In the previos Rallies, the yachts sailed from the Maldives towards a secret meeting point off Socotra (an island which is the arab-equivalent of what Tortuga was in the Caribbean: a place where the pirate is a well-respected job, passed from father to son….); due to the light winds, it happaned that the yachts ran out of fuel even before beginning the passage along the Gulf of Aden towards Djibouti. One year they even had to get a fuel drum from a passing ship!!
This time, with a last-minute decision, it has been decided to add a stopover in Salalah, Oman, which is deemed to be a “safe” Country: we did not even have the nautical charts for this area, anyway the arrival to the huge commercial harbour of Mina Raysut, few miles from Salalah, has been straightforward.
Commercial harbour, therefore not equipped to accomodate yachts, but modern and well organised; we all rented a car and started out on refueling and reprovisioning trips (we had to get fuel in jerrycans from a road fuel station, but at least the price is one forth than back home!).
A strictly-muslim country, no surprise that the few women around wear pitch-black burqas (but the shops sell a lot of elegant, colorful dresses, evidently worn only at home), while men are dressed in many different ways, the most common being a white, spotless jalabja.
Everybody is friendly and cheerful, and willing to help; they must not see many tourists though, sometimes we feel we are the event of the day.
Dramatic change of landscape compared to the countries visited so far, with large expanses of sand surrounded by low, rocky hills excavated by monsoon rains into a very dramatic scenery. We have gone up the hills to Job’s tomb (yes, the biblical prophet, who is revered also by muslims) along a well-kept road in the middle of nowhere. We did not reach the real desert, because it begins only more than 200 km away in the north.
….and many, many dromedaries, which munch the scarce bushes along the roads; for once, the road-signs warning about “wildlife crossing” are not for nothing: in the evening, herds of dromedaries cross all roads, even the highway connecting Salalah with the port area, and all cars stop and wait patiently.
It’s been an interesting and altogether pleasant stop, despite the scarcity of things to do and see.