Friday, January 25, 2013

Jebel Akhdar- Bani Habib

A couple of weeks ago, we took a day trip to Jebel Akhdar.  I try hard to make sure all my spelling is correct in this blog.  That can be quite the challenge in Oman!  I have three books on Oman, sitting on my desk, and each book spells Jebel Akhdar differently.  Anyways, Jebel means mountain.
There were quite a few of these signs on the road.  They take this warning very seriously.  There is actually a police check point before you enter this area.  The police make sure your vehicle has 4WD.  There have been many automobile accidents where the brakes just wear out!
We were at 2035 meters (or about 6600 feet).  The temperature was 53 degrees Fahrenheit, the coolest we have felt in the three months we have been in Oman.  Notice how Jebel Akhdar is spelled on this sign.
The village of Al Sheraija, as noted on the sign.

Jebel Akhdar is more of a region, than a specific location.  We were searching for a particular village, with little detailed instructions.  We saw three different SUVs from touring companies, so we figured we were in the right place.
My pictures loaded out of order, I am sure through no fault of my own.  :)  Savannah and I are making our way to Bani Habib, the old abandoned village in the distance.  The distance looked daunting.  I was just fine, but thankful for my regular workouts.

This picture was taken on our way to Jebel Akhdar.  Most of the Omani women you see in Muscat are completely covered in black.  Out of the cities, the women dress more colorfully.  A little difficult to see, but I was excited to get this picture.

Back to Bani Habib.

Austin ventures off the beaten path. 

Here is an aflaj, or ancient man made water channel. 

We had to hike down one mountain, cross this wadi (dry riverbed), and then climb the next mountain to get to Bani Habib.  No access by vehicles.  People actually lived in this village until the 1970's!

And the ascent begins.

Joe said this house was inhabited by Omani Wanda.  See all the shelves for books and accessories?

The house behind Joe was the biggest building in the village, located at the highest point.  More pictures to follow.

But not yet.  Different house.

I loved the view through this window.  If you look very closely, you see another abandoned village in the distance.

I don't think these home builders expected visitors the size of Austin!

Highly decorated doors are very traditional in Oman.  Still, this painted metal door stood out from all the simpler wooden doors in the village.

The villagers must have had generators.  We saw this can of oil and a few electrical wires.

Back to the big house.

I have no idea what this building was used for.  It was the only structure that had locks on the doors.

Joe climbs a very narrow set of stairs.
Upstairs, we see painted walls!
But this was by far the fanciest room in the village!

You can see another village in the distance. 

This is a Pakistani goat herder.  You can tell he is Pakistani by his clothing- tunic over long pants. I have never seen a Pakistani wear a shawl over his clothing, but it has not been this chilly in Muscat.

One of the several goats he was trying to herd.  He certainly knew what he was doing.

Austin climbed up to this ledge and Savannah managed to follow him.  I asked her, how will you get down??

Big brothers can come in handy!

Resting a bit after the climb back up to our car.

On our drive back home- one of the many old watchtowers in the area.

Also on our way home.

We had a great day at Jebel Akhdar.  We look forward to returning in April, when the roses are in bloom!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Muscat, Oman!  
We spent the day dolphin-watching, snorkeling, boating, and playing on the beach.

Dolphin watching

I am just glad the boat had flippers big enough for Austin's feet!

Here is our group, snorkeling.  The day was beautiful, with temps in the upper 70's.  The water was just a tad cool, though.

Sailboats in the distance, practicing for an upcoming race.

Our boat, docked at the beach.  We had it all to ourselves.

There were lots of rocks to climb.

And castles to build.

Joe and I took a short hike up from the beach, away from the cove.  

This is what we saw on the other side.  It seemed like everywhere you looked was more beautiful than the spot before!

The water was clear and green.  This was quite a ways down.

And this is what I saw when I turned my head to the right. 

Walking back to the beach.

These were all the younger members of our group.

This is my souvenir from the day!