Easter has always been an eventful day in the Snyder family, and unfortunately my day didn't have anything to do with the holiday, and I missed out on spending time with people in church, eating a good home-cooked meal (in particular, ham), and hunting for Easter eggs. Despite the homesickness I felt being halfway around the world, my spring break trip to Salalah has kicked off on a good note.
When we arrived to the southern coastal town Saturday morning, that day was reserved for our own exploration around town. Sunday was arranged to be more structured, but rarely in Oman do things go according to plan, especially when you have an Omani driver. Instead of leaving at 9, we departed the hotel around 10 and set for the place, which I have called “Blowhole Beach,” because of the blowhole there that spits water about thirty feet high. We hiked around the nearby mountain for an hour, and then headed to Job’s tomb, hidden back in the mountains. Job is a man in the Bible, and he is also mentioned a few times in the Quran. I expected his tomb to be a bit more grandiose than what I witnessed: a roughly three-by-ten foot area representing the place where he was buried inside a small one-story building next to a green-domed mosque. We then drove down the mountain to grab some lunch. I ate some really well-cooked camel meat on a stick (meshkak, plural: meshakik), about four sticks. After stopping by the frankincense museum and exploring the archaeological site there, we headed back to the hotel. As we were driving back, we passed by a row of fruit stands, and we stopped to buy some coconuts. I remember George asking, “Wait, are we going to have to open them ourselves?” and I recalled the scene in Cast Away where Tom Hanks is trying to open a coconut by bashing it on a rock. This was my first time drinking coconut water and eating its meat and I can honestly say I am not a fan. The girls on the trip liked it though, so we now consider coconut a girl fruit.
We rested at the hotel for two hours before we went to meet Janet Williamson, who in my opinion is the most interesting woman in the world. She’s a Canadian hippie Muslim convert who has been married three times and is the second wife of an Omani man who has three wives. You may have to read that a couple times. She lives by herself in a three-story half-house shared with the third wife and her children. While she was hosting us at her house, her first co-wife member called Janet on the phone to tell her she just got fresh cow milk from her mountain tribe. I can’t even put myself in her position – I do not understand how a woman from the West with the freedom to share life with one husband in a more cultured society would choose to live in the Dhofar region in 1979 when there were only a few roads and most people travelled by donkey, where they didn’t have any modern commodities and there was little communication with the outside world.
The night concluded with a peaceful dinner at a Thai restaurant down by the beach underneath some date trees. We had accomplished a lot during the course of the day, and I gave thanks to my God for His grace in giving me such an extraordinary day and allowing me to experience this foreign culture and not only work on my proficiency in Arabic, but also work on my personal development.
|School of fish|
|About 20 miles from Yemen, you get this nice view!|
|An ordinary sight in Salalah|
|Lost city of Ubar|