Maybe Arabia, Part 3

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[See Part 1 here and Part 2 here]

Jesse Hines and Brett Barley come from North Carolina. Pablo Gutierrez from Spain, Raine Jackson from Oz, and Damien Castera from France. Together, they thought they’d seen it all. Until they came to this place.

By Andrew Lewis
Photos by Sergio Villalba

It takes a special level of patience to be a traveling surfer in virgin territory. While archaic villages and centuries-old burial grounds pass by on our drive north along this Arabian coast, our eyes struggle to register their significance because we are focused on the sea beyond. While we slow for herds of lanky camels moping along the center lane of the road, our eyes are focused on the sea beyond. While the road winds through a soaring canyon piled in endless earth-tone colors of 700 million-year-old sandstone, our eyes are focused on the sea beyond. Our job is difficult; the treasure we’re looking for could vanish in hours.

In the context of travel, this is all very bullshit. Admittedly, we’re missing a lot on this ridiculous 2,000-kilometer race against a fading swell window. But a discovery will make for a feeling of glory that is as overwhelming to us as one of these burial grounds to an archeologist. That is, if we score — if potential and luck come together in one perfectly peeling, barreling, never-surfed-before wave. Should “if not” happen, we’ll go home with some nice pictures of camels and sand dunes and locals to show our girlfriends — and some substantial unrequited debt to deal with. Should “if” happen, we’ll still have the pretty pictures and the debt — but both will take a backseat to the day it all came together. A distant second to the lucid memories of the heat, the wind, the salt, and every green tube. If, that is.

Pablo Gutierrez reaps the spoils of "if."

Fast forward: We’ve returned to the Grand Hyatt, where it all began. We’re sitting at the same table where Rambo spread the map between coffee cups and cleaned plates and listened to our plan of attack with intense and hungry eyes. Over expensive and hard-to-come-by Jacks on the rocks, gin and tonics and chilly Heinekens, we’re laughing about the rough nights in the desert, waking up at 3 a.m. under the stars, drenched in sweat and humidity, cursing that little voice inside all of us that urges us forward on surf trips like this. We’re laughing about the look on our guide Rambo’s face as he caressed his Land Rover and got to share the bloody, fleeting taste of surf trip success for the first time. And we’d do it all over again if we could.

Many thanks to Rob “Rambo” Gardner and the crew at Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre (