Qantab Beach, Oman

By eight AM the Qantab fishermen are already pulling their green boats ashore, faces wrapped in sea crusted checkered scarves.  I watched two men leap from the bow and run a rope up the beach to a large empty spool operated by a crank. A few villagers wondered over, as if summoned, and begin to turn the spool.  The boat slowly crept further onto the beach to be cleaned and stowed until tomorrow. 

From a distance I’d been watching two young boys drop a fishing line rolled around a pack of cigarettes into the ocean below their rocky outcrop for almost an hour. As the masked men pulled their boat out of the sea the two boys, Jaffer and Hamza, appeared down on the beach to clean one sizable catch alongside the proper fishermen. Under the guise of getting a better angle from which to draw the emerging boat I started a conversation about the fish they’d caught that morning.

The two fishermen pulled their catch from a cooler and slapped them on the deck for me to see whole before being gutted. The younger of the two smiled up at me and through the tightly wrapped scarf, protecting him from relentless sun and ocean wind, I saw deep green eyes.

Oman continues to surprise me.