Last Weekend in Oman

This past weekend was my last weekend in Oman– where has the time gone?

Thursday evening, my host family and I went to my host aunt’s house for dinner. A lot of our extended family from Bahla came for the dinner and it was a full house! The women all sat together in one room and the men sat together in the sitting room (majilis) and we hung out there for a while. Then we all went outside and sat on matts on the ground (the men on one matt and the women on another) and had a huge spread of chicken, humus, pita bread, olives, salad, etc. It was delicious! As I was leaving, one of my host cousin’s gave me a present that she bought for me in Saudi Arabia: dates with almonds in them and a book about common questions that non-Muslims ask Muslims. I am so excited to read the book!! My host grandparents from Bahla came back to our house to spend the night, so we hung out in our living room for a while before going to sleep.

Friday morning I hung out with my host family and helped my host mother make donuts. At around noon, we drove to an area called Barka to a farm owned by one of my host aunts. A lot of the extended family was there and we sat outside on matts (the men sat in a different area outside) and hung out and ate lunch (rice and chicken). We spent a few hours here and I walked around the farm with one of my host cousins. I said goodbye to a lot of my extended family here and it was weird to think that I might not see them again. Maybe one day I will visit Oman again and I will see some of them.

Saturday was pretty uneventful; in the morning I learned how to make chipati (I’ll post the recipe), we hung out at home, I caught up on some reading. In the evening, two of my Omani friends came and picked me up and we went to one of the girl’s houses. It was my first time going to an Omani girls house (that wasn’t my cousin) to hang out. We listened to music, danced, ate dinner, played with her new dog, and talked. It was a lot of fun and I’m hoping I will see them again in the future. Inshallah!

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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.

Weekend at the Farm

December 13, 2013

Today we left our house early in the morning to go on a trip! We first drove to Wadi Bani Khalid, one of the largest wadis in Oman. To get to there, we drove to the eastern region of Oman, called Sharqiya. On the way, we drove through Soor, the major city in Sharqiya. We just drove along the outskirts of Soor, so I can’t really describe it, but we did drive by the largest oil plant in Oman. It is along the coast, and is a huge sprawling factory.

The wadi was beautiful. I think I like Wadi al-Shaab more, but it is a close tie. At the entrance were some young boys sitting and selling food and renting out wheelbarrows. The brightly-decorated wheelbarrows are for people who may be having a barbeque and need something to carry their food or matts. Since we went right before lunchtime on a Friday, there weren’t many people there, but that made it nicer since we could avoid a crowd.

My host father and I swam in the water (it was too deep for my host brothers to swim in). The water was cool, but not too cold and very clear. Palm trees dotted the beach and rocky mountains surrounded the water. It was so beautiful!

After swimming, we drove to an Indian buffet restaurant to have lunch. We then went to the desert! But not the desert that Muscat has; the desert desert, with huge hills of sand!

A small village lay between two of the sand dunes, with huge date tree farms. It was funny to see the green areas in the middle of the desert. We drove past the town into the sand to an area where camels were tied up. We walked around the camels (so cool!!) and through the sand. The sand was hot on my feet, and as I tried to walk up a hill of sand, it was really hard and I kept sliding down! My host brother crawled their way up, which seemed to be the better way. We could not drive up through the sand because you need a special car to do that, but hopefully I will get to do that at some point in my trip. Either way, I’m so glad I got to walk in the desert!

Our next stop was to a farm, where we spent the night. My host father’s friend owns the farm, and he let us stay there for the night (he doesn’t live there, but just goes there sometimes on the weekend. He wasn’t there though; it was just us and the men who work on the farm).

The farm lay on a pretty extensive plot of land and it had fields of plants (some to feed the cows), as well as a lot of chickens and cows. Other than the farming land, there are some small rooms for the workers to live in. We stayed in one room with an attached bathroom (which had a hole for a toilet, which also doubled as the drain for the shower). But the rooms did have TV (with cable) and Wi-Fi!

The farm also had a large pool, which got its water from wadis. My host brothers and I swam for a bit, and I tried to teach them how to swim. It was so nice to be able to swim laps for a while- even though the bottom of the pool was covered in moss!

In the evening, my host mother and I sat outside and read while the chickens were fed (and some slaughtered for dinner). They started to quiet down as the sun set.

Later on, we all sat outside on an elevated area covered in a mat with cushions (where my host brothers and host father were going to sleep). We projected a movie on the adjacent building wall and watched “Chicken Run”—ironic since we ate chicken (from the farm) for dinner. We cooked the chicken on a fire next to this area and burned incense to keep away mosquitos. The men who work on the farm went to their different rooms and watched TV together.

I got tired and went back to the room and went to bed. I shared the room with my host mother and our maid. We lay mattresses on the floor side by side and covered them with blankets that we brought from home. It was actually quite comfortable.

It was funny because my host mother was afraid to go to sleep because of the “little alligators” that are sometimes in the room. After talking to her more about these animals (I got scared at first), I realized she was talking about lizards. Luckily, I didn’t spot any in the room!

 

December 14, 2013

I woke up at around 7 because it was so bright outside and the chickens were up and about. I quickly got dressed and then went with my host brothers and host father to the souk.

The souk was only about ten minutes away (the surrounding area of the farm is other farms and overgrown land that starts to turn into newer larger houses on their plots of land as you get closer to the souk). The souk was an outdoor souk, with small shops lining the main road. We passed the city’s old fort (my host father told me that every city has a fort) as well as its traditional fish market (open in the morning, it is a large covered square where men sell fresh fish). We bought tea, bread, and cheese for breakfast, and drove back to the farm.

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After breakfast, we packed and as my host brothers went for a quick swim, I wandered around the farm.

We then drove back to Muscat. I’m now typing this blog (obviously) and studying Arabic and watching some movies. Oh yeah, and I’m eating an orange and yogurt lollipop!