Friday, February 11, 2011

Dream a little dream

Fri Feb 11
I had my first “Wow, I’m in Oman moment” yesterday. It occurred on the side of the road, 2 hours out of Muscat in a direction I am not entirely sure, as we ended up seeing the beach again. I was on the side of the road while the cast of the Arab version of the Hangover-my host father and his three buddies, stopped at a wayside mosque to pray. I was invited to either sit in the car, or hang out outside (I am assured I will get to go into a mosque one of these weeks, but it will be in Muscat where things aren’t as conservative.) It was a gorgeous day, and while I was listening to them pray I checked my surroundings. Huge rock walls jutted up from the highway giving the impression of the Grand Canyon. A wind started to blow (which kept up until it roared me out of sleep that night as a tent came crashing down next to me, and I went and slept in the car. This is the Shamal-north wind, signaling it’s about to change seasons, which means hot hot hot) and I just had one of those “I am 2 time zones shy of the other side of the world from everyone I know” moments. I am travelling with 4 guys I don’t know who I think are hilarious but I also do not understand any of the jokes. I was told “hey we are going camping, bring a swimsuit.” I have camped in this region before, and it is easily one of my favorite pastimes here, and also why I schlepped a tripod over 4 continents in 3 weeks. The stars amazing here, 2nded only to the Apostles and what I vaguely remember of Maui.
A few kilometers out of the wadi (apparently we are staying in Wadi, which I interpreted to be like Jordan’s Wadi Rum-vast desert, why the hell do I need a swimsuit?) they pull off, throw the landcruiser, which until today has sat idle infront of the house and now I find out what it is used for, into 4 wheel and literally leave the road towards a dead tree. Then a line is thrown around it/the hitch and dead tree is yanked from dead ground to become firewood. It is stowed on back after it is broken up more by jumping and beating. We then jump back on the highway only to get off again by a river. We follow the river up until it becomes pools and then river bed. We cross the stream a few times and eventually end up on a rocky sandbar, where we make camp. Around us is a gorgeous wadi, having been cut from probably a few million years of rock, occasionally helped out but what looked like some violent mother nature temper-tantrums in the form of volcanoes, water and earthquakes. It’s also dark, which means food. The meals were incredible Omani Mishkeck, a seasoned kebab. Then they talked and let me go to work. I grabbed at least one of the top 3 pictures I have ever taken and am thankfully in it.

(Bless timers! I take great pride when my friends make their profile picture one I have taken, and lament the fact that I don’t get to travel with brilliant photographers other than when I go with Dad and John once a year, therefore am limited in the amount of shots I am in.) The moon was at half, meaning just enough light to saturate the wadi but not blow out the stars I had my mattress outside and so as the camera worked I would throw on the Ipod to my favorite songs and just watch the universe literally swirl by. (I try to start all the posts with either a lyric or the name of the song, which some avid readers have picked up on. Dream a little dream of me starts out: “stars shining bright above you…” and also happened to come on my ipod as I was gazing.) It was a whose-who of delights last night with Orion, Pegasus, the big dipper/Ursa Major, Canis Major, Pices, Cassiopeia, Leo, and the Pleiades all in great form. It was wonderful, and I finally felt the independence I was worried I was leaving behind in an apartment in Alexandria. I also tried time lapse and star trail stuff but will need to wait to get home to put it all together. I got a few hours of shut eye (automatic cameras: run ‘em till the dual batteries die.) When I woke up, breakfast was being made. In daylight it occurred to me that this swimming pool is rather big, and deep. The rest of the day was spent singing, playing drums, harassing the French who pulled up right next to us (dude you have the whole wadi and it’s 100k long!) and swimming. Imagine Huck Fin swimmin’ hole in Oman. This led to a lounging day eating shark (store-bought, not from the swimming hole, but the crystal clear freshwater made for easy spotting of fish) and getting “Ian’s first day doing something with his shirt off outside sunburn.” Feb 11th would be a new record by a long shot for that one. Maybe it was that I was just being. I wasn’t talking much, aside just to ask certain words in Arabic. Their English wasn’t great and I realized how far I have to go in Arabic to be conversationally competent. This meant I spent most of my time observing: them, their interactions, the beautiful place we were in, and thinking about what it all means to be over here.
I am happy, and content. The stars shined brightly last night, seeming to say “you can do this, enjoy your time.” (8:23pm FRIDAY I just received a text from Amina, my fellow Bulldog in Egypt and now in Oman: “Mubarak resigned. Military is now in charge of Egypt.” Pharo’s rule is over! I am completely elated. It was all worth it. “Let freedom ring!”) Wow that was ironic to get that text as the next line I was about to write; The stars shine the same for us regardless of what country we are in, and hopefully they will shine bright on those we left behind in Egypt, as they continue to do for me in Oman.

1 comment:

EgyptianArabic said...

I appreciate your words on this blog, and look forward to hearing more about Oman. I will be going there soon and love hearing about it from other Arabic enthusiasts! I Hope your Arabic studies goes well, how do you find the dialects you encounter there? What dialect have you had the most exposure to?


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