Right now, we are in the throes of paper grading, speaking exams, and general mayhem here at the college as the semester winds down. Normally this is a very relaxed place, but right now the pace is quite harried and hurried. Thus, now is the perfect time to think about the good stuff about living here, and one of the best things is the ocean. We are a 30-minute drive to the Gulf of Oman, which provides the perfect escape from anything that needs to be forgotten, even if just for a couple of hours. I present to you my top eight reasons for treasuring each moment I spend there:
- It’s warm
No matter what time of year, it’s pleasant to go into the water. I’ve heard it gets up to 30 degrees Celsius in the summer, which seems a little out of control – not that I’m complaining. Even now in the “cold season” (nights on the beach drop down to the high teens/low 20s), the water is still warm – warmer than the air at that point.
- It’s calm
Few waves disturb you as you float thoughtlessly in the water. Ahhhhhh….
- It’s deserted
For whatever reasons, few Omanis see the ocean as a place to hang out. I asked my students once if they liked the ocean and they all pretty much said no. When I told them I liked to go swimming, they thought I was nuts. The ocean seems to be seen as more of a place of work and industry than pleasure, at least in this region. There are several fishing boats out there at all times (we see their lights at night in the distance), and fish is a main food staple here. The shipping trade routes are also quite busy here. But that doesn’t mean one couldn’t also use it for fun. I wonder if part of the reason is the conflict between beach attire and conservative Omani dress code. I have seen women in their abayas on the beach before, and it doesn’t seem right through my Western perspective; beaches are for swimsuits, or perhaps shorts and a T-shirt. I try to cover up well until it gets dark, then I strip down to my one-piece suit (a thread-bare specimen I wore in college! I’ve been wearing two-piece ones typically) and venture in.
- Groovy sea life
When I’m out in the water I think about all the creatures that are sharing their space with me, like the ones I saw when snorkeling. I also know there are a ton of dolphins in this region, though I have yet to see them. The sea shells that get washed up onto the beach are also really neat. I collect a couple each time we go there and place them in a display bowl at home.
- I love swimming when it’s dark
As the sun sets and the sky goes from lighter to darker shades of grey, the sea does its best to match. The effect is that I feel as though I am floating in space. I lie on my back and face out into nothingness as calm waves wash over me. Oftentimes, the water has a phosphorescence which makes the waves and the water I disturb gently with my hands a powerfully intense reflective green. The water is pretty salty, so staying afloat is a breeze. Absolute peace is the result.
- Parking is easy
We take Horst off the road and onto the beach. It’s easier to hide our beverages that way too ;-).
- The company is great
We tend to go with a couple of other teachers each time. Conversation flows as freely as the libations. We vent about challenging students and situations, our friends and family back home, lost pets, about anything on our minds. The sloughing waves; warm, dark, salty air, and quiet create the perfect safe space for honest conversations.
- It’s in my blood
I’m a Scorpio with a moon in Scorpio and a Pisces rising. That’s means I’m a triple water sign (note: I have had two astrologers state that it “must be hard to be you,” after seeing my chart). If the stars and heavens don’t draw me to the coast, I have no idea what would.