declined the invitation hoping to be able to find a good spot on the beach. It turned out that none of the gazebos were actually available, but there was a simple construction with a roof at which we stopped and decided to camp there.
It was amazing to be able to hear the mellow waves, but the air was filled with rather unpleasant fish smell which was ovewhelming, though understandable, as we were in a fishing village. We pottered around and were just about to start setting up when two cars pulled up, one of them a decent 4×4, and around 6-7 teenage-looking boys, all in white dishdashas and carelessy arranged on their heads turbans, came out of the vehicles. Now, if two fancy vehicles full of cool teenagers pulled up next to me in Poland or England, I would certainly be calling the police and to be fair, I did get a fright initially. They asked if we needed help, in very broken English, but still, and on hearing the story, some of them decided to help B. put up the tent. The others were trying to communicate with me in English, but since they knew only about 10 words altogether, it wasn’t a successful conversation, although their efforts were much appreciated. It took all of them a while to figure out the tent, but they managed in the end. They left and we thought that was it, but they came back after a short while and told us that they had called a few people and managed to find us a place to stay! We were impressed because we hadn’t even asked them to do that, but nonetheless followed them to the house, which was only about a four-minute drive from the beach. There we waited for the owner who eventually turned up and showed us in. The house was uninhabited, though quite new judging both by the still unfinished outside and the rather empty and basic inside. Sadly, it was also extremely dirty and sticky, but at the end of the day – it had a roof and running water, or so we thought! After negotiating the price (25 OMR = 50 GBP), the landlord and the boys left and we decided to go back to the beach to collect the rest of our stuff which we had left behind in a rush to see the place. We were just about to leave when we discovered that … there wasn’t, in fact, any running water! It must have been cut off as no one actually lived there on a regular basis, but we hadn’t been told. Fortunately, we had about 40 litres of water with us and a bowl so we could at least have a wash.
After collecting the items from the beach, we sat on a concrete bench for a while, wrapped up in a blanket, because it was getting rather chilly, and listened to the sea. Soon we headed back to our one-night base though, because we were quite exhausted. The place was really not very clean at all and despite there being several single beds, pillows and thick high-quality blankets lying around, it all made me cringe. I was also worried about bugs crawling onto us at night, even though I hadn’t see any, but just in case we decided to put up the tent again and camp inside the house! We put two mattresses on the floor and then the tent on top of them, and that’s how we spent the night. I remember building tents and fortresses with pillows, sofa cushions and blankets in our bedrooms when we were children. It felt a little like that, too.
I woke up at around 9 am and with a headache. B. had got up earlier to put out the two twenty-litre bottles of water in the sun so that they would get warm, as not only did we not have running water, but also gas. It also turned out that the sea was just across the road, so I think the house was like a holiday home rather than a regular one. We had a wash in what I still considered to be cold water and left. I took a couple of pics of the house before driving off.
We were now 430 km away from our destination – Salalah. We had done 700 km the previous day, so we thought we would be getting there in the late afternoon at the latest. We had made contact with our AirBnB hosts and told them to expect us at 5pm.
The first stop was going to be Shalim – a town about 113 km away from Lakabi where we had been told to go the night before. I was glad we hadn’t because the drive was quite a long and monotonous one. First, we had to go up this steep mountain which had scared me off the previous night and rightly so. We drove for about 1.5 hours and in the meantime, and also in the middle of nowhere, picked up two Pakistani workers and dropped them off at a petrol station near Shalim. Eventually, we reached the town where we had brunch. It turned out that there was, indeed, a guest house there, but it was completely full, so even if we had come the night before, we wouldn’t have been given a room.
The last leg of the journey was the most picturesque one so it deserves a separate post.