2009 World Cruise – Mar 31 – Day 85 – Muscat, Oman

The night we were at sea between Dubai, UAE and Muscat, Oman there was a severe lightning storm.  I slept through it all while John sat up and video’d the storm.  While we walked the deck for our usual two miles we had to battle wind and a rolling deck from the churning sea.2009-03-31_2811 2009-03-31_2802 2009-03-31_2804 The captain announced there was good chance of rain the next day for our stop in Oman, which will be interesting since it is a desert country located along the south coast of the Arabian peninsula.

Our tour was an all-day (9 1/2 hours) trip to see the Forts of Nizwa (the former cultural and political capital of Oman).  Nizwa was 1 1/2 hour drive from Muscat through the Western Al Jajar Mountains.2009-03-31_2806 2009-03-31_2809 2009-03-31_2808               Note the tiny people in the lower center of this photo.

There was only one stop on the way to Nizwa; the ruins at Bilkat Moz; which was built into a steep hillside. 2009-03-31_2814_edited-1 2009-03-31_2818 2009-03-31_28172009-03-31_2826 John and our friend Harold from Melbourne, Australia had an in depth conversation as we walked back to the bus.

We spent over an hour at the 17th century Nizwa Fort before lunch.  The fort had access to freshwater even during a siege due to an irrigation system developed by the Queen of Sheba in 550 BC.  Underground channels brought the water from nearby wells into the fort.2009-03-31_2831I loved all the pots and urns on display in the shops on the way to the fort.2009-03-31_2834 2009-03-31_2835 2009-03-31_2836 2009-03-31_28402009-03-31_28412009-03-31_28682009-03-31_28392009-03-31_28472009-03-31_28492009-03-31_28552009-03-31_28562009-03-31_28572009-03-31_2865How could you not love all the angles, shapes and arches in an Arabian Fort?  So much fun to photograph.

From the top of the walls we had a nice view of part of Nizwa. 2009-03-31_2858 2009-03-31_2862 2009-03-31_28632009-03-31_28812009-03-31_2873                             This rock looks just like a crouching lion.

The abandoned ruins at Tanuf, home of Oman’s last Imam (religious leader), had an interesting tale.  The current Sultan’s father united the tribes of the country of Oman, but the Iman (who controlled 90% of the land) was not on board.  The Imam’s dissent brought the wrath of the Sultan down upon his dwellings in the form of air-raid bombing by the Sultan’s allies – the British Royal Air Force.

There were very few complete sections of walls to show the size or former granduer of the fort.

2009-03-31_2882 2009-03-31_2883 2009-03-31_2886 2009-03-31_2887 2009-03-31_2888 20090331_2884 20090331_298720090331_2977 2009-03-31_28942009-03-31_2900We only had a photo stop at Bahla, the UNESCO World Heritage Site 15th century fort that predates the spread of Islam in the region.

2009-03-31_2902 2009-03-31_2906_edited-2Our last fort on the tour was Jabrin Castle, called Palace of Gilyaroub.  It is famous for the beautiful ceiling decorations, wall murals and impressive architecture.  It is considered one of Oman’s most beautiful forts.

2009-03-31_2930 2009-03-31_2931 2009-03-31_2932 2009-03-31_2936 2009-03-31_2937 2009-03-31_2939 2009-03-31_29202009-03-31_2919 2009-03-31_2923 2009-03-31_2924 2009-03-31_2928 2009-03-31_2913 2009-03-31_2916While we were on our tour inland the rain came down in buckets in Muscat.  When we were driving back into the city the wadi’s (many of which had been dry for five years or more) were rivers of muddy water.  Our guide was very excited and told us we brought good luck to Oman by bringing the rain so we were welcome back anytime.2009-03-31_2945 2009-03-31_2948 2009-03-31_2951 2009-03-31_2952 2009-03-31_2953The Sultanate of Oman is a mountainous, dry desert country.  There are no lakes, rivers, or streams – although there are several oases with fresh water pools.  All the water for the 3.5 million population is supplied by de-salination and wells. It does rain in Oman several times a year but the rain we got that day was much longer in duration and a heavier downpour than they have had in many, many years.2009-03-31_2946 2009-03-31_2955There were traffic jams in the streets where people had just stopped their cars and gotten out to stand in the rain.  School had been cancelled by the Sultan and many of the children were seeing running water in the wadi’s for the first time in their lives.  It was a pretty neat end to a good day.

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