Tag Archives: Beaches

Fishing from Pontius Pilate’s Palace

The gloom of a foggy, pre-winter day here on the east coast of the US has sent me back to my storehouse of Middle Eastern photos, perhaps seeking warmth, perhaps respite from academics and from brutal post-storm New Jersey traffic and congestion.

The ‘throne room’ or reception chamber of the governor’s palace at Caesarea.

I found a series of photos from a visit to the ancient Roman ruins of Caesarea in Israel.  They’re warm.  They’re balmy and quiet (I was almost alone, near closing time for the ruins, making a quick dash to see the site on my way back from a marathon tour day where I visited the entirety of the Golan Heights all the way up to Majd al-Shams, the ruins of Nimrod, the Lebanese-Israeli border, and the northern coast from Haifa down to Tel Aviv.)

Most important, these photos resonate with a sad truth about life and history: slow but steady decay, accompanied by the cheerier but still fatalistic idea that life continues, unabated, even over the most important puzzle pieces of a contentious past.

Two fishermen on a jetty that was probably, at one time, a garden courtyard overlooked by Pontius Pilate’s seaside reception chamber.

That is the mark of NQR I found at Caesarea:  the mundane littlenesses upon which the world really functions, many little examples of which seemed to be creeping — all at once — inward from the sea to reclaim such a fabulous, famous site.

For example, standing in the very spot where the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate held audience with the Apostle Paul and granted him the request to be judged, as a Roman citizen, in front of Caesar himself, I saw the ruins slipping back into the sea and a few local Arab men clambering over the shore, fishing.  Life continues.  I love that.  Despite the rocks, the ruins, the joinery, the faience tilework, the vista, these men operated on a simpler and more innocent level, plying the ruins in search of dinner.

Plaque (multi-language!) telling how the Apostle Paul sought an audience with the Emperor and was shipped to Rome from this location.

More of the world’s petty necessities creeping in toward Caesarea: a power plant just down the beach from the ruins.

A last beautiful photo of a fisherman on the sculpted but eroding shores of the ancient city.

 

 

 


Distance Makes Bootcamp Grow Fond

Not that I wasn’t fond of Oman when my family and I enjoyed the awesome experience of living there for a year, but now, looking back through photos, some of the more mundane or even unpleasant aspects seem better.  Take our present experience of New Jersey traffic for instance. The rudeness of drivers here almost makes me wish for the super-sonic speeds and random construction zone lane-changing of Oman, always accompanied by smiles and good manners.  Or the heat.  Miserable to live through an Omani summer, but O, the winter — 80F with balmy sunshine every day!

In addition to the steps and the beach where bootcamp was conducted, I linger over the fine remembered taste of Costa Coffee (seen in background) not to mention the pleasant swaying of so many palm trees.

Even this photo, seeming rather barren, rather boring, inspires a moment of NQR reflection and remembrance.  It was at the base of these steps, along a stretch of Muscat beach sometimes left dry by the tide, sometimes washed over knee-deep by blessedly cool water, that my wife and I and a goodly number of our friends and acquaintances — mostly expats, though my buddy Aflah became a regular attendee — tortured ourselves every morning by attending a bootcamp physical training session led by two crazy South African gentlemen.

Ahh, I look at the steps and wish I could return to those mornings:  waking up with a light mist of sandstorm or mosquito-fogging (an expelled concoction part deisel, part napalm) floating in the air, temperatures hovering around 90, 95F at 5am, picking our way down these very steps, sometimes awash with kelp and little crablike critters, slipping, tiptoeing to keep our shoes dry, waving the beam of a flashlight in front of us to avoid stepping on anything truly unpleasant.  Then gathering in the dark with the other masochistic morning bootcampers, a quick jog down beach, a stretch, and a return to the real heart and misery of the morning.  Usually it went something like this:  1 minute of a randomly chosen but inevitably brutal exercise, the easy ones being push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, the tough ones impossible combinations of twisting, pushing, prying, jumping and generally getting wet sand into every crevice of the body; then a quick shuttle-run sprint down to a line drawn in the sand; another minute of a different but equally painful exercise; a second sprint to a farther line in the sand; a third exercise; a third and final sprint to the farthest of the lines.  Rest.  Repeat.  Sweat.  Repeat.  Charge into the water (maybe bringing gallon jugs to fill and then lift in a final burst of calesthetics or isotonics).  Return home dripping, sandy, but well-worn and well-woken for the day’s chores and pleasures.

Thinking back on it now, such mornings seem almost perfect, although a little bird in the back of my head still chirps a reminder about bleary-eyed cursing that occurred during, and especially en route to, such bootcamp fondnesses.


Middle East Water Issue

I think I’ll tell this Not Quite Right story through pictures, rather than words.  Just a few clarifying details upfront:

1.  This is not your standard Middle East water problem.

2.  No children were harmed in the process of taking these photographs.

3.  Mughsayl Beach is located about 40km southwest of Salalah, Oman, about as near to Yemen as a person can safely venture now days.

 

My son, Wesley, checking out one of many 'attractions' at the Mughsayl Beach

 

I join Wesley. We can see down into the hole to a rather frightening depth and can feel a breath of air on our hands.

 

Ya, Allah! -- a better scare than any ride at Great America!

 

 

 


Expatriate Picnic Secrets

So, two options if you want to go to a REALLY nice beach in Oman:

1)  Stay at the Shangri La Barr al-Jissah Resort, with a sea-cave arch in its front yard and a private cove among three different ‘tiers’ of resort complexes (all visible in the picture on the main page of the resort’s website, link provided here at no additional cost).

. . . or . . .

2)  Pay one of the local fishermen who wait on shore, after finishing their morning trawl, to take expats out to the equally private and much less expensive cove immediately opposite the sea arch.

Same waves.

Same water.

Same sand.

Same sun.

Cocktails are, unfortunately, best kept within the confines of the resort, in deference to local predilections.

Going rate to hire a boat from Qantab Village to take a group out to the hidden cove?  Negotiable, but usually somewhere around 10 Omani Rial (about 26 USD).  Going rate to spend the day at Barr al-Jissah?  I wouldn’t know.  And that’s the NQR of this post . . . all of us expats creating a cottage industry of taxi-boats through nothing more elaborate than our own penny-pinching!

A boatload of expats shove off for a short trip around the peninsula to the 'hidden cove'