It's Official: Muscat 2013

After some pretty serious "will we, won't we" over the last month it's finally official.  We are headed to Muscat, Oman in the summer of 2013!  We are beyond excited.  
Oman is on the tip of the Arabian penninsula, across the Straight of Hormuz from Iran.  It borders Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.  Despite some rowdy neighbors, I've heard Muscat is a lovely, safe, interesting, clean, low key, wondrous place to live.  And hotter than hell.  I left out hotter than hell.  
Last time we were assigned to a place we'd never been I listed all of the reasons why it was awesome on our blog.  After having actually lived in Casa I re-read that list and laughed heartily.  "It's clean and safe" being my favorite.  It's not terrible in those areas, just not the utopia I had imagined.  So, I'll avoid projections and what I have gleaned from google image searches and give you the facts.

- Muscat is the capital of "The Sultanate of Oman"   Kings and Sultans are our thing, I guess.  

-Since the ascension of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman in 1970, Muscat has experienced rapid infrastructural development that has led to the growth of a vibrant economy and a multi-ethnic society.  (That one reeks of wikipedia, doesn't it?  Guilty)

- They speak Arabic though VERY different from the Arabic they speak in Morocco

- There is a "Little India" in Muscat.  What in the Chicken Tikka Massala? 

- It will be the farthest East and the farthest away from home we've ever been

- And Snorkling and Diving

- And This

-And a brand new Opera House

- A double 30th birthday celebration in Thailand sound awesome to anyone else? 

- But...90 + temperatures 8 months out of the year with 100 + temperatures in the summer

- The culture is more conservative than Morocco. Hello again long sleeves.  

What I'm looking forward to most, outside of doing outdoorsy things and photographing the amazing landscape during the three months Oman isn't a furnace, is learning more about this part of the Arab world.  We are literally going from one tip of it to the other and I imagine the differences are stark. 

Much more to come as things develop, but for now I think I'm spent.  One last thing: we've never been to the gulf before - any one have tips, books to read, or "heads ups" for us? 


Eid Mubarak


These are the last days of Ramadan and the streets are empty when I walk the dog.  Every morning I see the aftermath of what must have been a killer all night party.  Garbage litters the abandoned streets and sloshes of Harria soup stain the sidewalk.  Bits of bread and chicken remain under cafe awnings where they were haphazardly dropped at Iftar the night before.  The street cleaners are leisurely in their morning duties, if not down right negligent.

But the dog doesn't mind the mess.  In fact, I have a suspicion that early morning Ramadan walks have been his favorite to date.  This morning he chomped at some chicken bones, nosed through a mound of moroccan bread, and attempted a good old fashion "roll in the yuck"...in something that looked like yuck.


Now that Ramadan is over there is a kind of palpable, collective relief in the streets.  People are back to their afternoon coffee and they can face the August heat with a robustness they haven't felt in weeks.  There is a sense of accomplishment that they have managed this feat yet another year but also of sadness that the family gatherings and feasting and supplication are over.

I'm glad I'll get at least two more years of Ramadan.... :)

(The suspense is killing me too - but after our weekend scare you'll understand why I'm keeping a lid on things!  To be continued..)



Summer of Aug

So, we left R&R after being surrounded by our large and awesome families prepared to face some “people we love” withdrawal.  BUT, some of the people we love came home with us!  Well, one of them.  Max’s brother Augie spent about 2 months with us this summer.  It has been beyond fun and we were very sad to send him back last week.  

But we definitely made the most of it.  We’ve been all over Mohammed’s Kingdom (as we’ve taken to calling it) and tried to give Augie a diversity of experiences including, but not limited to:  Riding a camel, …eating camel (not the same one), wearing a snake around his neck, haggling with cab drivers, buying a fez IN FEZ, swimming in the Atlantic, hiding from belly dancers, rocking out at an African music festival, hiking around roman ruins, gorging ourselves on tapas in Spain and sweating it out at the Turkish baths.

Augie was so awesomely well liked and made so many new friends, that last week I was at a work event and someone approached me (me, who has been here for 16 months) and said "Hey, you are Augie's sister in law aren't you!?" Pretty great.  

I think of myself as pretty good company, but it has been really fun for Max to have his little brother around this summer.  Family visits have been increasingly few and far between as we have traveled and taken jobs away from home.  It’s pretty sweet when home comes to you.

How many picture are we in together that aren't close
ups of our face?  Very few.  Roman ruins at Volubolis
 - yes, that's our pupperoni in the background.  

We had some amazing meals over the course
of the summer - I was obsessed with making Aug
try every moroccan dish.  

Awe, family picture!
Kickin' it, riad style

This is how Mr. Buckley felt by the end of the summer.
That's a lot of moving for a tiny dog



Ramadan is Here

We are actually in our 13th day of Ramadan here in the Maghbreg and so far so good.  Ramadan is a holy moth where Muslim's fast from sun up to sun down.  We spent our first Ramadan in Jerusalem and I've come to feel very fondly about it.  I know that a lot of expats are annoyed that restaurants and stores are closed , but you know what?  We are in someone else's country and this is what they do.  Deal with it.  

On a less soap boxy note, I dare you to listen to this song and not have it stuck in your head for weeks.  These guys came to post last year and, if you'll recall, I introduced my first (and last, let's be honest) hip hop concert...in a suit.  I was just beside myself about what to wear but even if I had wanted to dress the part, I have the closet of someone who shops at whole foods and arranges doggy playdates.  So I wore a suit - it was work afterall.