“Anywhere else in the world, and there would be a hotel here.” Terry said to me one day, as we stood watching the waves breaking. The huge imposing cliffs of the Dhofar Mountains stood behind us, one of the last refuges of the Arabian Leopard. That was why we were here, for a scientific purpose, to help save a species. What I hadn’t counted on was being so enthralled by the sheer beauty of this landscape.
We had the beach to ourselves. Well over a mile long, flanked by great buttresses of limestone towering hundreds of feet into the deep blue sky. To get here we had to come in by boat, a rather interesting affair involving timing the waves and then running the boat up the beach a full throttle, not forgetting to pull the propeller out of the water at the last possible moment. The first time I didn’t hold on properly, and got thrown across the bottom of the boat. The second and third times I still hadn’t really got the hang of it, being a bit preoccupied with protecting the ‘scientific equipment’ from the arch nemesis of all things electronic – salty water.
From the cliffs we could look out across the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean beyond it. Dolphins, turtles and rays swam in the surf barely thirty feet from shore. On one occasion, we returned exhausted and filthy after a ten day foray into the valleys collecting data, fully clothed the whole team walked with open arms into the waves. The cool water was a welcome relief from the stifling humidity further inland, gently reviving us.
I can honestly say, that in those moments I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the entire world.
* * *
This article was originally written for Silverstick.