Airports out here like to make a grand entrance. It is not like the states where one just walks down the
hallway following a sign to checked baggage. Here in the Middle East they prefer suspense, they want you to think, what is on the other side of that huge frosted door? And in Muscat, it is a very exciting surprise. As we walked up to the door it flew to the side revealing about 45 small Indian men gawking at the disembarking passengers. What the heck? Are we in India? Do they know that many people flying into Oman tonight? Can't be? Collectively, as a group we just decided that must be what they like to do for fun on a Thursday night, not how I would like to spend my free time, but hey to each their own. Towards the back our very hospitable host was easy to sigh as he stuck out like a sore thumb, looming over the small men, as he is rather tall and a very fit build, quite the opposite from the rest of the crowd. We hopped in his Jeep and another weekend journey began.
The first main event of the trip was SCUBA for the boys and snorkeling for the girls. Now, I am going to let you in on a little secret, I am not a fan of large bodies of water. Really any bodies of water with living things in them. When I was little I had somewhat of a traumatic experience, I was swimming at my aunt and uncles cabin, jumping in the water, splashing around, and low and behold I look down at my toe and there was a big fat leech wrapped around my second toe of my right foot. I can still picture it now. And it freaked me out! Have not been quite the same since. BUT I am embarking on all these new adventures so I decided I had to put my big girl pants on and suck it up.
|Snoop on the left and Dre on the right, you see it don't you?|
We arrived at the marina at a wee 7:30 and found our way to our boat. After some safety tips and introductions we were off. Now, you will never believe who our captain and first mate were, none other than Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. I kid you not. They were feeling a bit surely that morning too as we literally raced across 5 foot swells bouncing up and down I was just not feeling at all "laid back," but rather sea sick. The boys all suited up, clearly Scuba training had developed their sea legs because all of us that there left on the ship after they dove in felt pretty much terrible. We mustered our way through our first little water adventure hoping that bobbing up and down in the water would be better than on the boat, it was but only slightly. Finally we settled on laying out on the front of the boat, the Englishman in the group dubbed us a bunch of "girl's blouses," you ever heard that one?
|Nothing cuter than a snorkeling mask|
After the boys emerged from the water and we had some sandwiches and water melon in calmer waters, we jetted off to another spot. This second snorkeling adventure was much much better. Our stomaches and nerves were settled and we explored all the under water offerings. At one point one of the girls screamed because something had brushed her leg, we quickly realized it was merely a buoy which we dubbed "the rope monster." We saw several schools of fish and even a long moray eel. After that I felt accomplished and ready to go back to my sun bathing.
The best part of the trip was the boat ride back. The water was even choppier and now there were white capped waves that we were slicing through on the boat. Dre and Snoop were having the time of their lives zipping along the coast, the boat trying to hurdle the waves. They were blasting one of their favorite artists, Seal. As "Crazy, " and "Kiss from a Rose," was the sound track of our trip back to the marina we all held on and nervously laughed as the boat took on each wave.
|As our British host said, "Team America Does Muscat."|
The rest of our weekend was focused on our very lovely host and his birthday. We went out to a mexican restaurant where we had the most delicious strawberry margaritas and our Omani's knew how to keep those flowing, so it was easily a good time had by all. The next morning we went to the most beautiful hotel in Muscat called the Chedi. Our host had arranged for breakfast for the 6 of us in the private dinning room. The spread of food was never ending, there was fruit platters, homemade preserves, breads, pastries, meats and cheeses, and this all came out before we even ordered our meals. After we finished off our lovely breakfast we felt that we were definitely swim suit ready and headed out to the pools. The grounds were perfectly manicured and the palm trees lined the walk ways. It was one of the most gorgeous resorts I had ever seen. We finished off the fine weekend lounging around the infinity pool over looking the Gulf of Oman, sipping Corona's and relaxing in good company.
|Me and E, at The Chedi|
As I look back of the past five weeks I cannot begin to count the ways in which I feel so lucky and blessed to have this opportunity. In back to back weekends I got to explore two different cities in two different countries. My horizons are expanding even more quickly than I thought they would. I am learning about different cultures, tasting different foods, sipping a variety of wine and spirits, and meeting so many new and lovely people. At different points in my life (college in Colorado, post college in Arizona, now in the UAE), I have stepped back, looked around at my surroundings and really been proud of myself that I pushed my limits. Not only have I explored beyond my once small Iowa boundaries but I have also created a life in all these different places and that I feel is such a personal accomplishment.