Well, so here I am along with my guide and driver, Salaa. This tall and handsome guy has steered me through Oman’s best know attractions since the last 3 days. He knows the history and geography of the region like the back of his palm. Until now. Apparently, we lost our way to the Ras al Jinz Scientific and Visitors Centre and arrived two hours late. He says it’s the first time this has happened but I can’t blame him. How do you find your way in several acres of dusty, barren and undeveloped land with no soul in sight, proper roads or traffic lights and above all, no signposts to guide you through? But the genius with me managed. From a strategic angle he pointed to a speck in the distance. That was our destination he said. What seemed almost 1000 miles away was covered in barely 20 minutes.
It’s a lone building standing as the centre point of at least 25 acres within its radius. No sign of human life. No market, shop, telephone booth in sight. Not even a Bedouin tent! Just dry, barren land bordered generously by the baked mountains touching the horizon. Anyway, the few cars in the parking space give me hope that there are people inside. An Indian receptionist completes the check-in formalities and I head to my room on the first floor. I notice that pillars are dressed with huge posters of turtles, information on them, the Centre’s efforts to protect and breed them. The rooms are aptly numbered as Carapace. I am in Carapace 10. There are 12 rooms in all—well furnished and comfortable with all basic amenities in place. It’s the same with the dining area on the ground floor. The options on the menu are generally limited but the food quality is high-grade.
The Centre is not as plush as I thought it would be. But then this is a scientific centre; people work here day and night to save an endangered species. It’s more of a work place than a visitor’s gallery or a hotel. Every person in this building is here just for the turtles. The staff is working towards providing a safe and protected future for the turtles while visitors like me are here to see the turtles in their natural habitat. The monumental work taken up by this Centre deserves accolades. The Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve or the Ras al Hadd Turtle Centre as it is called is now a much cherished tourism project of the Oman government.
The Centre conducts two trips to the beach every night—one at 9 pm and the other at 4 am. I register for both the tours. I am no wildlife enthusiast or conservationist. I just want to make the best of this opportunity. I want to see the efforts that go in to the monitoring process of these sea turtles. I want to see the green turtles lay eggs and guide the new hatchlings into the water. There’s another reason for looking forward to the night trip on the beach. The secret is that I’ve never been on the beach at night and I want to find out what it feels like to be on a beach with fine sand caressing your feet and a million stars smiling from above.
Will tell you all about it in my next post…
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The images are personal besides Courtesy http://www.fotoseeker.com and the Ras Al Jinz Scientific and Visitors Centre