I was in Muscat. I had decided I wanted to go South to a Turtle nesting beach close to the town of Sur. This decision was made mid-morning on a Friday. Fridays in a Muslim country is probably the worst day to do anything as most people just chill-out with their families. I phoned up the camp close to the turtle sanctuary and booked a room for the night. Now I needed to find a way to get to the place. The guide book said it was around 3 hours away from Muscat.
It was already 12pm and after consulting the hotel concierge person, I realized I had missed the busses and the shared taxi’s South. So the concierge told me he had a friend who was a taxi driver who might be willing to drive me down. He phoned him up and told me he was willing to do it for fifty five Omani Riyals ($150). Ouch… That was expensive and after consulting some other people, that was the only way down and a reasonable price as I wasn’t sharing the taxi. So I agreed.
Amir, the driver picked me up from the hotel and we made our way out of Muscat. Initially we just exchanged pleasantries and sat in the back with my iPod plugged in. After a while we stopped at a gas station where I went in to get some supplies for the long drive. I asked Amir if he wanted anything, but he declined showing me a bag of food he already had. I got my supplies and we were on the road again.
Then both of us started talking for a bit. He asked me where I was from, what I did, if I was married (typical question in an Arab country) etc. He told me about himself and his family and then about Oman. Which places were nice; Which places weren’t. Every so often he would stop to buy some coffee, he would always ask if wanted one, and I would say yes and take out some money to pay and he would refuse payment for the coffee with the words “You are guest in my country. Coffee is small gift to you. You no pay.”.
After a four and a half drive we finally got to the camp site. Amir jokingly said, “I not know this far. If I know, I no come! Hahahahahah!”. The trip was expensive, but considering that through Amir I got a glimpse of true Oman and it’s amazingly hospitable people. Amir gave me his number and said that the next time I was in Muscat I must tell him so that I could go to his house for dinner. I did end up seeing him again as he took me to the airport when I left Oman.