Farewell, Oman, my love.
Our time in Oman has come to an end, and the last couple of months have been a flurry of activity and stress. Everything went so fast, I barely had time to process that I was getting ready to leave a place that in many ways profoundly influenced the choices I have made and the person I am today.
Oman was my first real love in terms of international travel. I spent seven months trying to understand the rules of social interaction in an expat community and never looked back. I met my husband in Oman. I established my first adult household in Oman. I gave birth to my oldest child in Oman. I moved forward into the world from Oman.
Oman, I have loved you, with all my heart, and I promise – this may seem like good bye, but really, it is only ‘see you later.’
In the meantime, here are the things – in addition to people, food and sunshine – I’ll miss the most.
The desert has its holiness of silence, the crowd it’s holiness of conversation.
– Walter Elliott.
For someone who often finds everyday life just that little bit too noisy, the stillness and the silence of the desert is captivating. Captivating, too, is how the desert forces you to check your arrogance. Traveling through the desert – that vast and unforgiving, yet mesmerizing, landscape – you know that good planning can only help you so far. If something unaccounted for goes wrong, you give it your very best, before offering a prayer to whatever strength you believe in. In the desert, we all depend on something and someone.
CAMPING AND EXPLORING
And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy as your eyes sparkly.
So-called ‘free camping’ is the best, and probably the only, way to truly explore this magnificent country in all her splendor. Packing a tent and everything you need to survive away from everyday conveniences allows for the freedom to roam, and he realization that we probably surround ourselves with far more than we really need. While not initially a natural born camper, I have come to love it – as have our three children.
If you’re interested in learning about our family love of camping and our reasons for prioritizing camping over air travel during our first years in Oman, head over here.
Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.
Islam is a part of life everywhere in Oman, and even the tiniest village has at least one mosque. I like to see mosques as a portrait of Oman’s history. Since the start of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’ reign and the oil boom of the 1970s, this country has seen almost unimaginable changes. I can’t help but wonder what it must feel like for those who have seen and lived through radical changes and developments, those who still remember the harsher days of the past?
THE CHALLENGE OF THE ARABIC SCRIPT
إن مع اليوم غدا يا مسعدة
“There’s always tomorrow.”
Unfortunately, this sums up my Arabic skills pretty well. Arabic is like the friend I always wanted to have but never quite managed to find the time for. We’re aquatinted, sure, and pretty well aquatinted too, but friends? Nope.
Challenges aside, I do love the shapes of the Arabic script and I will miss my attempts at deciphering it through daily life.
“There is a kind of beauty in imperfection.”
Oman has her shopping malls, restored forts and beautification projects, but what I love most are her quirks, her small imperfections, her sense of reality. The fabulous doors in abandoned villages that lead to nowhere but surely holds histories. The signs I can’t make sense of. The old Muttrah houses that are starting to crumble. The pickup trucks laden with goods and camels, kids and wives, throwing traffic regulations to the wind.
I have moved to a country where things seem to roll in almost effortless perfection and lawfulness. But life is never effortless, nor perfect. Perhaps, in honor of life itself, we need to celebrate the imperfections.
Thank you, Oman, for everything you’ve given me. You’ll always live in my heart and mind. Until we meet again … farewell.