New Pet!

I came home to find another pet! Now we have a bird in our house! My host families bought it from Africa and it is like a parrot in that one can teach it to speak. It is sitting on a platform for it in our house (since it cannot fly). I’m pretty excited! Do you think it will suffer the same fate as our goat?

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Great Day!

Yesterday was a great day for 2 reasons:

1. At lunch they had lettuce and tomatoes, thai chicken, and indian rice, so obviously we mixed them all together to make a burrito-in-a-bowl. Yep, Chipotle even in Oman! Chipotle/Moes/Willies is one of the things I miss most about America, so I was beyond excited to have a kind-of-burrito-in-a-bowl.

2. After lunch Kirby, Miriam, and I went for a walk in the desert rocky area around our school. It was nice to get some Vitamin D. I had almost forgotten what the sun was!

Bahla

This past weekend was spent in Bahla with my host father’s parents. We left for Bahla right after my school ended on Thursday and drove to Bahla. A lot of the family came over for a barbecue dinner that night to celebrate my host uncle and his wife’s return from their honeymoon in Malaysia (their wedding was the wedding I attended a week or two ago).

Today (Saturday), at about noon, I was told to go into a school bus with my cousin and my host brothers… yeah, things aren’t vague or anything here… We have a school bus in our yard because my host grandfather drives kids to school every morning and afternoon. It’s an old bus (I’ll put up a picture soon) so I was excited to ride in it, though I had no idea where we were going; I did know, however, that there was a big container of rice and salad that we were taking with us.

Turns out we were meeting a bunch of family members at a farm owned by my host grandfather. The farm is a huge plot of land that has a small house with one room and a bathroom. Now, however, nothing grows on the farm because there is no water on the farm. We all sat outside on matts underneath a covering and had a barbecue party! We also spotted a camel so that was pretty exciting.

The rest of the day was low-key spent around the house.

I’m Taller than Everyone Else

Considering everyone else was in elementary school, I suppose it make sense that I (and the other NSLI-Y) girls were the tallest.

Yesterday morning we volunteered at another elementary school. The school was next to the school in which we had volunteered last time, so it was located in one of the older areas in Oman called Seeb. The school, a government school (ie- public school), was near the beach and was similar to the previous school in that there was a courtyard that was surrounded by all the classrooms. The school had a really nice courtyard with little patches of garden and murals were on some of the walls. It had a very friendly atmosphere.

We got to the school after the morning announcement ceremony and went directly to the teacher’s lounge (similar to the previous school’s lounge: there were cubicle-type desks, a matt on the ground for people to sit on, and an area with coffee and tea). The teachers and administration were all women and were wearing brightly colored Omani clothing. All of the women had their hair covered.

They were all so sweet and welcoming and all stood up and lined up to great us as we walked in. They came and sat with us and talked to us in Arabic while we waited for our classes to begin.

Each of us only attended one class and I sat in an Arabic class with Anna. It was actually really exciting because I understood most of what was going on in the class! Granted, they were elementary school kids, but hey, progress is progress! In the class, they read sentences in Arabic out-loud and then described a picture of Soor, which is a city in Oman. The students were again very enthusiastic, though in this school they did not scream “teacher teacher” while jumping out of their seats when they wanted to answer a question. They did frantically wave their arms around though when a question was asked, and the longer the teacher waited to call on a student, the more frantic they got. It was quite amusing actually.

The classroom itself had yellow plaster walls, tiled stone floor, and a photo of Sultan Qaboos hung in the front. There were some decorations around in the room. It was simple but friendly. The teacher was really enthusiastic and you could tell that she loved her students.

After our classes, we hung around for a while more before eating the obligatory and all-too-delicious dates.

I’m excited because we are going to start volunteering at schools every Thursday. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity, because it is such a rare chance to be able to go into schools and meet and talk to teachers and students in various schools around the city. I can’t wait for next week’s school! Who would’ve thought that I’d be excited to go back to elementary school?

Ask for a Hamster? You’ll Get a Goat

Maybe one of my strangest/funniest experiences yet.

Two days ago when Kirby came over to my house, my host brother, Ali, ran to make us look out of the window. We peered out and I was astonished to see a goat in our yard! Thinking a goat wandered into our yard, I ran outside but found that it was tied to a stake. I turned to my other brother who explained to me, “my father bought it today”. What??

My host mother came down after a while and I asked her why in the world there was a goat in our yard.

“Well Ali asked for a hamster for his birthday, so today Ahmed (my host father) went to buy a goat today”.

I asked if it was going to be a pet or what?

“Maybe in two weeks we will eat it. But Ali doesn’t want us to eat it”.

Cool, so I had my second pet ever. A goat.

Unfortunately, this did not last long. Yesterday, I got a text from my host mother with two emoticons: a goat and a knife. Yep, RIP. It was a delicious dinner yesterday though.

I asked why the goat was killed so soon.

“It was making a lot of noise.”

Well, I’m just a little bit confused.

Goat kabobs 

I’m an Orphan

Sorry, this is a really old post that I forgot to put online. It is from two weekends ago. But better late than never, right?

Ok, I’m not really an orphan but I have become a nomad for the past few days. And will be for the next few days. My host parents left Muscat to go to Saudi Arabia for a prayer called Umrah, which is a prayer in the Kaaba at any time other than the Hajj. The trip consists of performing a tawaf (circling the Kaaba seven times counterclockwise), performing a sa’i (quickly walking seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa), and performing a halq/taqsir (cutting one’s hair). Many Muslims also drink water from the Well of Zamzam, which is supposed to have very special water. People can take some of the water back with them (the planes do not charge to bring back water, so you can bring back as much as you want). My host grandparents brought back a lot to Bahla. Additionally, the prayer in one of the mosques counts for 1000 prayers, so this trip can be very important for Muslims.

My host brothers went to stay in a relative’s house in Bahla, but since I had school, I had to stay in Muscat.

I wish I could have gone to Saudi Arabia, but the next best thing was having a 6-day sleepover! Now that I think about it, the more appropriate title for this post would have been “I am a Nomad” because I basically was. I went from spending three days at Miriam’s house to two at Mac’s house to one night at Kirby’s house, to bam! Back at my house!

It was fun to spend time with my friends and see their daily schedules and how their families are. I spent the weekend at Miriam’s, so that’s where most of the excitement happened and we spent one day at the beach (for the mid-program reflection day) and went to the mall the next day to see That Awkward Moment. Except since the movie was in New York and had pumpkin pie and all sorts of other things I love about life, it only made me miss the US.

Other than that, I just hung out with my friends and their host families and did my homework and such. Yep, I live a really crazy exciting life…

My host family seemed to have a great time in Saudi Arabia and they even brought me back some jewelry!