East Coast of the Emirates


Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 12.08.51 PMWhile the Emirates have 500 miles of coastline, only about 50 miles face east, toward the Gulf of Oman.

After lunch and exploring Masafi for a bit, we arrived on the coast early afternoon. Our weekend plans were all 4 [four] of us camping the first night, then 2 [two] nights for mom and I at Radisson Blu Resort, while Anna & Tim kept up a full teaching schedule even as they played the role of gracious hosts.

Bottom left is Masafi, where we stopped to explore for lunch. Just north of the bay of Khor Fakkan is the beach where we camped. Top right is the Radisson Blu

Bottom left is Masafi, where we stopped to explore for lunch. Bottom right, just north of the bay of Khor Fakkan is the beach where we camped. Top right is Radisson Blu.

With 4 [four] different visions of the perfect campsite and no designated camping areas, we cruised up and down the coast. The ‘Family Areas’ just past Dibba were expansive but the trees were too far away from the water and the beach was littered with trash. ‘Family Areas’ designate space for locals and/or western travelers. These are areas free of imported laborers who swim in their underpants and, confirmed by every single encounter I have had, stare at women not covered head to toe, unapologetically and to an uncomfortable degree.

Either way, this area was too littered. The next was too rocky. The next was too fenc-y. Our search dragged on. A mounting state of hanger began to fill the tiny car.

By the time we drove down to Khor Fakkan, we were on tenuous ground and knew it. Following the instinct implanted by our father, Anna turned the vehicle onto a random side road, just past one of the large mosques and we found ourselves at a beautiful and empty beach. There were trees, a few swing sets, shelter from the wind, and benches. It looked great. Oh but there are street lights on the beach. So we drove around a while longer, eventually determined that had been the best option and drove back. Where we began to troll up and down the beach, arguing about precisely which tree we ought to camp by.

Khon Fakkan BeachLate afternoon, we had set up our tents before a few benches, a safe distance from the water (remember, tide.) We brazenly drove the car onto the packed down beach and parked it near our campsite. We used the rocks moved for the tent spots to build a small fire ring to help with Gulf winds. We all donned our decently modest swim suits and enjoyed the warm waters.

As evening settled, the beach became more populated. We were struck to note that driving on the beach seemed the done thing. Vehicles cruised back and forth on the sand. Some of the land cruisers seemed to delight in driving erratically, spitting up sand. Crowds began to multiply. At one point, a vehicle pulled up and a bethobed passenger got out and beckoned to us. Felling self conscious about being the only westerners AND the only adults in the water, we were grateful to have Tim to act as our emissary/man. It really is an important advantage, when in the middle east, to travel with a male.

Omi, okhti and I bobbed tensely in the water as he spoke with the gentleman on the beach. . . An SUV nearby began spinning out. . . A gang of six [6] jet skiers buzzed nearby. . . Two power paragliders zoomed just 12 feet above our heads. . . The water beside us erupted as an unidentified school of fish churned. We were in the eye of our own tiny hurricane; anxious about all that is happening around us, though nothing was actually happening to us.

Tim returned to us. As it turns out, we had unwittingly passed into Sharjah, a conservative emirate. They had asked that we cover at least our shoulders on this beach, heavily peopled by families coming from service at the mosque just up the road. He brought us each t-shirts and we continued to bob about, sticking close together.

Kind Tim offered that once we had finished with the water, clothed and re-secured at our campsite, to go in to town to pick up some pizza for dinner, what kind did we want.
A detailed conversation ensued.
Did we want anything else?
“Wood, for a fire later,”
“And bring some soda and snacks.”
“Come back quickly!”
“But drive safely.”
“Fetch me my brown pants.”

We paused. Anna looked at her loving husband, “see honey, it’s me times three!” We had a good chuckle at that.
We three women read and chatted on the beach as he braved the insane traffic of a Friday night.The beach continued to fill up with people. In contrast to my Colorado sense of, “hey, wait, look. There is someone over there, on the other side of the lake. Those jerks, how dare they infringe on my wilderness and privacy.”, this beach was packed. It took stepping outside of myself to realize, they were really leaving us a wide swath of space. No one parked between us and a view of the water, while everywhere else they were three cars deep with mere feet, even inches between them.

He returned with more goodies than we could have hoped for, even some prongs for marshmallow roasting.
It was an absolutely lovely evening, hanging out around the fire, making alternative s’mores (no graham crackers and chocolate but we had chocolate dipped cookies so, somehow we managed).
The beach was hoppin with families when we tucked in around 10.
image

The next morning, woke to an empty beach, except the groom walking his horse, trailing her spunky foal and the beach cleaners at the far end, picking up the piles of trash left all over the beach.
We began the morning with a swim in crystal calm waters.
Later, I stood surveying the sea and mountains and sky, munching on a slice of pizza and drinking Fanta for breakfast.
I was pleased to know, Little Bethany would be proud of the woman she has grown in to. This moment. Sharing such grand adventures with my family.
You are right, I am blessed. The best I can do is be grateful for it, every day; reveling, sharing, and growing in every step and season.

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