We reluctantly left Petra behind and headed north to Amman for our flight across the Arabian Peninsula. During the flight the desolation of the area could be seen from the air: a brown, sandy landscape devoid of vegetation and water stretched in every direction. This was the landscape that Nephi and his family passed through for many years. In order to cross the expansive desert they would have needed to plan every step of the journey: where to stop for water, how to get food and provisions, when to travel to avoid the heat. We know that the group’s number swelled to up to 40 people by the time they reached Bountiful, including many children. If we calculate 3 camels per person (a very common practice even today for Bedouins crossing the desert), a picture of Nephi and his family in the desert emerges: a small camel caravan (up to 40 people and 120 camels), retracing the frankincense trail.
They retraced the frankincense trail until they came to the place “which was called Nahom.” Here, they buried Ishmael and the direction of their travel changed to nearly eastward from that time forth. It is interesting to note that Nahom is only the third verified location from the Book of Mormon. You can read more about this here.
|Group in front of the Grand Mosque|
We arrived in Muscat, the capital of Oman, and were immediately hit with a wave of humidity. The trip had been warm up until this point, but warm took on a new meaning as we waited for our mountain of luggage to be loaded into the bus. We spent a full day exploring Muscat with our entertaining Nigerian guide, Paul. Our first stop was the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque: it contains the world’s second largest carpet (it weighs over 22 tons) and a giant Swarovski crystal chandelier that weighs over 8 tons. The serenity of the building and gardens contrasted sharply with our next stop: Muscat’s morning fish market. After getting up close and personal with the fish we all took on a new, unwelcome aroma as we boarded the bus and made our way to the Muscat Souk. For lunch we visited a local restaurant—sitting on carpet and eating curry with your hands is an experience everyone should have at least once.
In the afternoon we visited the grounds of one of the Sultan’s palaces and Old Muscat before driving several slow loops around a roundabout to see the Sohar, a ship made with no metal and sewn together with coconut fiber. It got us to start thinking again about Nephi’s ship and consider the many ways it could have been constructed.
It was a short introduction to Oman, but everyone was impressed by the cleanliness of Muscat. And, of course, when we found out that there is no income tax in Oman more than a few people wondered out loud if they shouldn’t consider a permanent international move . . .
|The Grand Mosque, Muscat|
|Inside the Grand Mosque|
|Fish market - caught fresh daily|
|Baby sharks at the fish market|
|Once you buy a fish you can pay extra to have it cleaned and cut|
|Fish cleaner at the fish market|
|The old souk in Muscat|
|Eating with our hands at a traditional Omani restaurant|
|Lunch off the tourist track|
|The Sohar - a ship made entirely out of wood (no metal at all)|
|The 8 ton chandelier in the Grand Mosque|