On the way from Muscat to Sur, close to the Omani coastline and somewhere between Wadi Al Arbeieen and Wadi Ash Shab, there is a big crater-looking hole filled with turquoise water. To this day, the locals believe it was created when a meteorite hit the earth and, as such, they named it ‘Hawaiyat Najm’: ‘The Falling Star.’ Admittedly, the spot emanates a beauty so enchanting – the blue-green waters sparkling and vibrating vividly in sharp contrast to the plain, sand-colored landscape – that it is difficult to entirely reject the possibility of an extra-terrestrial intervention. Unfortunately, geologists were fast to put the myths and speculations to rest, proving that this depression is just a typical sinkhole phenomenon: the gradual dissolution of the underground limestone that has led to the collapse of the earth’s upper crust layer. But, unlike other sinkholes which usually bring to mind pictures of destruction with houses and stores getting devoured by the depths of the earth, this one is dazzling, joyful, and peaceful – aligned with the whole ambiance of Oman – and, as such, has turned into a beloved tourist attraction, widely known as the “Bimmah Sinkhole.”
Today, we can visit the site by entering the fenced Hawaiyat Najm park (developed around the sinkhole to protect it) and we approach it through a big, concrete staircase – a construction of inharmonious aesthetics yet practical and convenient – that leads down to the small lake. At the shallow parts, we will invariably meet several families with young children, fathers giving swimming lessons, mothers hovering around with snacks, foreigners, and locals taking thousands of pictures. On the other side, some 50 meters away, teenagers and young adults engage in ongoing demonstrations of their diving skills, climbing the steep walls of the sinkhole with the help of a rope and then plunging with astonishing somersaults, twists, and acrobatics into the 20-meter-deep pool. We can easily spend a couple of hours enjoying the cool mix of fresh and salt water, the jubilant hassle, and the inevitable interaction with the congenial Omanis. And, as time passes by and we get filled with the unique bliss that is found in simplicity, we sense that the rules of geology fade away and the stories of a bigger, interconnected universe prevail, for they resonate with this part of ourselves that looks for substantial meanings and cryptic messages in all mysterious corners of our existence.
Photos: © Konstantina Sakellariou